Joey Only set to bring the outlaw out on the road
The outlaw in the Joey Only Outlaw Band, who return to Lethbridge Monday, June 21 to play the Slice, isn’t anything to laugh at.
While frontman Joey Only as well as band mates Rowan Lipkovits, drummer Kenan Sungur, steel guitarist Mike Zinger, lead guitarist Steve Loree, upright bassist Justine Fischer and backup singer Leah Martin, would rather travel the country bringing Canadians the music inspired by their own country, Only isn’t afraid to throw down if the situation demands it.
“ We’re armed to do battle, sometimes quite literally,” said Joey Only over the phone from Vancouver, relating a story about a time, not too long ago, in Fort St. James when a ‘drunken maniac’ attacked him for no reason.
“I was just standing by the fire minding my own business when he called me rock star and started hitting me. I went off on him like I haven’t on anybody since high school. I was a bit swollen in the knuckles and swollen in the face, but he was a lot worse after it,” Only related matter of factly.
“People usually respect you when you drive all the way to their community to play them music, but when you drive 100,000 km, you’re bound to have an accident. I’ve been playing bars for 10 years. When you go to 500 bars, you’ll run into drunken maniacs. We’re not just saying we’re outlaw,” he said adding a stiff touring schedule is starting to pay off for the band.
Their latest CD ‘Transgression Trail’ is starting to chart well on Earshot, placing 44th overall nationally in all genres and third in folk/roots ahead of Hank III, but just below Fred Eaglesmith, another consummate road warrior. They are eighth in Lethbridge thanks to airplay on CKXU, 88.3 FM.
“The CD has only been out for two and a half weeks. And now we have to go out and play 50 shows in a row starting Thursday, so we have that momentum to build on,” he said.
“It’s a great record. The mix and recording of the songs has been great. The songs are the way I envisioned them. But it’s the high quality that really makes me happy. Before we were recording in basements,” he said adding previously they had to record where ever and when ever they could and he wasn’t too happy with the results, though that has changed with Steve Loree behind the recording console.
Constant traveling has lead to a couple gigs with Fred Eaglesmith himself.
“We’re not actually touring with him, our paths just keep crossing. The first time was last year during the Calgary Stampede last year at the Palomino. It was very cool. He’s a great songwriter. In Olds, we booked into the place and the guy e-mailed us and asked if it was okay if Fred Eaglesmith played as well. We thought about it and said ‘sure,’” he continued.
“We’ve played with so many great bands. It’s an honour and it’s exciting because you learn so much from them,” he continued adding they have a lot to look forward to this year. They were given a choice to take part in the Brandon Folk Festival’s mentorship program with either Billy Bragg next year or Buffy St. Marie this year.
“We’re local all the way. She’s a beautiful woman,” Only enthused, praising her for not having concentrated on trying to make it in the U.S.
“Stompin’ Tom Connors was good that way too. Canada is country. Whether you like country music or not. People like to hear songs about their own country,” he said adding he is looking forward to Monday’s show at the Slice.
“We come to play. We’re not the type of band who plays, then takes a half hour break then play, then another half hour break. That’s how big bands become so big. You’ll never see Rush take a half hour break and then play. As long as there’s beer on stage, we’ll play a four hour show,” he said.
“ We just like to perform. We play hard and we play a lot. We don’t do a lot of covers, when we do, we won’t play Johnny Cash, we’ll play a Tim Hus cover,” he continued.
“There will be a lot of songs and a of of stories,” he said.