jack rabbit slims

NHC GONZO DIVISION MEETS JACK RABBIT SLAMS - C. T. Herron

I find my weary mortal-remains once again in the architecturally-delightful metropolis of Edinburgh, which is a city that puts me in mind of a cleaner, slightly-modernised  version of Ankh-Morpork. A city which is the polar opposite of its unruly neighbour Glasgow. Scruffy charisma vs. opulent ostentatiousness. Medieval lanes vs shady back alleys. Cliques vs overly-friendly drunks. And NEDs vs… Well, NEDs with more intimidating accents. I prefer Glasgow, that’s why I live there, but Edinburgh is not without its charm. I’d probably feel more at home in Edinburgh out in the surrounding areas, the rough parts, where everyone but junkies fear to tread. That’s more my kind of scene… I prefer Glasgow to Edinburgh for the same reason I prefer jakey old man pubs to yuppie wine bars.

I’m up here to see The Howling Lords and to meet a band who have been on my radar a few times but who I haven’t experienced yet; Jack Rabbit Slams (a cool name is always a good start for any band!). They’re playing in Bannerman’s Bar as part of the The Howling Lords’ ‘Texas Medicine’ tour, for the album of the same name; a fantastic album, you can find my review of it here: https://www.newhellfireclub.co.uk/news/2018/11/5/the-howling-lords-texas-medicine-album-review-c-t-herron

After circumnavigating the streets of Edinburgh which twist like entrails in the guts of the city; over vaults and tunnels, we arrive, quite high on potent marijuana and slightly tipsy on Stormy Cloudy Apple Strongbow, at the designated den of iniquity. Not being too familiar with this bit of Edinburgh, I don’t know what to expect at the venue Bannerman’s, and so when we arrive at a cosy little bar to find four dishevelled figures crammed into a corner poking each other with their instruments and trying (not unsuccessfully) to do a folksy version of a Ziggy Stardust song to a small disinterested crowd of onlookers we assume this is the gig and settle in…

After purchasing social-lubricants (meads, which they warmed by plunging a hot poker in) and settling in to watch the performance, with no sign of those damned Stornaway Vikings anywhere, our marijuana-laced minds became relaxed in the small confines of the wee bar, listening to the jangling of confused instruments, until Felix eventually materialised out of a side portal wearing a leather hood and carrying a large crossbow…

And now, armed with a guide to lead me through the archways and hidden rooms of the building, I realise I have mistaken this establishment for being a tiny little bar when in fact it’s a sprawling complex of interlocking buildings that houses a lounge, a gig room, and even an upstairs accommodation for the bands playing, and god-knows-what-else, probably a scullery and a stable! It’s not unlike a village inn you might find in Game of Thrones, just replace the swords with mobile phones and you’re there. What I mean is, Bannerman’s has a look and feel to it like it may once have been a medieval inn, filled with swordsman and serving wenches and peasants and cutthroats.

Carrying our brimming flagons of mead, and sidestepping a few dwarves playing some sort of game that involves throwing daggers into the wall, Felix shows us to upstairs; a winding staircase that leads up to what looks like a squatter’s flat, and is really, seeing as it’s given over to musicians; you know what musicians are like! There was women and whiskey and drugs strewn everywhere, actually not so much the drugs, well not strewn anyway, so I provided my own by rolling a blunt and sitting on the windowsill to smoke it, looking out at the jagged, smoky, hodgepodge rooftops of Auld Reekie.

After my joint I was introduced to a handsome bunch of rockers, and this was Jack Rabbit Slams; cutting a fine figure they sat down on a battered couch, Sean, Archie and Rob, and I sat on the well-worn coffee table and fired up the old Dictaphone; this is what happened next:  

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GONZO DIV: So how long have you been a band?

ROB (guitar/vocs): Just under three years, I started jamming with Sean first, and then it took us like an age to find a bassplayer, er for whatever reason it just took absolute ages and ages and ages, nobody seemed to play bass in the whole central belt of Scotland…

NHC: It’s really strange that, it seems to be a prevalent problem among bands!?

ROB: Aye, I dunno’, it just seemed to take like ages and ages to even get a reply, ended up Chris came and joined, but he’s actually just left us the now, nu’hin bad happened, just one o’ they things, we decided to part ways. So Archie’s jumped-in and replaced him, three weeks’ notice man, learned a full album’s worth o’ songs, fuck!

NHC: So why is it so hard to find a bassplayer Archie?

ARCHIE (bass): Easy way to put it; my dad’s been playing bass for years and every time he goes to the toilet someone’ll come up to him and tell him his band’s really class, or you were really good up there, and he’d be like ‘I’m not on stage for another fifteen minutes!’ So that’s why, cos’ no-one gives a shit about the bassplayer.

NHC: Maybe it takes a special, rare breed of demented human to play bass…

ARCHIE: You don’t wanna’ be seen in the spotlight…

SEAN (drums): Everyone’s wantin’ to be a guitar-player innit’, cos’ it’s cool.

NHC: Aye, showing off! So Jack Rabbit Slams, is that a reference to Pulp Fiction?

ROB: Ha! Aye, and naw… Er, we kept tryin’ to think o’ names and er, every time you try n’ name a band every name just sounds shite. If ye’ think o’ big bands now, like The Beatles, the first one that said ‘let’s be called The Beatles’…

NHC: The Beatles is a shite name, it’s not even a good play-on-words…

ROB: I know aye, it’s a mince name, but we were hitting about with loadsa’ ideas n’that and I actually thought the restaurant in Pulp Fiction was called Jack Rabbit Slams, but it’s actually Jack Rabbit Slims…

NHC: Haha, so that play-on-words was a mistake!

ROB: Aye and I put out all the posters and realised we’d misspelled it, but it actually worked out better cos’ on Youtube there’s lotsa’ videos for Jack Rabbit Slims, but we’re the only ones that come up for Jack Rabbit Slams…

NHC: And I thought it was like a play-on-words like a heavy-rocking band with a nod to Pulp Fiction’s dance scene! So speaking of heavy-rocking, what do you describe yourselves as, cos’ I’ve not had the pleasure of seeing you yet, judging by the sound-check I heard, are you stoner rock, psychedelic metal…?

ROB: Er naw man, just like… [long pause]…

NHC: Rock & roll?

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SEAN: Hard rock

ROB: Aye, high-energy rock, we’ve no really got any slow songs, sleazy rock & roll, sleazy, anytime we’ve been reviewed the word sleazy comes up. Dirty and sleazy, that’s the two words that always come up in reviews.

NHC: Grimy, grungy, unctuous. Any upcoming gigs or albums you wanna’ promote?

ROB: Aye, everything man, we’ve got an album called ‘Crackerjack’ which comes out in June, the first single will be coming out in the middle of May, we’ve got a video coming out for it, we’ve got merch; t-shirts, badges, everything, we’ve been really hard at work…

NHC: Have you got a website or is it just the social media? Stupid question really, who has a website these days!? When do you ever go on a band’s actual website!?

ROB: Aye, well we just finished the album and we were thinkin’ o’ different ways to promote it and obviously you’ve gotta’ have social media, although it should be about the tunes, not the likes and shares and that, but you can’t fight against social media, it’s impossible…

NHC: It depends how you use it, if you use it negatively, you can go on stuff you don’t like and moan about it, or you can go on stuff you actually like and promote it and spread positivity…

ROB: That’s it man, but you feel ever-so-slightly cheap having to go on Facebook and that and having to beg to promote your posts…

NHC: Ok, if I switched all your instruments to the left, would you still be able to function as a band?

ROB: Errrrm, naw! Haha!

SEAN: I can’t play bass or guitar or sing, so I’d be fucked…

ROB: Aw man the singing, holy shit…

NHC: So the band would collapse…

ROB: On the first EP we wanted Sean to do backing vocals for one chorus and er, it was…

SEAN: Autotune couldn’t even fix it

ROB: Aye, I’m no having a go at ye’ this is just genuine fact, it was fucking horrendous, cos’ he didn’t have anything to dae’ with his hands, he was just standing all nervous and we’re like “what ye’ daein’” n’ he’s like “what do I dae” and we’re like “just fucking stand and sing!” Like four notes or something like that, it just wisnae’ happenin’. I had to go and get my wee brother and get him to come through from fucking Glasgow just to record one line!

NHC: Okay, final question; the apocalypse is definitely coming, how do you think it’s gonna’ happen?

ROB: Ooft, well, it could be a zombie apocalypse…

NHC: You really think there’s gonna’ be a zombie apocalypse!?

ROB: It was actually just a ruthless plug for our video, which is zombie-themed, which’ll be coming out with the single in May.

NHC: That question was a good segue then! Sean, how do you think the world’s gonna’ end?

SEAN: Probably robots isn’t it, artificial intelligence, it’s slowly happening now, slowly but surely…

ROB: Skynet!

NHC: People say we’re starting to be infiltrated by AI but they don’t realise Google is technically AI and we’ve been using that for decades!

ROB: I’m prepared man cos’ I have watched The Terminator series maire’ times than any human on Earth…

NHC: And what valuable wisdom did you glean from that? The only way to kill it is to dip it in molten steel?

ROB: I’m the real John Connor, yiz’ are all laughin’ noo but I’m the real John Connor!

NHC: You look like the real life John Connor, you’ve got a post-apocalyptic vibe! How do you think the world’s gonna’ end Archie?

ARCHIE: North Korea man.

NHC: Good answer.

ROB: Fuck, you been reading the Daily Mail again!?

NHC: Ebola spiders coming from North Korea disguised as Muslims, that’s the kinda’ headlines you get in the Daily Mail.

ROB: Aye, I want to change my answer to that actually.

NHC: Yours was the most far-fetched I think, Archie and Sean were on-the-button. It could just be the flu; “A message sent to other worlds will say it’s ‘just the flu’”

ROB: Something needs to be done, the maire’ times I watch ‘Infinity War’ the maire’ I’m on Thanos’ side, know what I mean…

The conversation took a dark, sinister, controversial turn after that, and I’m knackered from scribing, so we’ll leave it there…

Except to say, that afterwards Jack Rabbit Slams absolutely fucking blew me away from the spot I was standing on! Call it stoner rock, psychedelic metal, hardcore rock & roll, high-octane rock, bluesy-grunge, cosmic chaos, call it all those things; call it what you like, but it’s fucking impressive! Bands with leporids in their name are always good, like the seldom-seen Bastard Killed My Rabbit, The Frightened Rabbits, Echo & The Bunnymen etc. and now Jack Rabbit Slams.

One of my best live experiences of 2019 so far (and I’m writing this in June). Their sound was very much in the vein of Kyuss, Clutch or QOTSA. If you like your rock music with a bit of testicular fortitude I suggest you get out and see them. I was absolutely astonished by the drumming, which put me in mind of Travis Barker a lot. I haven’t used the word sleazy to describe the band once, and if you were to consult the thesaurus for alternatives to the word sleazy you would find that none of them are very complimentary anyway.

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The Howling Lords were, of course, married finely to JRS with their own style of hard-hitting-blues-viking-rock! The two bands complimented each other well, and left my ears suitably-ringing.  Although the release of this article was delayed the timing has actually worked out well as JRS are about to drop their new video for the single from the forthcoming album, ‘Crackerjack’. And I have a feeling it’s going to be a very, very good album, maybe even a contender for local album of 2019! A real flagship album for Scotland’s heavy-rock scene no doubt. Check out the teaser for it here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yNxUQ_DjjJ0 and its due release is 14/06. A definite band to watch!

                                                                     Seeya’ in the world-famous Jack Rabbit Slams’ Twist Contest! 

C.T Herron (Gonzo Div.)