They’re prairie boys on a simple mission – they want to rock.
Formed in Edmonton in 2008, Rattlesnake Romeo is now based in Saskatchewan and the four-piece is out on the road, playing what they’ve dubbed Dirt Rock – guitar-fueled rock with big, earthy vocals.
Rattlesnake Romeo is Justin McLeod (vocals, guitar), Drew Bilboe (guitar), Kevin Adair (bass) and Kurtis Kopp (drums). They roll into Banff to play Wild Bill’s, Jan. 7-8.
With their first album under their belt (the 13-track Simply and Amplify) and penning new tunes as they work toward another offering, the band is looking to build a fan base based on their raw, high-energy live show.
Band members are scattered around, from Regina to Humboldt to North Battleford and Athabaska, AB, “but we’re based in Saskatchewan now,” said Kopp. “Our rehearsal space is in Saskatchewan and this is where it all happens.”
The band’s influences range from blues to funk and country, but rock is where the heart is. And, like a faithful tractor, band members chip in with all the heavy lifting, from writing songs to booking tours to hauling equipment. All have played in other bands.
“We’re pretty much ready for album two,” said Kopp. “We hope to get it out sometime in the New Year. We’ve got permission to do a cover of Men Without Hats’ “Pop goes the World”, but we do it in a ska/punk version and it’s gone over very well.”
With Simplify and Amplify, the band put together songs about love, hate, fear and courage. The new album will feature another 13 tracks, once they’ve been narrowed down from the crop the band is currently tending.
Part of the reason for the present tour is to put new songs in front of audiences and see how things shake out. For the most part, McLeod brings in the majority of song ideas, said Kopp, “then he brings them to the band. By the time they get through all of us, it usually ends up quite different.
“And we’re all songwriters, so we have a lot of diversity. At times we sound like the blues, then ska that catches everyone off guard. We’re like a tractor; versatile.”
For the most part, Rattlesnake Romeo has kept their touring close to home, in Saskatchewan and Alberta, but on this tour, they’re making their way to the West Coast, which includes a pair of gigs opening for prairie boys Wide Mouth Mason at Vancouver’s The Yale.
“At some point,” said Kopp, “we want to conquer the whole damn country, but it’s baby steps or fall over right now.”
Presently, the band is booked every weekend and is playing 100 to 150 shows a year as an indie band.
“We’re doing the best we can,” said Kopp. “We want this thing to be our full-time deal at some point. And we’re looking forward to playing places like Banff, and places we haven’t played before, like Fernie.
“It’s all about high-energy rock and getting out there in front of people.”
On Simply and Amplify, the band worked with some top Canadian producers and musicians. They recorded in two of Canada’s leading production facilities - Sound Extractors with close band friend Stew Kirkwood who also played some tracks for them and at Greenhouse in Vancouver, with Jay Evan of JMP Productions. At Greenhouse they recorded some tracks with Pat Stewart from the Odds and Bryan Adams, and also Dennis Marchenko of Colin James and K.D Lang.