For all that’s been made about when rock ’n’ roll bandmate brothers don’t get along, not nearly enough is said when siblings are musically in sync.
Buffalo Killers singer-guitarist Andrew Gabbard says he and his singer-bassist brother, Zachary, don’t write songs together, yet when they present their respective material for the band to record, “it always seems like we’re on the same page.”
That was the case earlier this year when the Gabbards, guitarist Sven Kahns and drummer Joseph Sebaali recorded Fireball of Sulk (Sun Pedal Recordings), the second new Buffalo Killers collection of 2014.
“I had a couple of weird songs that I wasn’t sure about,” Andrew says, “and then my brother had a couple of songs that were super-weird, and it all just fit together.”
With Heavy Reverie, released in the spring, the Ohio-based Buffalo Killers “tried to make the songs really good and upbeat,” Andrew says. In making the recently released six-song Sulk, which like Reverie was tracked at Crushtone Studios in Cleveland, the band focused on what he calls “strange subject matter” and “taking things from dreams or vague lines from different things.”
“We feel like we don’t really have to be serious all the time,” Andrew adds. “We’re not trying to look into the message so much as having fun and not make someone ponder their life when they listen to our music — just [provide] cool visuals.”
Lyrically, Buffalo Killers waste no time getting weird on Fireball of Sulk. “Blankets on the Sun,” the opening song, begins with the puzzling, yet vivid lines “Step on my head and press it down/Chew on my bread that’s on the ground.” And either intentionally or coincidentally, that song’s second verse emphasizes the band’s overall not-so-serious approach to making Sulk: “Things that I like, to change the sound/Who cares if it’s good? Let’s f**k around.”
In terms of the music, Sulk features the more muscular band sound that emerged on 2013’s Ohio Grass and subsequently anchored Reverie. There are guitar riffs aplenty, plus the now-familiar mix of power pop and stoner-rock, along with shades of psychedelia. Sulk closes with “Something Else,” which finds Buffalo Killers successfully veering into Allman Brothers Band territory.
“We had a riff that we were playing at the end of the song,” Andrew says. “And on the fly, I just started playing something a few times, and Sven started harmonizing with it. That kind of stuff is really fun. We were a three piece for a long time, and now, having Sven, it really does open up the possibilities of having really cool dual guitar harmonies.
“That’s definitely a direction we’re going to [explore] because that kind of stuff is awesome. And that riff: It is somewhat Allman Bros.-esque, which is hard to stay away from when you’re doing dual guitar solos because they’re the kings of that. It does somewhat sound like that style, but we’re not gonna not do it because of that. You will probably hear that a lot more now that we have two guitar players.”
With a laugh, Andrew says his band, which has been quite prolific since 2011, has no other new recordings in the can outside of a few one-offs that will be coming out over the next few months. Meanwhile, the focus will be on “promoting Fireball and riding that out as long as we can” with weekend-warrior-style touring.
“We don’t have unrealistic goals,” he says. “My brother is more of the Buffalo Killers businessman. He keeps everything rolling, and we try and stay active and get to everywhere. We’re going to keep doing what we do as long as we can.
“For me and Zach, it’s just about creating. As long as somebody’s interested in helping us release albums, we’re going to keep doing it.”
— By Chris M. Junior
Buffalo Killers on tour (schedule subject to change):
* Dec. 12: Skully’s — Columbus, Ohio
* Dec. 13: Musica — Akron, Ohio
Buffalo Killers: Zachary Gabbard (standing); Andrew Gabbard, Sven Kahns and Joseph Sebaali (seated left to right). Photographed in March 2014 in Austin, Texas, by Chris M. Junior.