Thursday, April 19, 2007

Cincinnati's Buffalo Killers: At Home on the Range

When you hear Cincinnati's Buffalo Killers for the first time, you sort of sit back and say, "Yes."
Over the past year the band has taken Neil Young-ish rock, retro vocal harmonies, heaping amounts of wild guitar solos, a ton of balls, and created something uniquely Midwestern. I place them among fellow like-minded heavyweights such as My Morning Jacket, Kings of Leon or Dinosaur Jr. Dare I say, the Buffalo Killers may single-handedly bring back the wah wah pedal - which is just as much scary as it is interesting.
The band's CD is out now on Alive Records and can be purchased through Alive at or at the Bomp Store
Since the release, the Buffalo Killers have taken to the road in a serious way. The traveling and heart they put into their music has certainly helped them grow. But more importantly it is their truly Midwestern work ethic, which has taken them to the next level. As we speak, they are on their way out west to California and back. I've even been hearing plans for a European tour. I recommend getting to know the band now, because it's going to be few and far between before they are able to frequent your favorite local venues.
Just your luck, the Buffalo Killers are performing this Thursday (April 19) at The Union in Athens, OH. for the Blackout Festival.
I originally hoped to get this article out on Wednesday, well before the show. I even had it written. It was done. In fact, it ended up being one of the most well-done pieces of rock review I've done in quite some time. Then the Internet died and I lost the whole thing. Typical. But when you are faced with the loss of something, you gotta pick up the pieces and move on.
So I knew the Buffalo Killers was made up of Andrew Gabbard on guitar and brother Zachary Gabbard on bass and drummer Joseph Sebaali. I knew they were formed out of the ashes of their former band Thee Shams, which disbanded in 2005.
What I didn't know is that it took just one year for these guys to completely reformulate, discovered its own sound, write and record an entire album and then tour all over the country. That type of momentum can take lesser bands years to achieve.
Zach Gabbard recently explained the process of writing the CD.
"We never set out for any sound besides something that rocks, moves and feels. We went to the barn, started working on songs for a few months and the result of those sessions are on the album," he said. "I guess our music stands out because it is real. We all love what we do and try to do it the best we can."
Part of the scope of People With Animal Heads is to show up and coming underground bands the best paths to go in their quest to make music and offer them advice from their contemporaries. When it comes to touring, things always get tricky.
Gabbard explained that it's all about focus.
"The band is our job. When I'm home from tour, I'm working, when I'm on the road, I'm working. It is the job you can't escape... it is with you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It is as exhausting as running any business would be," Gabbard said. "I think the biggest mistake most bands make is they run their band like a hobby and if that's what it is, then you don't need to spend as much time with it, but if you want to make it all work, it has to be your job - that, and have plenty of merchandise to sell on the road."
To succeed in this, most successful bands use the help of their label or a booking agent. In the case of the Buffalo Killers, they are in the right hands with Scott Winland who runs Blackout Booking.
"Scott is a long time really good friend of ours and he does our booking," Gabbard said. "Sometimes we will line up shows for ourselves, but the majority of the booking is handled by Scott. I guess the best booking tip I could offer would be to really get to know and play with the other bands in the towns you are traveling to. We have a lot of great friends all over the country and we couldn't do it without them."
But it is the passion that Buffalo Killers extend to their craft that make them a great example for other Midwestern bands.
"The best thing about being a band from the Midwest vs. west coast or east coast is the touring. You can build some pretty impressive long weekend tours centering around major cities and only suffer at most a 12 hour drive. This allows us to do two- week west coast tours vs. month long tours. If you want to keep a band together, you want to avoid month long tours," Gabbard said. "We are influenced by many things, bands, people, location, etc. We’re lucky that we grew up in an area that has a rich musical history. The Midwest sound is a melting pot of the regions that surround it and we’d prefer it no other way."

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