Published on June 11th, 2015 | by Chris Laramee0
Shooting Guns at The Juno Awards
Chris Laramee from doom rock purveyors Shooting Guns gives us the mean and dirty low down on being nominated for, and attending, the Juno Awards.
My group SHOOTING GUNS was nominated for the 2015 JUNOS in the Metal/ Hard Rock category. Our drummer/ mastermind Jim threw our name in the ring (which you have to pay for, BTW) for the hell of it last year. Cue much laughter and surprise when it was announced that we got a nod in the above category. There’s about a thousand or more deserving bands in Canada that could’ve easily gotten picked, why us? From my view, the Polaris exposure (itself weird) we’ve had was probably the biggest factor. Beyond that, who fucking knows?
So we made the decision to go to Hamilton and check it out. Also, we booked a Friday show in Toronto with Atlanta’s LAZER WULF upstairs at Lee’s Palace. That was an added bonus meaning we could hang out with friends in TO. It should be said also that without a grant from Creative Saskatchewan, we would have not been able to make this trip work financially, so big props there.
The biggest reasons for me to make the journey was the aforementioned TO stop, but also our Hamilton show at one of the best clubs in Canada, This Ain’t Hollywood. We were playing with TRUE Hammer-town legends TEENAGE HEAD and one of the country’s best and most under-rated bands BIBLICAL, crazed riff masters and great people to boot. A no-brainer, for sure. And lest this turn into a travelogue, which is not my intention, let me just say that I had a blast at the shows hanging with the other bands and friends who came out, Seb, Mark, Jesse, Chad, Nicole, Jay, Nick, Andrew, Mike and a great hang at Ronnies in Kensington. Lots of smiles and laughs!
So, the Junos themselves. What did I take away from it? Well, first the profound and palpable disconnect between a band like us and the industry was writ large from the outset. Walking into the Saturday night gala event, everyone else was dressed to the nines in their suits and gowns. We were in our shirts and jeans, squirming uncomfortably in front of the cameras on the red carpet photo thingy, salivating at the thought of all those unopened Steam Whistle beers awaiting us on the other side of the flashes (poor us, I know, actually, we didn’t have to do the photo thing, I just did it for a laugh myself). Soon we were lapping up as much free beer as we could, hanging in the shadows with our buds in The Deep Dark Woods (also nominated), me remarking on how ridiculous the whole scenario was, more laughs and clinking of beer bottles all around. I had this paranoia that we were gonna be tossed out at any moment. We weren’t, and shortly we made our way upstairs to the main ballroom for the dinner and awards presentations. So we get up there and discover we’re seated right at the front, across from RUSH(!) and their family and management. Clearly, someone fucked up. OK, well, open the wine and let’s see what happens. Salads were devoured, a nice meat dish was ravenously inhaled while various folk delivered testimonials on the state of their industry and such. Some lame nu-country band that strangely sounded like “Cherry Pie”-era WARRANT whined away onstage, more wine please. The MC for the event was pretty funny actually (though her name escapes my shit memory), she made some acute Jian jokes and kept things rolling along. It must be said that the best thing that happened that night was Daniel Lanois performing a set of free electronic skree, accompanied by a wall of effects, a great drummer and a couple dudes who just skulked around the stage glaring at the audience. Wicked. Not many people seemed to like it, go figure. Then our category was announced, The Devin Townsend Band won, good for him, he wasn’t there to pick it up, we headed for the exits ’cause we had the Junofest show at This Ain’t Hollywood to play. We had a blast playing and hanging out with the bands and people who were there, an obvious reminder to me of exactly why I do this, to play and share our primitive assault with whoever gives a toss. A lot of the Teenage Head fans just sorta stared. They didn’t throw any bottles though. Which in this band counts as a “win”.
So on Sunday, we hung out at our hotel in Burlington eating pizza and watching extreme watersliding on the tube till it was time to go to the arena for the BIG EVENT (i almost didn’t go due to stomach issues, but manned up at the last minute). We park a couple blocks away, smoke some smokes and make our way to the main carpet/ tent area and get in line for our grand entrance. I should mention now that this whole weekend, anyone who we dealt with or who was working the Juno’s was nothing but super nice and helpful to us, to a fault. Hamilton IS a friendly fucking place. But then the most un-nerving thing happened. YOUNG TEENAGE GIRLS SCREAMING. No, reader, not for us, but for who I later found out is Shawn Mendes, apparently a Youtube sensation of some sorts. Good for him. But that reverb of shrill histrionics bounced around my empty skull, nearly inducing me to fill my shorts (stomach still tender). We go out on another red carpet, people who have no idea who we are snap some more photos and yell incomprehensibly at us to move “THIS WAY, THAT WAY!!!” Yikes! We step out and find we are in a squared circle of screaming reporters and young girls, some strange Orwellian voice over a PA exhorting the assembled mob to “SCREAM LOUDER, MAKE SOME NOISE etc”. Sweet fucking Christ, get me outta here! At the end of the gauntlet, Mac Demarco (there for Chart Attack mag) gets us involved in a couple selfies, I have a quick chat and he seems like a completely great guy in addition to putting out great tunes. Eager to depart, I dive down the nearest stairwell and emerge into the bowels of the arena and, you guessed it, more free beer. We post up and gulp down again with the Woods dudes, some un-named parties make the men’s bathroom into a hazy cloud (reportedly causing The Barenaked Ladies’ Steven Page to nervously remark “I gotta get outta here!”) and before you know it, we’re off to our seats to take in the show.
The show? The less said the better. I left after the third commercial break to go have a nap in the van, didn’t go back. The only thing I can possibly say to sum it up is that while that whole sort of thing may be someone’s version of reality, it’s not mine. I play music for myself and whoever may happen to enjoy it, not for a shot at seeing my reflection in what is a glittering neon mural of zero consequence. Yeah, we went, we did it but we should’ve put out a 7″ record instead. Just my lowly opinion. So there you go.
Editor’s Note: Portions of this write up appeared in a Planet S Magazine article by Craig Silliphant about the whole debacle, with an added interview with Shooting Guns drummer Jim Ginther.