The guys in We Hunt Buffalo have conflicting opinions about seeds.
The grimy, stoner-rock three-piece hailing from Fort Langley—made up of guitarist-vocalist Ryan Forsythe, bassist Brendan Simpson, and drummer Brandon Carter—got its start in the CFOX Vancouver Seeds competition under its former band name, Yesterday’s Forgotten.
“And it certainly is forgotten,” Carter jokes, recalling yesteryears of writing radio-friendly tunes for the competition responsible for making the Matthew Good Band famous. Along with his bandmates, he’s hanging with the Georgia Straight at the Surrey’s Central City Brewing Co. pub.
We Hunt Buffalo, which made the list of 20 finalists in the competition in 2010, recalls the experience with a certain ambivalence.
“That was a real big eye-opener for us of commercial radio in Vancouver,” Forsythe says. “We didn’t like it one bit. We just made the conscious decision that this wasn’t what we wanted to do—we had to change the sound up, because our heart was kind of in heavier, more impactful music, whereas we were kind of just putting our foot in the water with it before.”
Not exactly content to colour inside the lines of radio-rock music, the band—which now adheres to a heavier, fuzzed-out, and psychedelic style of rock—felt a little put off by the whole process of the voter-influenced competition.
“I don’t like the whole ‘vote for our band’ kind of thing. If they came and said ‘We’d really like to play your music,’ that’d be awesome. Whatever it takes for more people to like our music,” Carter says. “Maybe if it didn’t have anything to do with bugging your friends to vote for you.”
“Yeah, if it happens naturally,” adds Forsythe. “The whole Seeds thing is just such a weird scene. We’ll leave them nameless, but we know of bands who create multiple email accounts and ways to get around the system. If they were to change the process of how it works, it would be a little more desirable, maybe.”
Since then, We Hunt Buffalo purports it has mostly strayed away from competing in contests and is, instead, hoping to gain publicity through its social-media savvy and by releasing digital singles for free. The trio’s departure from radio-friendly formatted songs to its heavier stuff, funnily enough, started with a different kind of seed. An inspiring—and very legal—trip on hallucinogenic seeds gave way to We Hunt Buffalo’s fuzz-heavy “Strange Sensation”, the opening track on the band’s self-titled LP, which was released on vinyl in January.
“We went down [to the Urban Shaman] and he had these things called Hawaiian Baby Woodrose seeds, and I bought them—I paid GST on them at the time,” recalls Forsythe, stressing their legality. “We brought them home, and I had done a bit of research on them beforehand and learned that they contained LSA—a sister compound to LSD.”
Carter pipes up to say he didn’t partake in the Woodrose seeds—instead, he was ripped on a handful of designer drugs he’d ordered off the Internet.
“Also totally legal,” he adds.
“We headed up into the forest behind Carter’s house,” Forsythe explains. “It’s a beautiful property, just acres and acres of forest and at the top there’s this open pasture, which is an unfinished golf course. We were up there for a few hours; after three or four hours we went back to the house and were sitting in my room and then all of a sudden, all of us simultaneously looked at each other and we were like ‘Holy shit, what is going on?’ It really just hit another level.…Then we kind of hit this state where it was full-on, felt this connection to everything. It was the LSA—it is what it was—we all came out of it having a really crazy experience….So, yeah, then we wrote a song about it.”
Other songs on the 45-minute record include “Northern Desert”, a lick-heavy progressive tune with crashing drums about a scorching heat wave that nearly knocked out Simpson, who’s a road-paver by day.
“‘Northern Desert’ was written about working outside doing road construction,” he says. “I’m a paver so it was that heat wave two or three years ago. It was 40 degrees out and I was standing on top of 150-degree asphalt and it felt like the desert sun in the northern desert. It was brutal,” says Simpson.
“Digital Reich” gets a little more experimental, with growling vocals atop lush progressive twists and turns that stray from the bluesier elements of the disc’s other tracks. On the rest of the LP, “The Middle Son” starts off with a tribal, hypnotizing drumbeat and repetitive riffs that build to a satisfying explosion, while a cover of King Crimson’s “21st Century Schizoid Man” features riffs and refrains that stay true to the late-’60s original.
We Hunt Buffalo’s distinctive sound is characterized by hefty, overdriven bass and guitar, always maintaining a psychedelic flair. In fact, its new songs evoke early Neil Young and Crazy Horse, but those might show up as digital singles rather than on an album anytime soon.
“I think with the resurgence of the heavier stuff we’re trying to do, it seems like we’re trying to progressively get harder and heavier and more impactful,” Carter says. “It feels like it’s going to be the general theme for the next few songs. Like we said, we want to write a fucking barn burner.”
We Hunt Buffalo plays the Media Club on Saturday (April 21).