The Harpoonist & Axe Murderer **LIVE INDIE FOLK** [TUESDAY – 22.11.2016]
Armed with a sack of harmonicas, a mess of foot percussion and a road – worn Telecaster, Shawn “The Harpoonist” Hall and Matthew “The Axe Murderer” Rogers kick out raw and primal blues, while electrifying the genre a with their own greasy, gritty and sweaty sounds, limiting their sound to whatever they can play between their mouths, hands and feet. You won’t believe all of these greasy, gritty and sweaty sounds come from two musicians. This Australian tour marks their first visit back to Australia since BIGSOUND 2013!
With special guest William Crighton xx
THE HARPOONIST & AXE MURDERER //
“With a name like The Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer, you might be forgiven for thinking that the Vancouver-based duo is some sort of concept group based on a hypothetical love story between Captain Ahab and Lizzie Borden.” (Chris Oke, Yukon News)
In reality, Shawn ‘The Harpoonist’ Hall and Matthew ‘The Axe Murderer’ Rogers evoke much more than just grisly nautical imagery. Armed with an arsenal of harmonicas, a mess of foot percussion, and a road-worn Telecaster, the duo kick out raw and primal blues in the tradition of a ‘decades-deep blues style’ (Scott Brown, What’s up Yukon), while infusing the genre with a jolt of renewed energy.
The two met and bonded over music while recording a radio jingle. Their memorable name is inspired by a lyric from Kris Kristofferson’s ‘Bobby McGee’ that references the blues harp, (‘I took my harpoon out of my dirty red bandana’) and ‘axe’, a common term for the guitar.
Their influences range from the iconic songwriting of Willie Dixon to the boundary pushing of Jack White and Danger Mouse but their sound is distinctly their own, smothered in greasy, gritty soul and imbued with funk. Shawn Hall provides the rousing, rugged vocals and blues harmonica, while Matthew Rogers rips on the guitar and pounds the skins with his feet. Their music is unapologetic. It slaps you in the face and makes you sweat like it’s a sticky, summer night. It cuts you to the core. It’s the blues played the way it was meant to be played.
The Harpoonist & The Axe Murderer released their self-titled album in 2008, which was followed in 2011 by the widely acclaimed ‘Checkered Past’. Their third and latest album, ‘A Real Fine Mess’ is scheduled for release on June 17th.
The new album explores complicated dichotomies, like how one’s life can appear successful on one hand, yet be clouded by doubt and struggles on the other and how all that is celebrated hangs in the balance with the potential to fall apart at any moment. Recently the band found themselves increasingly inspired not only by the electric ‘groove blues’ of the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s but also by the music of their peers. A wee hours stairwell serenade led to unprecedented vocal collaborations and an awkwardly mismatched festival workshop made the two realize that they needed to ‘up their game’ as songwriters and lyricists. The recording came with its own challenges as the two live in different cities separated by 34 nautical miles of sea. After 18 ferry trips, 3 missed flights, countless breakdowns, and a barrage of text and email arguments later ‘A Real Fine Mess’ was born, like the offspring of a can-can dancer and an oil tycoon.
Shawn and Matthew have received considerable recognition in the last few years. They have been nominated for multiple Maple Blues Awards and won ‘Blues Act of the Year’ at the SiriusXM Indies in 2013. The duo has also pounded their fair share of festival stages including SXSW 2013/14, Winnipeg Folk Fest, Ottawa Blues Fest, Calgary Folk Fest, and Montreal Jazz Fest. Along the way they’ve shared the stage with Taj Mahal, Booker T Jones, David Wilcox, Mother Mother, The Sheep Dogs, and Serena Ryder. They’ve also had songs featured on television shows such as the ‘The Good Wife’, ‘Blue Bloods’, and the aptly-named TV movie ‘Lizzie Borden Took An Axe’.
The duo has no plans to slow down after their hectic summer of festival-hopping. They’re on a continuing journey, constantly finding inspiration from musicians they meet or collaborate with. These encounters challenge them to deepen their songwriting and to keep performing with their trademark fervor and honesty. And the result? As one fan put it is, ‘blues that gets you in the crotch’.
Article: the music
The Harpoonist & The Axe Murderer’s Shawn Hall promises a primal, skanky, greasy Australian tour, writes Samuel J Fell.
A band with a name like The Harpoonist & The Axe Murderer is always going to command attention. Whether or not they can keep it, however, is a different story. This Vancouver duo has no trouble with that though, their deconstruction of the blues form, the subsequent warped reconstruction, the power and passion they exhibit — well, that’s what’s going to hold that attention and keep it firmly in place.
Guitarist and foot percussionist Matthew Rogers and vocalist/harmonica player Shawn Hall met in the mid-2000s while recording an ad jingle, bonded over common musical tastes and the rest is history. Four records later and this duo are in demand the world over, next month heading to Australia for their first extended tour.
“We’re coming down with a well-seasoned, well-oiled, really primal, skanky, greasy, love machine of a blues vessel.”
“Yeah, we’re finally comin’ down man,” enthuses Hall over a scratchy Skype connection. “We were there three years ago [showcasing at Brisbane's BIGSOUND conference] and, nothing against Brisbane, but it’s like coming to Canada and just seeing Ottawa. We want to be able to see much more of the landscape, not just [be] stuck in the centres.
“Everyone has told us about the Mullum Music Festival [too],” he goes on, referencing one of the festival slots they’re playing while here, along with Queenscliff and a few sideshows. “They’ve said it’s a pretty eclectic festival… it sounds great. [So] we’re coming down with a well-seasoned, well-oiled, really primal, skanky, greasy, love machine of a blues vessel.
“We’re also coming with a third singer — from a vocal powerhouse from Winnipeg called Chic Gamine — her name is Andrina Turenne, she’s fantastic. She’s kinda got more of a – not country music but country/soul, she adds that to the band. She’s been on our last two records, and has been out on the road with us for only the past nine months.”
Speaking of records, the duo’s last was 2014′s A Real Fine Mess, which they’re currently in the process of following up on. “Yeah, we do have a new one, coming out in February next year,” Hall confirms. “We’re trying to do a different thing, and we’re involving a much larger community of musicians that we’d been influenced by and have invited into the project.”
He goes on to explain, “The record and the live set are always two different bodies… so when we do a record, we’ll have full drums, we won’t do a foot-drum record for example. We usually have a bass player [on the albums], we’ve hired three singers… it’s a wonderful relationship, they’ve made me become a better singer because we sing together on the records. I try to keep up with them – whatever I’m trying to capture, needs to be captured with them in person, rather than me laying down my stuff and then bringing them over the top.
“It was a conscious decision to bring in extra people whose heart and soul we dug,” Hall adds, an ethos which has thus far worked and looks set to continue.
TICKETS $25 available on the Door.
DOORS OPEN 8PM
PLAY BAR SYDNEY
BASEMENT 72 CAMPBELL STREET SURRY HILLS