If one thing is for certain, it is that Toronto rock band Public Animal is not shy about wearing their influences on their sleeves. The group combines their overt but welcome love for Deep Purple and other riff-rock bands, delivering meaty, powerful guitar riffs by the bucket load.
At the heart of Public Animal is Ian Blurton, a musician with more than three decades of experience behind him, having formed seminal Canadian indie-rock band Change of Heart in the early ’80s.
When that group dissolved in the latter part of the ’90s, Blurton moved onto the equally adored Blurtonia before gaining more notoriety with power trio C’mon.
Over the last 20 years of pumping out his own original music, Blurton has also amassed an impressive music production resume. In addition to having produced 12 albums last year alone, Blurton has also had a hand in overseeing albums from a diverse range of acclaimed acts such as The Weakerthans and The Skydiggers.
Yet for his extensive experience in different facets of the music business, Blurton says Public Animal is a fresh endeavour to his ears and hopes that fans feel the same:
“With my previous band C’mon, we had a very specific frame of reference with regards to what we were doing in a musical sense,” he explains. “This band just doesn’t have those same constraints, which ends up being more freeing in a way. The pool of influences that we are drawing from for Public Animal is much wider than anything I have done in the past.
“Also helping that, however, is the fact that everyone in the band listens to something different from everyone else. We want to be our own band and not necessarily sound like anyone else.”
Blurton acknowledges the group’s approach isn’t likely to win them fans in the mainstream. As far as he is concerned, however, the mainstream is not a place where Public Animal aspires to be successful.
“There is a lot of pressure on bands to try and get on board with whatever happens to be popular at the moment. Fortunately, we are left to our own devices in that sense.”
Contrary to those who might be inclined to believe that rock and roll is dying a slow death, Blurton refutes the notion, saying that he sees a resurgence of the genre happening among younger generations of music fans.
“It’s hard for a lot of people to stand behind anything that is manufactured or too cookie-cutter. We’re lucky in a way because there seems to be a lot of kids really delving into trying to discover rock bands. There is a significant population looking for ‘real’ groups that take the aesthetic of decades past when it comes to recording music or playing live,” Blurton says.
Performing alongside Public Animal and Mistreater this Saturday night at Plan b Lounge is Moncton doom-metal group Shevil. Formed in 2011 by members whose collective history included time with Moncton bands Iron Giant, Manlord and indie-rock group The Peter Parkers, what helps set Shevil apart from their contemporaries is their instrumentation.
The group – comprised of three bass players: Kyle McDonald, Shaun Crawford and PJ Dunphy along with drummer Errol Girvan – omits the guitar as an instrument altogether. According to McDonald, this was not something the group had originally set out to do.
“We each found ourselves without bands at roughly the same time,” McDonald says. “We had been speaking with a guitarist about getting involved with the group, but that didn’t end up working out. We originally launched the group as a trio, with two bass players and recorded our first EP with this configuration.”
Not long after Shevil recorded their debut EP, McDonald says that Dunphy expressed interest in joining the group. Rather than shift someone to the guitar, he says they made the decision to have three bass players, something that few, if any, bands had undertaken in the past.
In 2012, Shevil began recording their full-length debut, Kilts of War, a concept record based in Scotland in the year 600. Released last year, McDonald says the album focuses on the lesser-known story of the Scottish population’s transition from their Pagan / Celtic Polynesian lineage to Christianity.
McDonald says that due to other commitment, the group’s upcoming run of shows with Public Animal will be the last performances they have planned for the immediate future.
“I think it will be easier to determine the future of Shevil once this run of shows has wrapped up and I have completed my touring commitments with Zaum,” he says. “I think at most, the band will remain a bit of a side project simply due to the fact that we aren’t necessarily able to tour. I feel confident saying that everyone in the band would love to have the opportunity to pick things up again down the road, however.”
What: Public Animal, Shevil and Mistreater
When: Saturday, March 21, 9 p.m.
Where: Plan b Lounge, 212 St. George Street, Moncton