Vancouver’s Big John Bates plays his fingers to the bones with new bass maniac

Big John Bates brings his new band, featuring bass player Brandy Bones, to Doc Willoughby's pub in Kelowna

  • Aug. 8, 2012 5:00 p.m.
Big John Bates comes to Doc Willoughby's Pub on Aug. 24 with a new band and a new look—sans Voodoo Dolls.

Big John Bates comes to Doc Willoughby's Pub on Aug. 24 with a new band and a new look—sans Voodoo Dolls.

Big John Bates is on his way to town, though this time he’s floating a musical adventure without the Voodoo Dolls.

For the last couple of years the Vancouver-based musician—who got his start in Annihilator, Canada’s top-selling metal band, then formed an act touring with burlesque dancers, Big John Bates and the Voodoo Dolls—has been floating around on his boat-cum-home with bass player Brandy Bones writing a heavy Americana garage punk album.

“I’ve lived in the boat for about five years,” said Bates. “My father used to be a boat captain and my brother gave me one, and then I just kept upgrading from there.”

Today, his floating musical paradise serves as the ultimate jam studio with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra’s French horn player mooring a few slips away and a cello, banjo, violin, bass and three guitars on board his own floating oasis.

Describing the band’s new sound as “rustic punk,” publicity for this first full-length album, to be released in Germany next month, states right up front it’s “like being serenaded with a rusty hammer.”

“It’s definitely an extreme departure (from the Voodoo Dolls), but there are so many different textures and sounds, people are definitely liking it,” said Bates.

Inspiration for the musical about-face stems from Bones, a country-influenced upright bass player from Montana with a mind-blowing style of her own. Bates and Bones first started playing their music in public while touring the States with drummer JT Massacre, who rejoined the band after a two year absencefrom working with Bates.

For this Penticton-Kelowna-Kamloops tour, the band will also be incorporating tuba and organ player Khadijah, originally from Singapore, and take in a little of the Okanagan summer.

“I have got a lot of friends in the Okanagan,” said Bates, noting his brother even lives in the area. “We always have to schedule a day off when we’re there.”

And while he’s certainly spent his fair share of time on the water, he’ll likely have to leave the 40-foot Uniflite Cabin Cruiser where the music all got started—at home. He was quoted $5000 to bring it up the highway.

There’s a chance you might catch him on his motorcycle, nonetheless. Big John Bates plays Doc Willoughby’s Pub on Friday, Aug. 24.

Kelowna Capital News