There’s just one place Dave Gowans, lead singer-songwriter for Vancouver’s Buttless Chaps, considers “gothic country”: Burns Lake.
That tiny logging town in central-north B.C. contains the same blend of contemplation and spookiness as the Chaps’ 2006 album, Where Night Holds Light.
“Burns Lake definitely has that gothic vibe,” Gowans said. “(When recording) we would get up, have breakfast, play music, maybe go out for a walk — it was like a holiday for a couple of weeks.”
Now working on a new disc in a Vancouver studio, far from the quiet of rural B.C., Gowans said the group’s music has taken on a different tone altogether — a heavier one — that might be due to an environment where everyone squeezes in practice after work from 9 to 12 at night. “Everyone’s playing a little bolder and louder — it’s sort of a mid-life crisis for the band,” Gowans said, laughing. “The environment might have something to do with it … it seems a bit harder working in the city, harder to get into that headspace of writing, though we’re writing songs that are a little more upbeat.”
Asked to define the quintessential Buttless Chaps song was a tough proposition, given their sound has changed a lot since early rootsy experiments in banjo-twangs and the synthy dirges of Joy Division and Echo And The Bunnymen (whose The Killing Moon the band covers).
But nonetheless, Gowans felt they hit one such track during a recent practice when they played Testing 1, 2, 3. He said it captured where the band is at now, even though the song was written in 1996.
“(Testing 1, 2, 3) is kind of an anchor song for us — it shows where we were going musically at that time,” he said. “Some songs on the new album have elements of that same music within them.”
Chaps go gothic
There’s just one place Dave Gowans, lead singer-songwriter forVancouver’s Buttless Chaps, considers “gothic country”: Burns Lake.