I Saw: Conan with The Weir, Culled, and Highbernation

By Jacob Burgess


Hello there fellow Concordia University students! I decided to take a break from writing philosophy articles and try my hands at another type of column. This one is dedicated to local live music shows! On February 10th, I saw a series of crushing local Edmonton bands, as well as one from Calgary and one from the U.K. First up was stoner metal band Highbernation, a relatively new band on the scene with my friend Raine Gingras on the bass. Raine was kind enough to put me on the guest list, so I got in for free (thanks Raine!). If you’ve never heard of stoner metal before, it’s typically characterized by gut-rumblingly heavy guitars, sluggishly slow tempos, and often psychedelically-themed lyrics. Stoner metal bands tend to take their influence from bands like Black Sabbath, Sleep, Electric Wizard, Sunn O))), etc. If this sounds like something that might interest you, I would suggest listening to either Funeralopolis by Electric Wizard or Dragonaught by Sleep. These are great places to start. Next up was Culled, a Grindcore band from right here in Edmonton. This was Culled’s first live performance, and I have to say they put on one hell of a show. Gridcore is quite different from stoner metal, it typically has really short songs (1-2 minutes long) with really messy guitars and disgusting vocals. They were pretty awesome. After Culled was The Weir, a doom/sludge band from Calgary, Alberta. The Weir was somehow even slower and heavier than Highbernation, with the bass player and two guitar players doing intensely low growls along with their crushing guitar riffs. To end the show was the legendary doom metal band Conan. Conan hails from Liverpool, England (birthplace of the Beatles!) and they have been described as “caveman battle doom”, a title they have most certainly earned. I was fortunate enough to interview both Matt Riske (vocals, guitar) and Raine Gingras (bass) from Highbernation before the show. Here’s how it went!         


Q: What are your major musical influences?


Matt: For myself I would say Sleep, Electric Wizard, uhh, Elvis? Haha. I know that sounds a little weird but, little bit of Elvis. Raine what about you man?


Raine: Well, I’m a little bit all over the board, but definitely Death, uh, Intronaught, those are definitely bands I listen to for the bass, and Pallbearer. Those are probably the bands I’d pick right now.


Q: How long have you been playing together as a band?


Matt: The three of us, you (Raine), me, and Mallory (drummer for Highbernation) have been playing together for like a year? But Malory and I have been playing music for like seven years. And uh, we had a band named Bud Morrison beforehand, and same kind of deal with a different bass player, but then we changed it to Highbernation like five years ago and went on hiatus, and then we found Raine when I moved to Edmonton and the rest is history.


Q: How old were you when you first picked up an instrument?


Matt: I was uh, twelve? Yeah man I was twelve when I first picked up the guitar. I started doing vocals when I was sixteen or so.


Raine: I started playing when I was fifteen. And it was bass. I just did it to impress Merissa (Raine’s girlfriend).


Q: When did you start writing your own music?


Matt: When I was about fourteen.


Raine: Probably when I was like sixteen?


Q: What themes do you like to explore lyrically?


Matt: Uh, weed, satan, sodomy, just kidding haha. Lots of weed and satan, and I dunno a little bit of life experience mixed in there in a dark and twisted kind of way. It’s all kind of dark and twisted.


Q: How often do you have band practices?


Matt: Couple times a week. If we can. It’s the best we can do; Raine works out of town sometimes.


Q: What have you been listening to lately?


Raine: Pallbearer. I always listen to a lot of Death.


Matt: Conan, been listening to a lot of Conan lately, surprisingly. Uh, King Woman, I’ve definitely been listening to quite a bit of Royal Thunder.  


Q: Do you think you could pick a favorite musician of all time?


Matt: Um, I don’t know man. Maybe Al Cisneros form Sleep, his bass just makes me shit my pants.


Me: Do you like Om?


Matt: Oh my God Om is incredible. He just diddles it so good with his Rickenbacker–it’s just, it’s unreal, man.


Raine: Probably Chuck Schuldiner (Lead guitar and vocals for Death. RIP). Or David Gold from Woods of Ypres. He’s dead too.


Q: Do you have any other hobbies besides music?


Matt: I’m a personal trainer. And a nutritionist, so it’s kind of the polar opposite of what you might think I do as a job, but, that’s what I do.


Raine: I’m a personal eater.


Q: How many live shows have you played together?


Matt: This will be number six eh? Maybe five. This is probably number five actually.


Raine: Second big show though.


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