A&E » Music

Prepare to grunge

Vancouver's We Hunt Buffalo Perform at Merlin's after a very good 2015



There was no New Year's Eve gig for Vancouver grunge rockers We Hunt Buffalo.

Vocalist-guitarist Ryan Forsythe instead went to Seattle to see a musical.

"I went to check out the Book of Mormons," he says.

Listening to their meaty, gritty music, this is an interesting revelation, but then he explains further.

"I've been a fan of South Park for years and years, and the creators of South Park wrote the play. It's won a bunch of Tony Awards and I missed it when it was in Vancouver," he says.

Forsythe's buddies in We Hunt Buffalo are Brendan Simpson on bass and vocals, and Brandon Carter on drums.

And they really are buddies, from way back, and have been performing together for over 10 years.

"We all grew up in or around Fort Langley, that's how we met. On the world stage it makes more sense to say Vancouver," he says.

"We were jamming around playing different sounds when we first started playing, but We Hunt Buffalo has been going since 2010."

Their second full-length album Living Ghosts was released in Sept. 2015, and has made it to some end-of-year, must-listen lists, including being named album of the week by Francois Marchand of the Vancouver Sun.

He said of the album: "They lay the grunge/fuzz guitar foundation hard and heavy, with pummeling drums and bass, but the delivery is smooth and consistent. Living Ghosts is dark and dreary, but also quite dreamy."

Forsythe adds: "I think he's a well-respected journalist, so it is nice to have kind words come from him. We just found out that we made the blogger best-of list for the Void's blog. Music bloggers and writers were really great and we've noticed it on a few lists.

"We had a great 2015. It started in the studio; I think we were booked on Jan. 4, or something like that. We started making Living Ghosts, and spring was spent pitching it to record labels. We landed two record deals — one with New Damage in Canada and one with Fuzzorama Records for the rest of the world."

They got their musical ducks in a row by touring over the summer with the Cancer Bats, including a Whistler show.

"It's just been a kind of a whirlwind year," Forsythe says.

Asked if he thinks that their sound is a timeless Canadian rock sound, he agrees.

"There is definitely a Canadian influence in there, too, from Neil Young to the Hip and BTO. It's strange. Right now, the rock scene in Canada is very much catering to indie rock and the folk stuff, so we don't necessarily fit into that," he says.

This has meant little support from commercial radio.

"But at the same time, there are still people who love to rock out," says Forsythe.

"We definitely feel right at home with it, but the radio side of things hasn't come back around yet. In the '90s, grunge was at the forefront and heavier stuff was being played on the radio. But we're seeing a cycle changed towards what kind of music is being put out."

While he says it can be frustrating, he adds that the band understands that they are playing a niche style.

"It's cool to see it well received in general. With the Internet and with the way bands are promoting themselves now, you don't necessarily need the radio. The stations are doing everything they can to stay current in this social media age," Forsythe says.

We Hunt Buffalo are planning to tour Europe in the spring.

"Then there will be some Canadian touring, and we'll try to dip down into the States," he says.

"We'll try to keep promoting the record. It's still very new and we want as many people as possible to hear it. We always have a great time when we play in Whistler and I looking forward to having them hear us. We keep joking that if we keep playing Whistler, we'll be big in Australia."

We Hunt Buffalo performs at Merlin's on Saturday, Jan. 9 at 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $5 advance and $10 at the door.