BISON B.C. with BIBLICAL, MAXIMUM RNR and TEETHMARKS at the Annex Wreckroom (794 Bathurst), doors 8 pm. $10. 416-536-0346. See listing.
James Farwell has some advice for inexperienced bands hitting the road. "Stay away from strippers and coke, man, and your tour will be fine," he says over the phone from his Vancouver home. "Swear to god, it's that simple."
That advice hints at the types of activities the Bison B.C. vocalist/guitarist and his bandmates have gotten up to on the road, where they've spent much of the last seven years. Travel took a toll on drummer Brad Mackinnon, who left the band in 2011.
More recently, guitarist Dan And admitted to having had a nervous breakdown because of their hectic pace and lifestyle - one reason why the sludge-metal four-piece refrained from immediately touring their fourth album, Lovelessness, which came out on Metal Blade last October.
"We needed a break. We need to cool out. We needed to deal with some shit in our personal lives," Farwell says. "Being the de facto leader of the group, I have a parental love for the dudes, and I want to make sure they all feel good. After Brad left, I promised myself we wouldn't do anything that would push someone over the brink. We love playing the music too much."
But that decision didn't sit well with Metal Blade. In February, the label stunned fans by dropping Bison from its roster. Why would a label drop a band that had just delivered what many, including Farwell, think is their best work: a sweeping, punishing "album of truths" as nuanced as it is crushing, written while Farwell was mourning a breakup, the loss of his dog and turning 40?
"Because that's the way the music industry works, man," he says lightly. "That's how you're rewarded for taking some time to care for yourself so you can keep on keeping on in the long run. You make a fantastic record that you pour your soul into and the thanks is you get fired.
"It's this constant lovely learning experience, which is why I want to distance myself from the entertainment business more than ever."
Farwell is excited about continuing independently and on the members' own schedule. They're also planning to drop "B.C." from their name, since adding it had been Metal Blade's directive and Swedish metal band Ghost have recently added it to theirs at the behest of their label.