Who: White Cowbell Oklahoma
When: Sunday, July 18
The story goes something like this:
Way back when (they can’t remember), a group of nine, 10 or even a dozen (they can’t remember) grubby rednecks knocked off a pawnshop in Ohio making off with some music gear. Fleeing the long arm of the law they split the town, the State and the country, ending up in Toronto.
They couldn’t sell the stuff – nobody wanted it – so they decided to start playin’ it. Seemed a good way to make a livin’.
What transpired was something they called White Cowbell Oklahoma – a hellbent, gritty, southern-fried, sex-tastic road show that smells something like catfish, tobaccy juice and love for one’s fellow cousin, and worships the ground Skynard once walked on.
You never forget a White Cowbell show, no matter how much moonshine yer chuggin’, so local folk might recall the band’s last Whistler show at the GLC in February 2003.
Since then, they’ve got a new album under their belt buckles, but the same old attitude in their pants.
Pique caught up with vocalist/gee-tarist Clem, the band’s official spokes-varmint before the band got loaded up (or just loaded) to head west on a tour that includes a show at Garfinkel’s this Sunday night.
And considering they’ve been banned from Banff, fans should take heed that with this band, any show could be their last in your town...
Pique: You know, my granddaddy No. 2’s name was also ‘Clem.’
Clem : Now that is just insane. I think it’s some kind of cosmic alignment of the sun and the moon and all the planets. I think it’s just right that we’s talkin’ right now in this world.
Pique : Let’s talk about the album. How did that come together?
Clem : We was down in Peru or Bolivia, I can’t remember, one of the two. We was up on the mountain and we was thinking: "let’s record ourselves while we’s hidin’ out from the authorities ’cause studios is cheap down here."
So we decided to record on wax cylinders made out of spit and melted down Formula One tires.
We flew in different spirit guides for the process and we think it worked out just fine. We were going to hire an expensive producer but we got some spirit guides and drug dealers from Upper Volta and they did just fine.
The consequence and the result was Censerro Blanco which is a masterpiece of guitar-o-licious, electrified rock ’n’ roll with harmonies and dirty words and all kinds of things. We think it is the finest rock ’n’ roll testament to come out since the New Testament. It’s the "new New Testament" we like to call it.
The cover art was done by Bill Narum who designed all the ZZ Top album covers of the ’70s, and we thought it would be apt for him to do the cover of Censerro Blanco , masterpiece of the 21 st Century.
Pique: I don’t speak much Spanish so could you tell me what that means?
Clem: Censerro Blanco has a lot of different meanings. Some people think it’s talking about narcotics. Some people think it’s talking about censorship. Some people think it means nothing at all. But what it means in Spanish, literally, is White Cowbell.
Pique: What else did you get up to down there? Did you lick any toads?
Clem: We went through a whole toad-licking period but we’ve all gone through detox since. I’m on the toad wagon. I’m all into salamanders now. And if you’ve never licked a hippopotamus, you don’t know what you’re missing. I will try anything once....
Pique : It seems like you’re showing a more thoughtful side with this album. For example: on the song Put the South in your Mouth the line "let me slop my biscuit in your gravy" is clearly a comment on the much criticized interventionist policies of the current Bush administration.
Clem: That’s right. Let me slop my biscuit in your gravy – very, very poetic. Poetical-political. I’m tellin’ you, that song has many layers of meaning. It is probably our most Coleridge-esque song. A strong Kubla Khan influence.
It is also about southern cuisine, which has a multi-faceted, fascinating history, that southern cuisine. It’s also about oral hygiene, which is very important – something many of us in this band have overlooked.
Pique : Are you ever going to stop playing this devil music and become a preacher man or something of the like?
Clem: Sometimes we get on the road and we gots nowhere to stay so we go to the local preachin’ house and we sing the old salvation for you. If you wanna hear it, we’ll sing it. We’ve been there. We can sing the gospel like nobody else’s business.
But we can also sing the devil’s music like nobody else’s business too.
You don’t have to go to Calgary to get Stampede fever. Show up at the White Cowbell Oklahoma show at Garf’s on Sunday night dressed as a cowpoke and they’ll let you in for $4. Regular cover for the show is $6. For more information go to www.mountainpromotions.net.