Duo seizes the day

The end of the world on the minds of blues-rockers Harpoonist & the Axe Murderer


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What would do you if an apocalypse were on the horizon? Hunker down and hope to survive or live it up like there’s no tomorrow?

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 07/04/2017 (2185 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

What would do you if an apocalypse were on the horizon? Hunker down and hope to survive or live it up like there’s no tomorrow?

Vancouver-based blues-rock duo the Harpoonist & the Axe Murderer lean toward the latter option on their new record, Apocalipstick, which explores some intense lyrical ground while still living up to their raucous, soulful and dance-inducing reputation.


“We live in pretty uncertain times, and not that the end of the world is necessarily inevitable, but there’s a lot of crap going on that certainly isn’t pleasant. There’s a few references to that in the lyrics of songs, like Get Ready is — even though it doesn’t seem like it from the beat and major key of it — it’s actually a song about the end of the world. The idea of it started as it being a warning song to our kids, actually… like, just get ready because the world is not always awesome,” says Matthew (the Axe Murderer) Rogers of the record.

“Musically we kind of translated that as well into more end-of-the-world-style sonic landscapes, so sort of more gritty, psychedelic stuff that reminds me of the end of the world…

“And the title being Apocalipstick is the juxtaposition of the end of the world against something that’s frivolous and fun and reminding us of going out and dancing,” he says.

Rogers and Hall have just started touring Apocalipstick across Canada and for the first time, they’ve got a drummer in tow to round out their live setup. The pair take the live show into heavy consideration early on in the album-creation process, often penning songs specifically to fill holes they know they have in the setlist.

“We like to write songs that we know people are going to enjoy live and we also like to write songs that are going to fit into our setlist live… whether it’s just a specific type of groove or we feel like, ‘Oh, our live set really needs some more two-step super-upbeat numbers,’ we’ll actually try and write those so that we can incorporate that into our show,” says Rogers.

The Harpoonist & the Axe Murderer primarily work as a duo, but for this record, they decided to invite musicians from all over the country whom they’ve met on their travels to contribute to the album. About 10 extra musicians filled various roles — from providing backing vocals to ripping out organ licks — which helped round out the sound and added a new energy to the recording process for Rogers and his musical partner Shawn (the Harpoonist) Hall.

“They’re the people we’ve been meeting and whose playing and musicianship we really love and admire. It just felt like a really natural thing for us to want to bring them into the fold and utilize their talents to make us sound better,” says Rogers, laughing. “It’s also just to keep things interesting for us, to develop and not have it be the same — to keep things evolving and using people we know and love and have a good time with in the studio.’

One of those voices will be familiar for Winnipeg audiences — Alexa Dirks, who performs under the name Begonia, and her former bandmate from Chic Gamine, Andrina Turenne, can be heard belting out their choral parts on several tracks.

“They’re really incredible,” Rogers says of Dirks and Turenne. “The musicians in Winnipeg are just the best in the country. If we could, we would probably record in Winnipeg and just use all your players out there. They’re all so damn good.”

erin.lebar@freepress.mb.caTwitter: @NireRabel

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