Friday, June 14, 2024

Victoria-based indie rockers swing for the fences with final show and album release


Saltwater Cowboy aren’t the only cowboy-themed band in Victoria, but they are a unique one. 

The five-piece indie rock outfit have been creating music together since the summer of 2021, but now that two-members have to move away, they are laying the band to rest and going out with a bang   by releasing a brand new nine song album at their last show.

The show will be on April 20th at Capital Ballroom in Victoria and it will be the largest venue the band has ever played. 

Saltwater Cowboy is headlining the show at the Ballroom with Hilsboro, Joy Boy and their cowboy-themed compatriots, ex-cowboy, opening.

“We wanted to play our final show with our friends basically,” said Chris Compton, Saltwater Cowboy’s bassist. “Initially we were going to plan a show at the VEC [Victoria Events Centre] and we were thinking of trying to do it as a charity show.”

Members of Joy Boy and ex-cowboy ended up booking the Capital Ballroom which has a total capacity of 600, although for this Thursday night show, the capacity will be limited to 300.

Because of the size of the venue, and the fact that none of these bands have played a room this big, a charity show became impossible for the bands to confidently undertake and they opted to just throw a big party with their friends in other Victoria-based punk and rock bands.

Saltwater Cowboy became a mainstay of Victoria’s DIY music scene in the two years they have been around and they hope that the city’s music scene supporters will come out, give them a fun sendoff and listen to the new music they’re releasing. 

Saltwater Cowboy’s origins

Guitarist Braxton Glass and drummer Blaine Standing met while working at Phillips Brewing and became fast friends. They shared a passion for making music and it wasn’t long before they tried to put together a band.

Guitarist James Harrison and Compton have played in bands together while growing up in the Duncan area. Harrison and Glass had known each other because they had played in a band with a short lived lifespan in years past.

The band had come together but they didn’t have a vocalist right away.

“Initially we had a different vocalist, but that didn’t really pan out,” said Harrison. “Then we met our current vocalist through another mutual friends of ours.”

“He was actually just sitting at the [Phillips Brewing] bar,” added Standing. “I was like, ‘hey, we need a vocalist for our band if you know anyone,’ and he was like, ‘well I’ll do it.’”

They had added their final member with their current singer, Kevin Griffith and they began to put together some songs to get some shows booked.

Everyone in the band serves a purpose and their division of spoils makes the band uniquely fun and productive.

Harrison is laser focussed on the band’s sound; Glass is a bit of a band dad, who keeps track of the money and organizes most of their shows; Griffith, Standing and Compton are all about keeping the vibe of their rehearsals and shows fun and joyful. 

They rent a space out of a band rehearsal space in the Tillicum/Gorge area called Art Farm, where bands can rent rooms for a practice space as well as recording. This is where Standing was able to record their live-off-the-floor demos on their first release, The Farm Demos.

“It’s such a cool spot in Victoria,” Compton told Victoria Buzz. “It’s such a great thing for the local scene because there’s nowhere that’s easily accessible practice spots unless you know somebody that has a garage.”

“The Art Farm is doing a lot of cool things for local musicians. In one room you’ll have a hip-hop group, then across the hall you’ll have a death metal band and us one door down doing our indie rock thing.”

“It’s a really cool melting-pot location.”

Recording their new album, Greatest Hits

The five-song EP Standing recorded and produced out of the Art Farm was only ever meant to be a demo tape. Once the band had a bit of cash in their pockets from playing local gigs as well as playing at Clayoquot Wilderness Lodge resort, they booked studio time to put out a full-length album. 

“If you play the demos compared to the album, it’s like, ‘oh my god,’” said Standing.

“There were five songs on the demo,” added Harrison. “We took four of those and recorded them on the album with five new songs.”

The band agreed that the idea behind the album was to give their listeners the same ‘live-off-the-floor’ sound they’d get at a Saltwater Cowboy show and they chose to call the album Greatest Hits because it is the amalgamation of all their best songs and crowd-favourites they would play. 

The album was recorded, mixed and mastered at the Noise Floor on Gabriola Island. They specialize in not recording bands to a click track which gives the end result sound that live-off-the-floor touch.

Artists such as Orville Peck, Bonnuit and the Dog Indiana have recorded their albums at the Noise Floor. 

The band is excited to give their fans a nice surprise because the album features one brand new song they’ve never played before and will be debuting at their final show. 

Their last show/album release

Two members of Saltwater Cowboy, Standing and Griffith, have job opportunities they can’t turn down. Griffith got a job as a sous chef at a restaurant up island and Standing is returning to his hometown of Calgary for an engineering job. 

The members of the band all agreed that there is no sense in continuing without two key-members of Saltwater Cowboy that are integral in shaping the sound they’ve found.

“We all kind of knew when we were doing the recordings that they were leaving,” said Compton. “We were going to do the recordings because that was going to be the last thing that we do together.”

“Now we have this beautiful memento, we just got to hang out in a cabin and make recordings with our friends.”

They knew they wanted to go out in style and members of Joy Boy and ex-cowboy shared that sentiment. They booked the 600 capacity Capital Ballroom for Saltwater Cowboy’s sendoff. 

They are swinging for the fences in terms of selling out the Ballroom, but at the end of the day they just want to have a big fun party with their friends, old fans and new fans. 

“The scene here is super strong,” Compton remarked. “Even though this is our last show and it sucks, there’s still amazing musicians out here and we get to play a show with all of our friends and hang out.”

Tickets are available online for Saltwater Cowboy’s last show and album release on Thursday, April 20th along with Hilsboro, Joy Boy and ex-cowboy.

Victorians who like the sounds of Parquet Courts, the Strokes and Modest Mouse will find themselves right at home at this sendoff show.

Saltwater Cowboy Album Release with Hilsboro, Joy Boy and Ex-Cowboy

  • Where: Capital Ballroom, 858 Yates Street
  • When: April 20th at 7 p.m.
  • Tickets: $20 each, available online
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