One step forward became two steps back for the Bloodshots.

One step forward became two steps back for the Bloodshots.

The hard-driving Selkirk rockers had just signed with the Australian label Golden Robot Records in early 2020. What would have been the five-piece group’s big break screeched to a halt, owing to the pandemic.

The Bloodshots have signed with the Australian label Golden Robot Records.

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The Bloodshots have signed with the Australian label Golden Robot Records.

"It really messed things up," says CJ Loane, the Bloodshots’ frontman and guitarist. "One of the things we were excited about signing with them is they were offering tour support, which is huge. We’d get out on the road more."

The group, which includes Loane, Keith Skazyk, Garret Evans, Jared Masters and Orvis Thomas, released a self-titled EP in 2017 that earned a Indigenous Music Award nomination. Thomas and Loane are Indigenous while Skazyk and Masters are Métis.

Besides their gigs in and around Winnipeg, they’d opened shows for grunge and metal mainstays such as Slash, Buckcherry, Danko Jones, Finger Eleven and Moist, giving them the chance to take the stage at venues such as the Club Regent Event Centre and the Centennial Concert Hall. 

A view of the rock lifestyle from the more famous groups kept them going.

"We figured that everything with this band has been going on an incline year after year. Maybe we’ve taken it as far as we can ourselves an maybe we need to go the next step," Loane says.

So once the deal with Golden Robot was finalized, the Bloodshots were told to hit the studio and record some singles. The label would send the singles out and they’d send the band on tour wherever the songs found an audience, Loane says.

"If they catch on in the U.K. or in Japan or wherever, he said. ‘We gotta send our bands wherever they’re peaking, so get ready and we’ll see how it goes.’ We were excited about going to play over the pond."

Video hits

TWO new videos that came out late last week shine new light on singles previously released by Winnipeg singer-songwriters.

The first, Fear, the title track from Begonia’s 2019 album, adds a whole new intensity to the song’s lyrics by using the many balconies and loges of an empty Burton Cummings Theatre.

TWO new videos that came out late last week shine new light on singles previously released by Winnipeg singer-songwriters.

The first, Fear, the title track from Begonia’s 2019 album, adds a whole new intensity to the song’s lyrics by using the many balconies and loges of an empty Burton Cummings Theatre.

The track already had an urgent feeling; seeing Begonia suspended above the Burt’s stage in a harness and belting lyrics such as “Fear of never getting it together / Fear of being lazy / Fear of the mouse in my kitchen / Fear of going crazy” drives home the unsettling feelings all people have at one time or another.

While Begonia shot the video in 2019, it’s become apropos for pandemic-wrought 2020. Empty concert halls are one of the symbols of how COVID-19, and the fear of contracting the deadly virus, has crushed the entertainment world.

The second video, Bedsheets, by Winnipeg singer-songwriter Olivia Lunny, also exudes feelings of solitude many people are living in 2020.

The song is about the after-effects of a breakup, but the video suggest the separation of a couple. Lunny sings alone in her apartment, walks alone on an empty beach or in the nightime at a vacant amusement park.

The settings, along with Lunny’s whispery vocals, amplify the song’s sad lyrics and theme.

But instead of performing at gigs all summer, they’ve had to work away from the stage. Loane, 37, for instance, works two jobs these days, as an educational assistant at a high school and picked up work helping out at a group home for people with intellectual disabilities.

"We had plans to be trying to make a full-time go of the band thing in the fall and all of that has stopped for who knows how long. It is what it is and you got to do what you have to do," he says.

Nearly eight months later, they’ve begun picking themselves up off the ground after the pandemic knockout. Instead of a tour to Europe, Australia or Asia though, their label is releasing one Bloodshot single every month or so to drum up some interest. The first, No Way Out, comes out Nov. 9.

"Our guy at the label told us to just focus on singles right now because that’s the way the world is going," Loane says. "If we can hit it with one good single off the bat and keep the momentum going, who knows where the world will be in the spring and we’ll see what we can do at that point."

The new song is a bit of a change for the group, which followed the well-worn grunge path in its early days.

"This one came out with a more of a punky feel I think. We tested it out at a few shows we were allowed to do and it was received really well," Loane says.

The only way to go is up, Loane believes. Many of those big-name bands they’d open for would encourage them, saying they might have a chance in Europe with its dedicated hard-rock and metal community. 

"Right now we’re actually getting a lot of press there," he says. "We have the single over there on some radio shows so we’re getting tagged a lot on social media. That’s exciting."

 

alan.small@freepress.mb.ca  

Twitter:@AlanDSmall

Alan Small

Alan Small
Reporter

Alan Small has been a journalist at the Free Press for more than 22 years in a variety of roles, the latest being a reporter in the Arts and Life section.

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