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Psychobilly shakes its brass with Raygun Cowboys

Edmonton band, complete with horn section, performs at the Dubh Linn Gate


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If you like your psychobilly with a horn section, then you'll love Raygun Cowboys.

The band takes the usual shake-your-butt beat and ramps it up with gorgeous brass.

"It definitely makes us stand out a little bit from other rockabilly bands. We've got a different set-up than most and that's the way we like it," vocalist and guitarist Jon Christopherson says.

Raygun Cowboys started off as a trio in Edmonton in 2000, largely playing rockabilly covers, and added three more players to make up a horn section in 2007.

"It's a full sound, we're definitely not a quiet band," Christopherson says.

So where can they practice that huge sound? "We practice in our bass player's basement," he laughs. "There isn't a problem that way. If you do it early enough, it doesn't bother the neighbours."

In fact, Christopherson takes the call for the interview just as he is planning to depart for a jam session to prepare for the band's winter tour.

Raygun Cowboys perform at the Dubh Linn Gate Irish Pub on Wednesday, Nov. 23, at 9 p.m.

"We like to put a lot of energy out and we like when we get it back from the audience. When people are dancing and having a good time, the band feeds off it. If people in Whistler want to come out and party, we're definitely the band to do it to."

This will be the Cowboys' first-ever Whistler show.

"We've never been there before and we're really excited to play, we've heard great things about it," Christopherson says.

"We love tours in B.C. because it's so gorgeous. Can't wait to get there and check it out."

And prepare to hear some new rocking music.

"Over the years, we started writing more original songs and tried to take them all more seriously," he says.

"Rockabilly and psychobilly is what we are coming out of, but we also came out of the punk scene. Punk rock is important to each of us and it's a big part of who we are."

Earlier this year, Christopherson was also on the road with Edmonton punk legends SNFU as their tour manager.

"There's quite a difference between being a tour manager and being the front guy in a band. As tour manager for another band; you have to make sure everything runs smoothly, things arrive on time, hotels are booked, all the money is taken care of. It's not really glamorous," Christopherson says.

"But to do that for SNFU, for me it was a big deal.

"With the Cowboys, we do it ourselves... I learned how SNFU runs things — they're really organized and they've been doing it for over 30 years. It was a good learning experience and I'm going to use a lot of that."

The difference? Thinking about the band as a business.

"It was business, business, business — you can't go out and expect things to run smoothly if you don't prepare," Christopherson says.

"It's impressive to see how they've made a success of everything."

Raygun Cowboys is currently recording its fifth album, a mix of gypsy jazz, hardcore punk and psychobilly.

"Now we're in kind of preproduction, jamming the songs out and arranging them. We'll try them out on the road and jam for a week straight and then right into the studio," Christopherson says.

"When you jam and practice a new song it goes a certain way, but when you play them live things can come up and you can change them. It gives you a better gauge on how an audience will react."

Over the course of the band's last few albums, Christopherson says they have found their sound.

"It's good dance music, at the heart of it all," Christopherson says.

"Live music is where we're at. It's the most fun; a lot of people come to shows and have a great time. It will be the same when we get to Whistler."



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