First off, apologies for the space between posts. It’s been weeks and weeks since I’ve last posted (since either of us have posted), what with multiple bands, Christmas, releases and multiple other distractions that trump the internet... That said, I made sure that my first post back would be a hefty one. Second, this is the first of the new “Classics” posts. Of course as soon as we decided this, the first thing we did was begin to argue over what exactly belongs here. Needless to say, we are going to try not to use this space to raise our own favourites, things that we feel SHOULD be classics (because lord knows there are way too many of those that SHOULD be classics) but rather to focus on the very real lineage and influence these records have inspired. Just because the record is good does not necessarily make it classic. The reason we added this space was because I am aware that we have many younger readers, and it has come to my attention that there appears to be some alarming gaps in peoples’ catalogues. I realize that many of these “Classics” may not exactly be new to many and are somewhat widely available (relatively) elsewhere. We here at GonnaGetSued pride ourselves on the fact that the majority of what we post is not available or covered on other blogs, but nevertheless we feel it is important to highlight records we deem to be highly important and influential to the genre. We are not bloggers, we are historians.
Shotmaker hailed from Bellville, ON and were an integral part of the Ottawa scene in the early-through-mid-90’s. The influence Shotmaker exert over the genre can been seen far and wide: The rhythmic basslines of The Plan, the heavy bombast of Damages ...it all can be traced right back to Shotmaker. Matt Deline’s drumming was a great influence on my own drumming back in the toethteeth/tothehilt days. (Disclosure: I had one of the very few fan-boy moments the day I met Matt Deline, one of those embarrassing “your music means a lot to me” sort of moments.) Even the idea that Canada was a place where hardcore thrived come right back to here. Even in their active days, Shotmaker stood miles above their contemporaries.
Influence aside, let’s be clear right off the bat, Shotmaker are among the most hard-hitting, most powerful, smartest, surest bands ever to exist, hardcore or otherwise. They are the cherry on the top of the sundae of a million other good bands. While I have no doubt they could have been showing off, instead they are perfectly complimentary in every way – there are no overly complicated parts, nothing that makes them stand out as remarkable in terms of musical skill – but remarkable in the sense of being a cohesive unit, a veritable Canadian 3-headeed Cerebus of hardcore. Even just playing a charging drum line (no fills, no frills) became such a revelation to me; that a great band is not made on skill and talent alone, but rather the pure emotion that can be distilled in a performance. I can think of no finer example.
This has been written about somewhere on the internet before, but even the pictures of the band bear a lot of weight. They aren’t wearing hardcore costumes, they’re just dudes. Even this idea, that the members of toughest sounding band in the world could be me, just a regular guy. Any semblance of “cool” is clearly seen as the facade that it is. (Side note on the pictures: If you want a pictorial history of classic emo from back in the day, simply look for shots taken by Sean Scallen. Go through your old emo records, if there’s a really great live photo, chances are it was taken by Sean Scallen.)
Want some advice, bands? Study Shotmaker. Listen to those bass-lines, notice the catharsis in the guitar playing, the sheer emotion yet almost infuriating restraint in the drumming, the raw desperation and power in the screams. Observe the truth in the music. If you don’t hear it, you shouldn’t be making music; otherwise shoot to attain even a semblance of it. Listen not only to what they are playing, but listen also to what they are not playing, to the traps they avoid. Go and do likewise.
If you need any more confirmation about the influence of Shotmaker, stay tuned for our interview with Swords’ Adam Goodwin in Issue #2 of Kindling, coming soon!