Alive Naturalsound Records

Independent record label based in LA. Home to The Black Keys, Two Gallants, Buffalo Killers, Radio Moscow, Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires, Hacienda, John The Conqueror, Brian Olive, Black Diamond Heavies, Left Lane Cruiser, T-Model Ford, Thomas Function, Waves Of Fury, etc. More at

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

BUFFALO KILLERS - Downtown Money Waster

The Buffalo Killers
Blaring Musical Defiance
Words by Martin Halo

Cincinnati, Ohio

Ambassadors of the vintage spirit in the manner of grimy, garage-laden, blues and swagger struck in the aching heart of American expression. They are rugged, dirty in a manner of vagabond journeymen who find musical balance on a platform of independent vision. Cincinnati warms in their presence as homegrown outlaws blaring musical defiance. The Buffalo Killers are bearded and abrasive in their reverberations - from all accounts, the way rock n' roll was meant to be.

"Take the Black Keys for example," says bassist Zach Gabbard, "look at what they do. They have done their own thing and have proven beyond a doubt that they could do it successfully. They are great. The Black Crowes are the same way; they are not people that need other people to tell them what to do. Musicians have learned to do so much over the last 10 years on their own, even if you are on a major label these days, you are still your own person. You still call the shots. I think it is without a doubt manageable to do this on your own and not ever have to worry about Columbia. Face it," says Gabbard with a little smile, "they don't give a shit about you anyway!"

Founded by brothers Zachary (bass) and Andrew Gabbard (guitars) under the group name Thee Shams - later to be joined by drummer Joseph Sebaali -- The Buffalo Killers sparked the injection with a rumble straight out of Rich Robinson's handbook. Thick riffs, tension-driven progressions, and molasses clogged grooves. Their record deal, at Alive via Burbank, was initiated by a blank demo disc blindly sent in the mail with nothing more than 'Buffalo Killers and a phone number' tagged, permanent marker style, on its face.

Alive Records CEO, Patrick Boissel, sealed the deal with a phone call back to Ohio and the mailing of a check to lift the band through the remaining studio plunge.

"The past records the Buffalo Killers have made," explains Gabbard, "we got into the studio for a couple weeks in a row and that is it. We wanted to be able to go in a record exactly how we are at that time."

Now, as 2009 is only a few days away, Gabbard sheds light on the present recording landscape and possibilities. "We are going to take a whole month off and make a record," he says. "We have never taken that much time off before to do something like this. We are looking to get down to business in the New Year."

"I think we are going to try and explore a little more mellowed out, country twang. But it is still us. It is still going to be… you know," as laughter follows.
The quick step forward is more than welcome after we found ourselves gushing over their release of their sophomore LP, "Let It Ride," back in July of 2008. Now with more touring ahead alongside the Black Keys who, incidentally, became fast friends with the Gabbard's while both bands were in their infancies trolling the clubs of Akron. They are close enough that Dan Auerbach invited the band to his newly built studio to produce Let It Ride.

Auerbach figured it was a great way to lock them down after, what he describes, as a sly move. "They basically made their first record and didn't tell me! I picked it up after it came out and was blown away by the distance they had traveled musically since the time they disbanded Thee Shams," says Auerbach. "I called them up and was just basically like, 'you guys are going to make a record and not call me?'"

"We didn't even tell people we were making a record back with the first album," explains Gabbard. "When we make a record it is like we are building a house. We built it in hopes of selling that house. That is how we approached it."

They remained close friends, through to this very day. The similarities in their choice of tones and style are hard to overlook.

"Everyone acts if things are so dismal in music, and people having access to your music is so awful," continues Gabbard. "The only complaint I have with it is that people put too much out there. There needs to be the mystery of everything; that allure. Even down to how a band looks, I feel. As a kid I always dug looking at record covers and nobody is there, or the picture is so distorted that you couldn't even make out who they were. The Internet is a flood of a lot of information, and rock n' roll is more open now days because of it."

"Because of the web the only controllable income left is touring. It is just something you have to accept. As an artist you are starving for something. Whether it is for people to look at you or literally hungry and you are playing to eat. You got to be hungry for something, have to be struggling with something."

"The exposure is everywhere and I think rock n' roll is going to continue to be an underground thing because of it. I hate to use the term underground, but it is more of, 'I'm in the know, you're in the know,' kind of thing," Gabbard concludes. - The

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