Since their first live performance, Vancouver based band Astrakhan has wowed many a music fan. Whether it’s a booking agent at the local theatre, a grizzled music industry veteran, or a 17 year old riff worshipping hesher child, praise for the band has been deservedly widespread.
The band formed from two respected Vancouver bands Old Roger and Crimson Root. After one unforgettable performance at the 2015 Armstrong Metal Fest, the band signed to War On Music Records to release their debut EP “A Tapestry of Scars and Scabs.” I got a chance to speak with Astrakhan’s bassist Dustin Toth about the band.
Your last ep “A Tapestry of Scabs and Skin” was released by War On Music records (3 Inches of Blood, Anciients, Bison, Cryptopsy, Gorguts). That’s a pretty stacked roster to say the least. What was it like to work with them?
Getting the nod from Charley at War on Music was a pretty big deal for us. Being able to list ourselves amongst some of our favourite bands and biggest influences is a great feeling. Not to mention that Charley’s band Wilt rules. We got to hang out with him at last years Armstrong Metal Fest and work out the details of our record release over some shotgunned beers while two dudes fought with beer can wizard staffs over a dirt covered hot dog. It’s the only way to do business.
You’re about to record your first full length record at the Greenhouse with Jesse Gander (Tranzmitors, White Lung, Japandroids) What progressions have you noticed with your newer music?
I think the new songs feature a more collaborative style of writing between the four of us. We waited a long time to do a full length because we wanted to be sure that it would be fucking rad… and it is. Lots of psychedelia, lots of skanky riffs, lots of Eagles-esque vocal harmony.
I frequently see your home city of Vancouver mentioned as arguably the best aggressive music community in Canada. Why do you think this area is such a thriving place for heavy music?
Vancouver is the Hollywood of Canada. People come from all over to the “big city” to “make it” as an artist, actor or musician. Most fail and are disappointed and down. What better way to deal with it than by writing heavy riffs and doing drugs? Sometimes the druggie riffers meet talented musicians and start bands. It usually doesn’t work but when it does, shit, it just does.
Aside from vinyl, music sold in a physical form is inching closer and closer to extinction, what do you think about this? Aside from playing live how does a band make money these days?
You don’t really. Not in this genre anyways. That’s why you see bands like Mastodon, who sell out arenas, hawking their records and guitars on Ebay and selling guitar lessons on tour. No one is going to be driving Bentleys into pools these days but if you can make enough to buy new strings, a pack of pepperoni and enough gas to get to the next show you’re doing alright.
You guys did a set opening up for Aaron Turner’s band Sumac at Sled Island this year. What was that like?
We are all huge ISIS fans so it was awesome to be able to meet Aaron and play with Sumac as well as Calgary locals The Weir. Both bands destroyed their sets and the vibe in the venue was ultimate stoke.
If you could play with any band, defunct or active, who would you choose and why?
Pallbearer is the best band around right now in my opinion. It would kill to open for them. If I had to choose any band from any time I would have to say Fleetwood Mac with young Stevie Nicks. Duh.