Big John Bates
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Big John Bates

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada | Established. Jan 01, 2010 | INDIE | AFM

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada | INDIE | AFM
Established on Jan, 2010
Band Rock Gothic




"Headless Fowl"

“Amerkin” could please the postrock crowd as much as the group’s devoted fans. "Wide Open Blues” blends doom-wop piano plinks and down-South accordion runs into a jumped-up swamp stomp. Upright bassist Brandy Bones mans the mike on the back-porch ballad “Taste the Barrel”, joining Bates to deliver the rootsy punk number “Fields on Fire”. The latter’s high point, however, isn’t the sweet-versus-sour vocal interplay, but a scorching, off-the-rails solo. It’s the audio equivalent of seeing that last sputter of crimson pump out of a hen’s gaping neck wound before it flops to the ground and dies." - Georgia Straight (May 2012)

"Canadian Music Fest 2012"

"Big John Bates has moved to dark roots rock as evidenced by their opening song “Amerkin”, a track with a soul-shaking beat. And while the music may have changed, the intensity and fervour of this band’s live performance has not. Bones shines in all her sultry, gothic temptress glory. She is the true master of her massive bass, using it as not only a tool to make music but as an instrument of seduction. “Taste the Barrel” showcased Bones’ eerily whispery vocals, accompanied by Bates’ banjo sounding guitar, giving the song a true dark country feel. Fans lined up outside didn’t know what they were missing, and if they did, they were all the sadder for it. - Music Examiner

"Halifax Pop Explosion 2012"

Style: Gothic/Southern/Hard Rock. All fucking epic.

Technicalities: Set started a little late do to some sound issues. The mic stands were adorned with animal skulls. The vocal duo of Brandy and John was intricate, and they shared the duties well. The technical skill overall was incredibly. JT Massacre on drums was impeccable.
Memorable Moment: Straight up, this was one of the best lives sets I have ever seen. Every time something awesome happened, it would get one-upped by something even more insane or awesome. There were blood curdling screams on the reg and numerous whole band instrumental solos that would melt your face off. During one such solo, JT Massacre played the drums standing up, he was beating them so hard. On two separate occasions, John first, and then Brandy, went for a stroll through the crowd and ended up playing atop the bar, much to the amusement of the tender. Brandy also performed balancing acts on her cello verging on yoga throughout the set. At another instance, John fed the the rest of the band members a shot while they played. They even tossed t-shirts to the crowd. It was an “anything goes” show. Every second was a memorable moment. I dreamt about it that night.

Sex Appeal: Stage drinking–and sharing!

Memorable Song: “Dig Yourself a Hole”. This was the tune where John held an expedition to the bar to play atop it and retrieve from beverages for his mates. It featured an incredible instrumental performance.
Comments: Blew my face off. Such a sick combination of gritty riffs, interesting vocal arrangements, and stage presence. The definition of “putting on a show”. - Scene Magazine

"Exclaim Magazine"

”Vancouver’s rustic noir rockers – known for their ability to combine the dark and twang elements with intense bass.” - Album Reviews

"Jello Biafra"

“Headless Fowl is extremely cool” - Self

"Headless Fowl"

Headless Fowl spins a dark musical tale evident from the opening climactic instrumental, titled "Amerkin." Vancouver's Big John Bates coils deep into the thicket of primitive blues punk and turns away from the footlights of familiar revue. This album uncovers an earthy set of stories and music guided by the root work of Americana, blues, and rock ‘n’ roll. Working with raw potency, this three piece features Big John Bates on his Gretsch, Brandy Bone on an upright Hofner bass and Bill Dozer (live) and Tim Hagberg (in studio) on percussion. Headless Fowl was mixed by Robert Ferbrache, also known for his work with 16 Horsepower and Slim Cessna.

A drop of this elixir dares you to embrace the lure of these haunted numbers. Peddling directly off the stage, infused by relentless touring, each song unfolds from its case as the stowaway spectres make their way through the hands of these practitioners. Prepare for a spared-down dramatic cure. This may prove to be a creative revival for this group of skilled players and guarantees what the deepest reverence cannot fulfill. - Beatroute Magazine (May 2012)


The Headless Fowl LP - digital (2013) Frontman Records
Battered Bones - CD / 12" LP (2012) Rookie Records - EU Release
Headless Fowl - CD / 12" EP (2012) Frontman Records / Alternative Tentacles - North American Release
Scarecrow Close - 7" Single (2010) Rookie Records



Blood and swill, whiskey and knives, Big John Bates one of Vancouvers most notorious musicians (Globe & Mail) knows how to set the mood for trouble. The music is backwoods punk with a sinister edge but there is more, so much more, going on in the crazy collective conscious that is Big John Bates. Both sing, and both couldnt be more different. Big John Bates raspy growl more or less spits in your face while Bones muddy contralto drowns her subject matter in woe. Both are righteous accompaniments to the music while JT Massacre keep things riotous on percussion. The Equal Ground

In 2011, Bates & Bones hit Jello Biafras (Dead Kennedys) radar and, while BJB was touring North America with Kickstarter darlings Murder By Death, Alternative Tentacles began supporting the 2012 EP Headless Fowl. Bates quickly followed that with the LP Battered Bones on Germanys Rookie Records, which also brought them to Quentin Tarantinos attention while he was scouting music for Django Unchained.

Bates is known for enigmatic and energetic live performances, often employing power tools while playing offstage and in the audience. This band has a thousand live shows under their belt and shows it, every second is pure performance. They also released two western-themed YouTube videos (Amerkin & Taste the Barrel) with Hora Morior and followed up with Break the Ghost a live video culled from their 2012 World Tour. Big John Bates is one of a few groups able to successfully mix southern gothic style with rocknroll attitude.


Other artists Bates has performed with include Murder By Death, the Blasters, Slim Cessnas Auto Club, the Supersuckers, the Belrays, th Legendary Shack Shakers, Dex Romweber and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. Bates has been a featured act at festivals worldwide including Ink & Iron Festival (US), Ribs & Blues (NE), Big Time Out (CA), 3 x Shambhala (CA), Stemwede (DE), Halifax Pop Explosion, (CA), Canadian Music Week (CA), Sjock Festival (BE). Bates has also been featured on Battlestar Galactica, A&E; Discovery Channel; Bizarre Magazine; Tattooage Magazine among dozens of others while their songs have been in scores of movies and TV shows from Germany, France, Canada and the USA.

For a digital review copy of The Headless Fowl email: tony at

Band Members