Squamish might be known for many things—namely mountain biking, climbing and hiking—but its heavy-metal scene certainly doesn't make the list.
That's why it might be surprising to learn that over the last six years, three out of four members of Vancouver metal veteran act Bison have moved to the Outdoor Capital of Canada.
"It's nice not to be in Vancouver," says James Farwell, vocalist and guitarist for the band. "You come up there and there's no heavy metal—that's why I like it. I like trees and mountains and rivers. I like that my kids have that, too. I have two boys, so they're outside playing in the dirt. It's more close-knit and all my neighbours are so fantastic."
The impact of the move up the Sea to Sky even made it onto the band's latest album, You Are Not The Ocean You Are The Patient, released in 2017. "I wrote the last record while living in Squamish and it was a completely different experience for me," Farwell says. "I have space, I can work on music—then I have my family right here ... I walk out of my house and it's somewhere really beautiful. It was comfortable, but not in a way that the music would suffer. The songs are about nature, but they're about nature destroying us—it's about nature exacting its revenge on us."
While they might live outside of Vancouver now, their rehearsal space is still down in the city—as are their jobs. (For his part, Farwell works with a non-profit in the Downtown Eastside.)
"The unfortunate thing is we can't find any rehearsal space in Squamish," he adds. "We have band practices in Vancouver... I work in Vancouver. We're still tied to the fucking city, but we're trying to get out."
Despite the fact that they made the move some years ago now, the band is making its Squamish debut at the Knotty Burl on Saturday, Feb. 9 for Johnny Thrash's (who is best known in Whistler for his staring role in Ski Bums, a documentary from the early '00s) 49th birthday party.
The show will also include local bands like Power Trip, Buster Jangles and Vancouver's Surrounded by Idiots.
"I want to draw attention to Squamish and to the venue," Farwell says. "If everything goes nicely, I've got lots of friends in the music world who might come up and play Squamish."
While he might be new to Squamish's music scene, Farwell has "been kicked out of Whistler plenty of times," he says with a laugh.
For Bison, the local gig—and sleeping in their own beds—will be a nice change from touring the country, as they've done over the last decade-and-a-half.
"It's a completely different thing now (touring Canada). For one, we're not as wasted anymore, so there's that," he says. "You sort of remember things. I'm now maybe not quite as able to sleep on somebody's floor. I can't really do that anymore. It's a little more—I wouldn't say luxurious, but we probably get a hotel."
Catch Bison at the Knotty Burl in Squamish for Johnny Thrash's Birthday Bash on Saturday, Feb. 9. Tickets are $15 at https://bit.ly/2S4bUNn.