ARTISTS on ARTISTS: Chris Laramee

By in Culture

Arts Editor

Chris Laramee loves The Brian Jonestown Massacre. Over the past few years, his obsession for the album Their Satanic Majesty’s Second Request has set down considerable psychic roots.

The Sheaf interviewed Laramee, one of Saskatoon’s most prolific psychedelic musicians (Water Color Movement, Parades against Parades, Slow Thrills, Golden Smoke and Shooting), on the sounds of Brian Jonestown and, in particular, Their Satanic Majesty’s Second Request.


The Sheaf: How would you describe the Brian Jonestown Massacre?
Chris Laramee: The Brian Jonestown Massacre is basically continuing on the Spaceman 3 genre. They are very British influenced. They have that kind of accessible but droned-out, drug-rock band sound. As characters they are also very entertaining.

I got to meet (the lead singer and song-writer) Anton once. It was all right. He was coked out of his mind. I saw them in Edmonton two years ago to the day. It was a four-hour show; well past curfew. The place should have been shut down.

I heard on the same tour they did shit shows, like 40 minutes long. The last full length sucked. Stinko; absolutely stinky! But I like the balls of Their Satanic Majesty’s Second Request. It’s a ballsy move calling the album that. But then they live up to it. This album is as good as any Rolling Stones album and I love the Stones.

Sheaf: What is it about the album that keeps you listening?
Laramee: The Massacre has been around 18 years now. The thing with Their Satanic Majesty’s Second Request is that it’s rock musicians trying to do Indian music, which usually results in horribly pretentious garbage but not with this. There is sitar on this; there are blues changes, pop changes, but there are so many layers on this, almost verging onto dissonance.

It almost put me off initially but then it’s like Indian music, trying to get you out of your body with repetition. The instrumentation and the aim of this album was full immersion. They don’t have an orchestra but they’re going to make one. This whole album is like one track to me, not lyrically, but in terms of their intent. I can’t believe this album is not exalted. Well, I guess it is.

Sheaf: When did you first hear them?
Laramee: I heard about them from my friend Chris. He was into them in 1994. I got into them at that time somewhat, but hearing them here and there. Actually I have to honestly say that the Dig documentary got me back into them.

Also, Terry Mattson (Golden Smoke, Junior Pantherz) got me back into them big-time. He burned me a copy of this album and I ordered it on vinyl. I was listening to it daily for like eight months or, at the very least, I would play it after work. I would play Tiger Woods Golf and listen to this and drink. A little weed too. Just one hit and go on this.

The Brian Jonestown Best Of is at the Vinyl Diner and is well worth getting. There are a lot of great album tracks on there and quite a few from Their Satanic Majesty’s Second Request.

It sounds like Bob Dylan jamming on Saturn with the ghost of Reverend Gary Davis, the good reverend.

Sheaf: Do you consider your approach to making music as similar in any way?
Laramee: My music is often stylistically similar but in terms of the repetition of this album and the use of massive cool guitars and how to orchestrate guitars. Maybe not too successfully, but I’ve been trying to get it together. He offers a way of showing how to reinterpret stuff that you like without slavishly imitating. It sounds like Bob Dylan jamming on Saturn with the ghost of Reverend Gary Davis, the good reverend. Check him out if you haven’t heard him.

Sheaf: They have an infamous stage show. Is it an act or what?
Laramee: When I saw them they just played. They are for real. The hype aside and the stage antics, when Anton wants to he can lead the band and they just play. It was genius.
They sounded orchestral in the best sense that a rock band can. They had like three guitars, a bass player, two drummers and a keyboard player. They kicked up some noise but it was controlled too.

I yelled out for the song “Wisdom.” Anton just looks at the band and they proceeded to play it for 40 minutes. They got into a trance playing it. It has one of those riffs that has the ability to be a monster jam.

That show made me a big fan. They are on par with the greats. People tend to think rock ‘n’ roll is done; but no, it can happen any time. There’s no end. It is a continuation. Lightning can strike at any time, especially when you play in a sort of improvised way.

Sheaf: Who are you playing with these days?
Laramee: Just Shooting now. Me, Shelby Gaudet, Chad Munson and Terry Mattson are going to start playing as Golden Smoke again.

And I got my own stuff too. It’s me wanting to play Spacemen 3, basically. It’s called All Night. Shelby is gracing me with some of her stellar guitar stuff on that too.

graphic Robby Davis