The Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer
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The Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada | Established. Jan 01, 2007 | INDIE

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2007
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"The Harpoonist & the Axe Murderer take the traditional route on Checkered Past"

The Harpoonist & the Axe Murderer are hardly the first white kids to stumble onto the idea of stripping the blues down to basics as a two-piece. If you haven’t heard of the Soledad Brothers, perhaps the names the White Stripes and the Black Keys might set off an alarm bell.

Where Shawn Hall and Matthew Rogers differ from the industry blueprint on Checkered Past is that they actually sound like they might have been to the Mississippi Delta. Or at least sat down and listened to a Robert Johnson boxed set from start to finish. The first thing you notice on the emotive opener, “Shake It”, is that these guys come off as traditionalists with no desire to fix something that ain’t broken.

The multi-instrumentalist blues brothers aren’t completely living in a world of dirt-floor shacks and bathtub gin mills, though; there’s a faint radio-friendly sheen to tracks like “Roll With the Punches”. Still, purists will find plenty to crack a bottle of Jim Beam to, whether it be the mournful thumper “Are You Listening Lord?”, the organ-shimmered “Too Late Virginia”, or the slide-fortified “Can’t Judge a Book”.

Additional props go to Hall and Rogers not only for playing all the instruments here (including some mean harp), but for managing to sound much larger than a duo. And while we’re handing out compliments, is the Harpoonist & the Axe Murderer seriously not the greatest band name ever, even if it sounds more like the title of a pulp-fiction short story than a blues band? - The Georgia Straight


"Checkered Past perfect calling card for The Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer"

IF The Harpoonist hadn't loved the taste of Jamaican Pizza Jerk, he may have never met the Axe Murderer.

Satiated by curry goat and the diced broccoli slices offered by the Commercial Drive pizzeria, singer and harmonica player Shawn Hall pledged to help the restaurant.

"I don't know why he wanted to do this, but he loves Jamaican food and he walked into the restaurant and said, 'I'm going to record a jingle for you guys,'" Matthew Rogers remembers. "I think he was trying to break his way into the jingle business."

The proprietors were befuddled but Hall took his appetite and enthusiasm into a recording studio anyway.

The jingle needed a reggae guitar and as luck would have it, Rogers got the call.

Over four or five years, the two played in several bands before deciding to start their own blues duo, The Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer.

The group is currently preparing for an Aug. 26 show in Squamish.

Taking their name from the Kris Kristofferson song (harpoonist for Hall's harmonica and axe murderer for Rogers' guitar), the duo are attempting to give a voice to their own experience while carrying on the tradition of the heavy riffs and sex-steeped soul at the core of the bluesbased rock of the last halfcentury.

With similar musical tastes, Rogers and Hall became friends collaborating on numerous projects. Rogers added bass lines to Corduroy Kid, Hall's electro-soul group, and they each ended up in a band with Rogers' brother.

In one of their more ignominious moments, the duo took a studio job dictating a Spanish language computer manual.

"It was probably the most horrible gig that either of us had done. I speak a tiny bit of Spanish and Shawn speaks no Spanish," Rogers says.

After recording the instructions and surviving, it was clear the two musicians got along.

"Personality-wise, we knew that it would work," Rogers says.

Asked how he knew Hall was someone he could be in a band with and not want to strangle, Rogers laughs.

"Sometimes I do want to strangle him, but he's just a very kind-hearted, giving person. We're probably two of the most opposite people you could find. I'm very ordered, I'm the one who keeps things on time . . . Shawn's very notstructured but he has a very intuitive feel about what he does."

The group is bonded by the differences in their musical tastes.

"Having him as a musical friend opened up my world to all these artists I hadn't listened to," Rogers says, detailing Hall's love for funk and soul music. "We bonded over just hearing things that the other hadn't heard."

The Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer is currently touring in support of their third album, Checkered Past.

"In particular Shawn, but myself as well, had gone through some tough times in our past," Rogers says, talking about the breakups and addiction that weave their way through the album. "We had a really positive, good drive up to Banff and we kind of decided, 'Those are things that are being left behind for us.'"

Musically, the album is slightly more polished than their previous work.

"We wanted to spend a bit more time producing it," Rogers says. "We felt we had some cross-over potential to be a blues band that is on radio. We spent a lot of time listening to old blues stuff but we also listened to a lot of the guys who are bringing the blues back like The Black Keys and The White Stripes."

Their music has been favourably compared to those bands, but the duo's sound is fuller and heavier than many of their contemporaries. The group also produces a groove that makes some songs, like album-closer "Burning Bridges," sound faster than they are.

The Led Zeppelin style is readily apparent in their sound, and by default the band owes a great debt to American blues songwriter Willie Dixon.

"Led Zeppelin IV was the first tape I ever bought and that was a huge influence for me that really sparked the creative energy and caused me to really want to start playing music in general," Rogers explains. "I grew up listening to a lot of my parents' records, just because I had no money and that's what was around. So a lot of old blues recordings like B.B. Kings, and Albert King, all the Kings."

Dixon provided songs for Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters, Etta James, and a myriad of artists who were drawn to the power and humour of his version of Chicago blues.

"Someone at our last show, was like, 'Hey, I was watching your set. Great set, but I realized you guys played like six Willie Dixon songs in a row,'" Rogers says.

Checkered Past includes the group's cover of "Mellow Down Easy," a blues track made famous by Little Walter and written by Dixon.

The muscular blues sound inspires the physical nature of the group's live performances.

"I've developed a whole new set of muscles in my legs that I didn't think I had. . . . We occasionally need to play three sets a night and we just feel battered, but I think that's also what we like about it is the physical aspect. We can't go into any show halfassed."

Talking about the show, Rogers is fairly removed from the wildness of their concerts.

"Right now Shawn's playing badminton with his one-and-a-half-year-old. My family's still asleep. I'm just drinking coffee chatting with you," he says.

With Rogers and Hall raising young children, recording has become a little complicated.

"Finding the time where it's just Shawn and I together able to work on tunes has been a bit of a challenge," Rogers says. "Hopefully, within the next year we'll be recording again."

Discussing the band's summer tour with the North Shore News, Rogers says each interview invariably begins with an explanation of the name. The violence of their sobriquet can sometimes be misleading, attracting a few young men in black T-shirts looking for a sound worthy of headbanging. But whatever the reasons for coming to the concert, Rogers is happy to win people over to their sound.

"We haven't had any metalheads come to our show that have left disappointed," he says, discussing the group's energy and drive. "I think that's what's been resonating with people, too, is that we're just two people just giving it as much as we can."

jshepherd@nsnews.com - The Northshore News


"The Cobalt hosts a 3 band Barrage"

The Harpoonist and The Axe Murderer play blues music. Sure, other influences are evident, but, more than anything, the music oozes with raw blues rhythms. The duo of Shawn “The Harpoonist” Hall and Matthew “The Axe Murderer” Rogers, create a dynamic sound for just two dudes. Hall’s vocal delivery sways with a desperation that seems to grumble up from his gut while mixing in blasts of harmonica. Rogers provides the repeating, toe-tapping rhythms on guitar and a foot-powered percussion set up that gives the two-man band a fuller sound. A mix of modern blues associated with bands like the Black Keys and the traditional sounds that came up out of the South with legends like Muddy Waters, The Harpoonist and The Axe Murder display an adept ability to play what the band’s facebook page describes as “blues that gets ya in the crotch.” - The Province


"Peak Performance Showcase #2"

The Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer: The duo of Shawn Hall and Matthew Rogers started it off with their dirty blues sound, Hall on vocals and harmonica and Rogers on guitar and kick drum. They had a very high energy and everything that did came across with an effortless charm, both playing and the banter between the two. They had the same swampy blues sound through the whole set, but it never got stale, with songs like "Love Me Before You Leave Me", which built to a frantic and explosive ending, and it helped that they were joined by a trio of ladies, including Hilary Grist and Hannah Epperson, for backup vocals part way through. For their Canadian cover they went with one my my favourite Canadian bands, Big Sugar and thier song "Turn The Lights On" -- a great version, if a bit of a predictable choice for the blues duo -- and they ended with another explosive song, "Got My Mojo Working".
They were really fun to watch live, and so far they're my favourite new discovery from this year's Project. - 3 AM Revelations


"Ending out Live at Squamish with a Head Bang"

Char: Every time I see this band I am blown away because this duo knows how to sing the blues! Armed solely with a bag packed full of harmonicas, a slew of pedal operated percussion, and a guitar, Shawn Hall and Matt Rogers make blues rock that should not be possible with only two men. Needless to say they had the entire field enchanted. This is a duo you need to catch live, and a birdie told me they are playing the Red Room as a part of the Peak Performance Project next month. Make sure to check it out! - The Province


"Peak Performance Showcase #2"

The Harpoonist and The Axe Murderer

Jess: As the only blues band in the competition, these guys had to rock hard and they certainly did. About halfway through the set they introduced the 3 lovely ladies Hannah Epperson, Hilary Grist and Chelsea Burden’s as their sassy backup girls. Add the hip swings, some trumpet, and a whole lot of grit and their die-hard fans at the front and we had a party going on. As always, Shawn Hall and Matt Roger’s multi-instrumentation was incredibly impressive, they hit the bar for talent and style as high as it could get right off the bat.

Char: Going to a HAM show is like getting punched in the gut musically. Good thing they started their set off with “Roll With The Punches”. Their set was easily one of my favourites of the evening, especially with the rare addition of Grist, Epperson and Burden backing up the band with some hilarious attitude that is uncharacteristic of the ladies. Their Canadian cover was of Big Sugar’s “Turn a Light On”, which they nailed. HAM ended off their set with a catchy singalong “Got my Mojo Working” which ended a phenomenal showcase, and left the crowd screaming for an encore. - Vancouver music review


"Hunting the Blues Whale"

The scream of a harmonica really gets me going.

A rustic and wild soul lives inside every mouth harp, which is something they are sometimes called. They’re also sometimes called “harpoons”, which is pretty cool, and makes sense; the sound of a harmonica is kind of like the call of a whale after it’s been filtered through that thick mustache of baleen.

So I guess the “Harpoonist” then, is Shawn Hall, the harmonica slinger and whiskeyed singer of two-piece blues group, The Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer.

So that leaves the “Axe Murderer”, who isn’t actually as scary as he sounds. It’s actually just Matthew Rogers, and he’s just a bit misunderstood. See, he murders axes – axes like his guitar, and he does so lovingly. He also has this little kick drum attached to one foot, and a snare drum on the other, and he performs some kind of voodoo with them that caused my feet to start stomping without my consent. Which, after I gave it some time, I found was exactly the right thing to do.

The Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer are a blues group from Vancouver, and it’s always good to see a band play in their hometown, to a floor of friends and fans. At The Cobalt on Thursday, that’s easily what most of the crowd was made up of. It was like being part of a big barn social where everybody knows everyone and they all dance together. Once the voices started singing and the microphones started listening, everyone was up, dancing, and having a great time.

There’s not much to say about the blues that hasn’t already been said, sung, or written. The timeless chord progression has been played to oblivion and back, and there’s not a lot left to really do with it that’s going to knock anyone out of their seat. And yet, the Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer are young, talented, and have circumvented that problem by simply removing the seat. Their music forces you to rise and take part in it. It’s a performance of the eternal blues, not a rewriting of it.

Harmonica has never before been so absolutely captivating. Shawn has earned his title, in fact, he should probably be called the Harp Murderer, if only that word would roll off the tongue a little better. When he peels into a harmonica solo, it’s like being inside the whale, whose every mammoth breath is the squeeze and release of song. His voice is another instrument entirely, an even more primal substitute that is somehow running off the same lungs but is never short of air.

Matt is the beating heart who leads the listener with his feet, commanding them to react with a kick and a snare. His guitar is oddly enough, the last thing I would label as “murdered” – it is for the most part played softly and is only really used as a background canvas for the voice and harmonica to draw upon.

There was never a break in the energy at the show – despite the relatively small crowd. But it didn’t take much to have fun with these guys. The Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer knew how to squeeze the most out of their audience, and did so by leading them.

It might be easy to think that blues music has one foot in the grave already – I certainly might have – but these two musicians have shown that perhaps, you don’t need to reinvent a genre to convince it to come outside again. You just need to give it a harpoon. - Vancouver Weekly


"Editors Pick of the Month"

Stumbling across these guys, I have to say, “Yum yum!” As an obvious blues fanatic, I just love their raw, dirty sound and give two thumbs up to their approach. Be sure to check these dudes out when they hit a low-lit establishment nearest you. Here’s what the Axe Murder, a.k.a. Matt Rogers, had to say in an interview with me.

BeatRoute: Tell me a bit about your sound. What are you guys doing that is “unique to Canada”?
Matt Rogers: We are blues for a changing world. Using the established traditions of the old blues masters (Robert Johnson, Blind Willie McTell, Muddy Waters) and combining with sounds for the modern times. We also made the choice to stick to the duo format and make as much noise, and as deep a groove, as possible for two people - and specifically with no looping, programming, or pre-recording.

BR: Where are you headed? What are your goals?
MR: We wanna spend our spring and summers doing nothing but playing blues and folk festivals … They treat you oh so well (Calgary Folk Music Festival in particular, which I've only played with another band: C.R. Avery), then spend our winters doing nothing but recording new music that enough people buy that we can afford to eat and pay rent.

BR: So, it's just the two of you? Tell me about this.
MR: Yup! It was a very conscious decision for many reasons:
(1) It's challenging, you have to work your ass off. I play drums with my feet, guitar with my hands and sing a bit. Shawn sings, plays blues harp, and plays some foot percussion. We are usually a complete sweaty mess after a few tunes.
(2) It's really rewarding: being only two people and getting a whole crowd up and dancing is a really good feeling.
(3) We can veer the music any which way we want and we only have the one other person to communicate with. Basically, I am the rhythm section, I hold the conch and can speed up, slow down, change keys, bridge into another tune … whatever suits the vibe of the show.
(4) Drummers hit on your girlfriend and eat all the food in your fridge.
(5) Organizing rehearsals is much easier.
(6) We tour in a hatchback.
(7) We are good friends, so there are very little band politics. I believe that half of being a successful band is simply not breaking up and sticking to it and improving as artists. We’ll be playing music together until we’re old and grey.

BR: What’s your latest news? Album?
MR: Yes, we have a brand new album that we are literally mixing as we speak. We really think it's gonna blow people's socks off. It’s a very big sounding album more in the style of Big Sugar, White Stripes. It’s called Checkered Past. We are releasing it in Vancouver on October 27 at The Waldorf Hotel. We have an EP of “sneak peeks” from it that we'll be selling at the show in Calgary.

BR: Why blues?
MR: Both of us grew up playing the blues in our early teens, but moved away from it towards our early twenties because a lot of the popular blues at the time seemed really tired and samey-same. Admittedly, this very well could've just been that we weren't digging deep enough. About five years ago, we both had a bit of resurgence in our love for the genre (especially the real early stuff) and it made complete sense to both of us to start a blues band and build it from the earlier folk-blues traditions that we were both really into at the time. So, the intention from the beginning was to build from the earlier blues style and develop our own sound from that, rather than starting with Stevie Ray Vaughan or Eric Clapton or the guys that everyone tries to imitate.

- Beatroute Magazine


"The Harpoonist and The Axe Murderer aren't scary"

Some bands get offended, even outraged, when compared to another act.

But Vancouver’s The Harpoonist & the Axe Murderer see things differently.

In fact, the acoustic blues-folk duo, which has been described as Canada’s answer to The Black Keys, uses the comparison as a marketing tactic.

Although not entirely similar, the two groups share a talent of blending a classic, swampy blues style with modern pop sensibilities.

“It gives people a reference and when you give people a reference, they’re more likely to open up,” explains Shawn Hall, the group’s singer and harmonica player.

“There are a lot of people who say, ‘Oh we don’t sound like anybody else.’

But I think we’re past that phase in our life. It’s really nice to have other people out there who are blues musicians who are popular like The Black Keys. You don’t have to dumb things down, but it’s nice to be able to give people a reference point.”

Hall says the mainstream popularity of such blues-based acts as The Black Keys and The White Stripes (as well as pretty much any other Jack White-related project) during the past decade has helped the band find an audience.

And the duo is hoping to increase that fanbase with its upcoming new album, Checkered Past, being released in October.

The record still features blasts of meaty Delta Blues, but there’s also more emphasis on catchy hooks and hummable melodies.

“It’s the darkest thing we’ve done,” says Hall.

“The stories are of pretty seedy characters and pretty dire situations. But we didn’t want the whole album to be dark. The melodies aren’t dark.

“We wanted to make sure we wrote a more cohesive record this time.”

Hall and bandmate Matthew Rogers have been playing music together for the better part of a decade. But it wasn’t until Rogers returned to Vancouver from Montreal five years ago that The Harpoonist & the Axe Murderer started to find its niche.

“When I was in Montreal, I really immersed myself in the guitar stylings of old blues legends like Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters and Son House,” says Rogers.

“The idea hit me that it would be a lot of fun to start a blues-based duo with Shawn, and he immediately agreed.”

As for the band’s odd name, Rogers explains it was inspired by the Kris Kristofferson song, Me and Bobby McGee.

“He sings, ‘I took my harpoon out of my dirty red bandana,’” says Rogers.

“I had never heard the blues harmonica referred to as a harpoon. I thought, ‘We have to use that in our name. So Shawn is the ‘Harpoonist’ because he plays the harp and I’m the ‘Axe Murderer’ because I play the guitar (often referred to as an axe.) Rogers admits the name had led some people to believe the duo’s sound is akin to death metal.

“Some people are scared of the name,” he says.

“We try and offset the scariness by using a cute bear and fox playing our instruments as our logo.”

The Harpoonist & the Axe Murderer perform at the Beaumont Blues Festival on Sunday.

For more info, go to www.harpoonistaxemurderer.com

lisa.wilton@sunmedia.ca
- The Calgary Sun


"Rebranding the Blues"

They call it “blues that gets you in the pants”.

“As opposed to tired old blues,” says Shawn Hall, a.k.a. The Harpoonist.

He and Matt Rogers, a.k.a the Axe Murderer, came together about five years ago to create their sound that is garnering recognition across the west as the duo strive to rebrand the image of the blues.

“This is blues for a much wider age category,” says Hall of the music. “It kinda gets you primally.”

Hall and Rogers have known each other for 10 years and found that they had something in common when it came to where they wanted to take their music – and, more specifically, their love of the blues.

“We grew tired of playing in bands and decided to see how much noise two people could make,” says Hall. “To create the illusion of much more than two of us.”

The result was The Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer, who give the blues a fresh take, with contemporary aspects mixed with the traditional structure and emotion of the blues. With Hall on the harmonica and vocals and Rogers on guitar, foot percussion and vocals, the sound is something new and unique and is catching on quick.

“This band has allowed me to be a harp player and a singer,” says Hall. “And we can tour in our Mazda Protegé.”

Hall says the guys started off performing a lot of covers of traditional blues artists like Willie Dixon and Muddy Waters. The duo still cover a fair amount of hits from that great era of ‘50s blues, but find themselves performing many of their own original songs too.

The songwriting is dynamic, due to the fact that the guys have very different personalities.

“Between the two of us, when we’re writing it’s half and half,” says Hall. “It (the musical relationship) has become a lot more collaborative, but we’re really different guys other than the fact that we both have beards.”

Hall describes the relationship like a marriage, with himself as the emotional one and Rogers as the more rational of the two.

“I’m like the older woman in the relationship,” he says laughing.

The two lead busy lives when they’re not touring and performing, with Rogers working as a producer and film scorer in Vancouver, and Hall also producing and working on music for various ad campaigns. He says that line of work, though quite different from playing in a band, keeps him grounded.

“It’s a more intuitive process where your heart is not attached to every three to five minute performance.”

By contrast, Hall says when he and Rogers are on stage, they take their music quite seriously and put their heart and soul into every song.

“We’re bleeding by the time we finish the third song,” he says.

The Harpoonist in the Axe Murderer will visit Jasper on Sept. 5, but it won’t be the first or last time they are in town.

“We’ve played there a lot,” says Hall, adding that he loves playing in mountain towns. “I’ve always had a love affair with the Rockies. Ever since my childhood. It’s so very Canadian. And the people [in the small towns] really love it. They dig in.”

As for their future plans, Hall says that in the short term the guys hope to make a big dent in the blues festival scene next summer.

“And in the long term, we want a Juno. We want to put a brand new face on blues music in Canada and show that the art form is thriving.”

Catch The Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer at the Downstream Bar on Sept. 5. Show starts at 9 p.m.
- The Fitzhugh


"No Blues but the Blues"

The Harpoonist & the Axe Murderer combine rock-n-roll swagger with decades deep blues style

Scott Brown, What's Up Yukon - What's Up Yukon


"Bringing some Bloody Blues North"

They’re about blues - the type of blues that you have to go out to the crossroads to learn - with a dash of rock and soul.

Chris Oke, Yukon News - Yukon News


"Sweaty Dance Parties"

Shawn Hall and Matt Rogers are used to making a racket without a lot of help.

As The Harpoonist and The Axe Murderer, the duo have played plenty of big clubs, and turned them into sweaty dance parties.

'Airplay' with Dave White, CBC Radio North - 'Airplay' with Dave White, CBC Radio North


"Fresh take to Roots Music"

'The Harpoonist & Axe Murderer add a fresh take to the roots music genre via contemporary lyrics and arrangements but maintain traditional structures and emotion. A welcome addition to the Canadian blues and roots music scene.' - Holger Petersen -CBC Saturday night Blues


"The Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer put on killer performance at the Toronto Star"

Not that those of us responsible for the Toronto Star’s ongoing Newsroom Concert Series view it as a contest or anything, but so far the Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer are, hands down, the act that’s earned the most disapproving looks from a floorful of reporters, editors and designers busily struggling towards deadline at One Yonge St.

Apologies to our colleagues, then, for disrupting one recent afternoon at crunch time with a slightly louder newsroom session than they might have expected. But all love regardless to the rollicking, Vancouver-based blues-rock duo of Shawn “The Harpoonist” Hall and Matt “The Axe Murderer” Rogers — not to mention their indispensable touring backup vocalist, Dawn Pemberton — for killing it in sublimely greasy-‘n’-grimy fashion during their visit to the Star’s fifth-floor editorial epicentre earlier this month.

To be honest, we were lucky to catch this pair in action in such close quarters while we could. The Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer have been gradually winding their way towards a mainstream crossover comparable to those previously achieved by such kindred spirits as the White Stripes and the Black Keys since the release of their fourth album, A Real Fine Mess, late last year. The band’s latest single, “Don’t Make ’Em Like They Used To,” spent a couple of weeks at No. 1 on the CBC Radio 2 chart this summer and they’d already landed multiple Maple Blues Awards nominations and a Juno nomination for Blues Album in the Year in 2015 before receiving word, literally minutes before taking the stage at the Star, that they’re also up for New/Emerging Artist of the Year at the Canadian Folk Music Awards in Edmonton this coming November.

So, yes, things are a-happenin’ for the Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer at the moment. As well they should — their bigger-than-it-has-any-right-to-be two-man live show is a jaw-dropping thing to behold, and their recorded output has evolved to the point that it currently walks a line between unvarnished DIY grit and accessibly melodic pop polish capable of pleasing indie-rock aficionados and classic-rock die-hards in equal measure.

Why take this writer at his word, however, when you can listen and judge for yourself right here? - The Star Toronto


Discography

'The Blues Can Kill You!' - 2007
'The Harpoonist & The Axe Murderer' - 2008
Checkered Past - 2012

Photos

Bio

With a name like the Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer, you might be forgiven for thinking that the Vancouver--based duo is some sort of concept group, based on a hypothetical love story between Captain Ahab and Lizzie Borden.---- Chris Oke, Yukon News

In reality, The Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer stir up a lot more than just violent nautical imagery. Armed with a sack of harmonicas, a mess of foot percussion and a road--worn Telecaster, Shawn The Harpoonist Hall and Matthew The Axe Murderer Rogers kick out raw and primal blues; continuing in the tradition of a decades--deep blues style (Scott Brown, Whats up Yukon), while electrifying the genre a with a lightning bolt of new life. Their sound pays homage to influences ranging from Robert Johnson to Jack White, but its smothered in greasy, gritty soul, and punched with funk. Early on in their career, Hall and Rogers made the choice to limit their sound to whatever they could play between them, using only their mouths, hands and feet, and eventually the sound became larger than the band itself. Shawn Hall provides soul--tinged vocals and blues harmonica, while Matthew Rogers rips on the guitar and foot percussion simultaneously. Their music is not polite; it slaps you on the face and refuses to apologize. It somehow manages to cut through all the layers of clutter, all the anxieties, tensions and phobias and hit people directly at their core. It is how the blues are meant to be played.
The two met and bonded over music while in a recording session for a radio jingle, and named their new project after the blues harp reference lyric I took my harpoon out of my dirty red bandana from Kris Kristoffersons Bobby Mcgee, as well as the common reference to a guitar as an axe. And while their name may lose HAM some gigs at seniors homes and community halls, the band has made their peace with that. The Harpoonist and The Axe Murderer released their inaugural album The Blues Can Kill in 2007, and have enjoyed a steady climb up to the widely acclaimed 2011 release, Checkered Past. They were top 20 finalists out of hundreds of bands in the 2012 Peak Performance Project in British Columbia, and rocked on to win Blues Artist of the Year at the SiriusXM Indies as well as nominations for Blues Recording of the Year at the 2012 Western Canadian Music Awards, and New Artist and Album of the Year at the Maple Blues Awards. They have recently created a big buzz by jetting around to showcases such as Breakout West, The Toronto Blues Summit, Folk Alliance and South by Southwest. Shawn and Matthew have also seen their fair share of festival stages including Live At Squamish (2012), North Country Fair (2012), The Beaumont Blues Fest (2011), and Kaslo Jazz Festival (2012). Along the way, theyve been honored to share the stage with some of the worlds finest blues acts, including Taj Mahal, Colin Linden and Carlos del Junco.
The Harpoonist and The Axe Murderer show no signs of wear and tear despite the fact that in every show, before the end of the first song, the pair is already drenched in sweat. In fact, they are preparing to record the next down and dirty collection of tunes for release next year, and have a chock-a-block full summer 2013 festival season. So whether youre listening to The Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer at a festival, in a bar or on record there is an unquestionable connection, passion, and groove. As one fan put it: this is blues that gets you in the crotch.

The Harpoonist & the Axe Murderer add a fresh take to the roots music genre via contemporary lyrics and arrangements, but maintain traditional structures and emotion. A welcome addition to the Canadian blues and roots music scene.---- Holger Peterson, CBC Saturday Night Blues

Band Members