ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, OCT. 4, 1990
By Steve Newton
Some rock critics will go to any lengths to describe the sound of a band as diverse as Montreal’s Bootsauce. Take Mike Marrone of the Hard Report, who came up with this hearty interpretation: “Captain Beefheart meets The The on Shriekback street beauty.”
“Holy smokes!” says Bootsauce guitarist/co-founder Sonny Greenwich Jr. “That guy’s workin’ overtime! I think the simplest description would be a cross between the Chilis and Fishbone—sort of the same attitude. Although we don’t sound like either of those bands, that’s the closest thing.”
Greenwich knows of which he speaks. While Bootsauce is a band that borrows heavily from a vast array of influences, it still comes up with a funky, hard-edged musical brew that is hard to pin down. The comparisons to the Red Hot Chili Peppers keep coming, nonetheless.
“Yeah,” admits Greenwich, “except we have a better bass player, you know. Baculis—the man, the legend.”
Vancouver fans will have the opportunity to see just how hot Bootsauce and the bass god really are when the band plays 86 Street this weekend (October 5 and 6), opening for the Pursuit of Happiness. They’ll be showcasing tunes from The Brown Album, their debut on Vertigo Records, which MEAT magazine says is “halfway between the Beatles’ White Album and Prince’s Black Album”.
“The record’s got something for everyone,” says Greenwich. “It’s a fun thing. If you hate dance stuff then it’s got hippie shit, and if you hate hippie shit there’s rock.”
At 16, Greenwich got his first guitar as a birthday gift from his pop, jazz guitar visionary Sonny Sr., an underground legend acclaimed as a peer by the likes of John Coltrane, Miles Davis, and Wayne Shorter. The nucleus of Bootsauce was formed only a few years later, when Greenwich Jr. met singer Drew Ling at a friend’s Christmas party in 1988.
“They had a sampler there and I happened to have a four-track for the weekend, so I said, ‘Well listen, why don’t I bring the four-track over and we’ll just get to making some noise here, guys.’ And the first night we got together we wrote ‘Sex Marine’, which is actually on the album. That was a pretty wild night, after four or five thousand beers.”
As you can probably tell, Bootsauce isn’t the sort of band to preach about serious topics, whether they be the dangers of brewski overload or the state of the environment. They leave that sort of thing to other bands.
“When you’re playing in a club, you don’t want to be telling people having fun and drinking beer that they shouldn’t be polluting or they shouldn’t be doing whatever. That’s just garbage, and it’s not my place to say anything about that. I mean some people actually have something to say, but personally I think my business is my business, and what I do support I’ll support whether or not I have to talk about it.”
That doesn’t mean that you can’t read things into the band’s lyrics, of course. Like on “Payment Time”, which can quite easily be seen as an indictment of the racism that Natives face. In the wake of recent developments in Quebec, the tune is pretty effective: “A people’s need to survive, a race that’s run aground/Holed up in your head ’cause that’s all you’ve found/Just take all you can, take all you need/As you stab my back and you hear me scream.”
“That song was actually written about American Indians and also the Aboriginal tribes in Australia,” says Greenwich. “But ‘Payment Time’ could be taken however you want. We don’t like to be too serious politically or anything in that way—this band is actually more about having fun.”
If there’s one tune on The Brown Album that is indicative of the Bootsauce view of things, it would have to be the cover of Hot Chocolate’s ’70s disco hit, “Everyone’s a Winner”.
“That’s basically the band’s philosophy,” says Greenwich. “Believe in the good things, and that’s it.”