Rat Silo: Unfortunately… Post Pandemic Punk we all need
Rat Silo have always stayed true to themselves with the music they write and perform and their 5th studio album, Unfortunately… is true to form.
Written during the ’20 – ’21 pandemic during intermittent band rehearsals, the album features frontman Jim Newton’s acerbic biting wit of ‘tell it like it is’ on such songs as Head on a Stick (“At the trial of the century it all went down, You was dressed up in a suit but, underneath it still a clown” Trump?) You Have to Believe it (“The olden days seem so misty when you hide all the the things that bring you down “), and others.
The band too is in fine form; Rat Silo always has a raw, real sound; never over-polished. From the frenetic pace of The World is Going to End Tomorrow, to the ‘Viking march‘ feel of Fire Below, and the Punk rock sea shanty The Sailing Song, the band has served up another album with their own distinctive sound and commentary. I especially like the drums in How Does it Feel.
Unfortunately… is available on CD via the band’s website HERE, and can be streamed on Spotify and the usual places. (go for the CD! its got Rat Silo’s usual cool artwork both on album cover and disc)
Rat Silo’s Unfortunately… was recorded at Hipposonic Studios in Vancouver, by Dave “Rave” Ogilvie; mixed by Anthony ‘Vu’ Valcic at his studio in Halfmoon Bay, BC.
Rat Silo: Unfortunately...
At the end of November, the politically charged Vancouver rock act Rat Silo issued Unfortunately..., their fifth album. The seven-song set collects their earlier singles "The World Is Going To End Tomorrow" and "Head on a Stick," along with five others. Rat Silo grafts a seasoned, hard rock edge on songwriting otherwise rooted in 80s post-punk (with a few galloping punk numbers like "You Have to Believe It" thrown in for good measure).
The quartet recorded at Vancouver's Hipposonic Studios with veteran producer, and former Skinny Puppy player, Dave "Rave" Ogilvie (the engineer behind massive hits for Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson). Rat Silo features guitarist/vocalist Jim Newton and bassist Don Binns, both from the late-80s/early-90s rock band Sons Of Freedom. They're backed here by drummer Sean Stubbs and Erkan Gencol on electronics.
The band issued The Great Northern Way, their third LP, in 2011. Following a brief hiatus, they reformed in 2016, cumulating in a 2020 LP (sharing a title with their recent single) The World Is Going to End Tomorrow.
by Adam White, Friday December 30, 2022
RAT SILO: I SACRIFICE
Rat Silo has a very raw sound. The guitar riff is very catchy and impeccably played. The drum is solid and its interaction with the bass makes it more solid yet.
The vocals are intense. We found that every sound element of the track reaches the genre and stick to it. The song doesn’t seek experimentation. It just looks to be really rocker. and “I Sacrifice” is a song that really rocks.
By FERNANDO NUNEZ - November 15, 2022
On Our Radar: Rat Silo reminds us that we're all doomed with video for "The World Is Going to End Tomorrow"
Jesus H. Christ, and fuck Vladimir Putin—talk about a case of art reflecting reality. Or, put another way, we’re at a point in history when “The World Is Going to End Tomorrow” somehow seems like more than a song from the Vancouver scene-vets in Rat Silo. It also sounds like a prophecy that could very well come true and day.
Here’s a terrifying way to spend a couple of seconds: fire up Google, punch in “Putin nukes”, and try not to blanche at the fact the search brings up 10,700,000 pages. The first one being, at the time of this writing, a Daily Mail story headlined “Ukraine War: Russian state media threatens to wipe out US East Coast with nukes.”
Normally we’d note that, according to Wikipedia, the famed British tabloid has "been noted for its unreliability and widely criticized for its printing of sensationalist and inaccurate scare stories.” Except that, in this case, story number two, by the considerably more credible New York Times, reads “Putin’s Threats Highlight the Dangers of a New, Riskier Nuclear Era.”
We’re all fucking doomed.
There’s something menacingly doomy about “The World Is Going to End Tomorrow”, which kicks off memorably with cascading post-everything guitar and a rolling death-dance bassline courtesy of Don Binns. Rat Silo then immediately locks into a groove best described as hypnotic, drummer Sean Stubbs anchoring things on the back end, and Erkan Gencol adding splashes of electro-loop weirdness.
Double impressive is the way that “The World Is Going to End Tomorrow” sounds studio-quality even though it’s performed live at the group’s Rat’s Nest rehearsal space.
As for the video by scene mainstay Adam P.W. Smith, the more you pay attention to the little things, the more you’re rewarded. The visuals start with a girl wearing a gasmask standing in front of a mini-blackboard emblazoned with “By the time you read this I’ll be dead.” From there, you might as well make things interesting by going the free-association route.
Going down that path, one might very well posit that the cardboard cutout wearing what looks like the gold star from the Chinese flag is meant to symbolize the ascension of China as a global superpower seemingly in bed with the Russians.
Or that the “left if right” on cardboard cutout number two isn’t necessarily an endorsement of Billy Bragg, Rage Against the Machine, or Ernesto "Che" Guevara, but instead a commentary on that reality that when you go far enough in one direction on the political spectrum, you eventually collide with the equally intolerant, dogmatic lunatics from the other side.
Old newsreel clips sliced between the band’s performance deliver a cavalcade of cheery messages: “REMAIN INDOORS”, “Nuclear accident”, “....it will be necessary...to start a temporary evacuation of the town’s inhabitants”. And shots of mass rioting, burning vehicles, and bombed out neighbourhoods add to the argument that the world is indeed going to hell in a flaming handcart.
A grainy black-and-white snippet should drive home everything when a newspaper is picked up to reveal the words “MILLIONS FLEE FROM CITIES! END OF THE WORLD”. But in case it doesn’t, you’ve got singer Jim Newton punching in every 90 seconds or so with the Sons-meet-Dylan refrain “The world is going to end tomorrow”.
He might very well be right. So crank it, fingers crossed that art doesn’t end up prophesying reality.
by Mike Usinger (Twitter @MikeUsinger) on June 4th, 2022 at 9:45 AM
The Georgia Straight - Music
Rat Silo: "The World Is Going To End Tomorrow"
Vancouver post-punk quartet Rat Silo has a new EP on the way titled Unfortunately..., a set you can preview now through the single "The World Is Going To End Tomorrow." If that sounds familiar, it was also the title of the band's 2020 full-length. The group recorded at Vancouver's Hipposonic Studios this past December with veteran producer Dave "Rave" Ogilvie. Rat Silo features guitarist/vocalist Jim Newton and bassist Don Binns, both from the late-80s/early-90s rock band Sons Of Freedom. They're backed here by drummer Sean Stubbs and Erkan Gencol on electronics.
Rat Silo released The Great Northern Way, their third LP, in 2011. Following a hiatus, they reformed in 2016, cumulating in that prophetically named 2020 album.
by Adam White, Tuesday May 24, 2022
Rat Silo Channel Current Events into Apocalyptic Post-Punk Project
Rat Silo: The World Is Going To End Tomorrow
We decided to both review Rat Silo’s new album – Scotty’s comments in black, Donna’s comments in italics.
Sometimes chance timing can look prophetic or derived; it depends on what side of the timeline you are on. Even though the genesis for this album started last year, the title and more than a few of the tracks of the latest audio offering from Vancouver’s Rat Silo serve as ongoing social commentary.
This modest album “The World is Going to End Tomorrow” starts off with a single released last year; “I Sacrifice: A Veteran’s Lament” is a surprisingly upbeat tune framing simple yet dark lyrics. // Being a lyrics person, this one resonated the most for me- ties in remarkably with what the world is going through right now; undervaluing sacrifices made by people in times of crisis. Punchy hard rock number.
“Curse of the Wu-Hu”…what on earth could that be about? Effected loops and bass drive this brief ditty…it’s catchy and I wanted more. // I wanted more too!
“Suspect” returns to some straight up guitar that frames the chorus with high energy…again I wanted a bit more. // There always has to be one song you put on the end of your ‘like’ list…. Suspect is my least favourite song on the album.. I just didn’t connect with it (yet).
“Waterboarding for Christ” however is what you really expect from this band; plodding riffs accentuated by electronic rhythms. It’s moody and draws you in hypnotically. It’s off-kilter and imperfectly excellent. // Agreed. This sounds like the Rat Silo I was introduced to with songs like ‘Fuck off Tony’ and ‘Blame it on Your Momma’. It’s one of the more political statements of the album for sure, and I love that Rat Silo is staying true to their roots and have something to say.
“(I’m So Glad I’m) Living on the Moon (With My Baby)” Is filled as much by parentheses as it is with a great bass riff, cymbals and irreverently delivered yet topical lyrics that turn into a discordant jam.
“The Ideas in Your Head” asks exactly that and answers it with looping bass and percussion. It’s a groovy tune. // I found this song and the next, Get High and Quit’ to be more idea than song Very long intro, very long out-tro and very little lyrically in-between, but I did like it very much.
“Get High and Quit” really stands out; the musicianship here shines and is the tightest track instrumentally on the album. The tempo helps pulls one out of the more plodding offerings that pace the tracks. // Rat Silo describe this one as ‘punchy smooth miserable groove’ – apt!
“Don’t Come Back for Me” draws you in…”No matter what I do, no matter what I say…” leaves a great visual with a tune that belongs on a gritty spaghetti western soundtrack. Again, it leaves you wanting more. // I found this to be the ‘fullest’ song on the album, it just ‘sounds’ full and well rounded.. spaghetti western eh? I’m off to go listen again!
“Dance of the Dead” opens with a subdued tribal rhythm and a phased light strumming of guitar overtop. Morrison-esque vocals add to the somber mood. Working to an instrumental crescendo it slowly fades out as it started. // Can a raw punk song be melancholy? I REALLY like this one. Simplistic in its lyrical value but for me this song left the greatest visual in my brain. I love songs that can make me see things in my mind’s eye.
“The Inevitable” starts off with a bass line that drags it’s feet a little. I found the looping synth tied it together but it was a tad anti-climactic for a final track. Commentary about humanity going out with a whimper instead of a bang?
As a whole, I felt the tracks I enjoyed the most tended to be the shortest…especially with the strong riffs in “Wu-Hu”. “Waterboarding” is the best thing off the album in my opinion.
All in all, the musicianship is strong and I really look forward to hearing these tunes live.
Reminiscent in some respects of The Cure (Disintegration), or Radio Head (OK Computer) or even the first cd from Sons of Freedom (2 of whom went on to join Rat Silo), this cd has a wide spread of grooves thanks to Erkan Gencol’s ‘loops and noises’.
The tracks I enjoyed the most tended to be the longest, or fullest: ‘The World is Going to End Tomorrow’, ‘Don’t Come Back for You’, ‘Dance of the Dead’ – goes to show that the new Rat Silo album has something for everyone. Best advice comes from Jim Newton> Play Loud. REAL LOUD.
Formed in 2007, on hiatus from 2012-2016, and back wth [sic] a revised lineup, Rat Silo are:
Jim Newton Guitar, Vocals.
Erkan Gencol Loops and Noises
Don Binns Bass
Sean Stubbs Drums
all rights reserved
written by Scotty Evil and Donna Mair
The World is Going to End Tomorrow
Rat Silo | Ratsilo.com
Recording number four from this Vancouver band featuring guitarist/singer Jim Newton (Sons of Freedom) finds the quartet sounding as focused and groovy as ever. Opening with I Sacrifice, which press materials say “deals with undervaluing sacrifices made by people in times of crisis,” and running 10 tunes, the album is tight, taut and totally perfect for stir crazy COVID-19 life. Waterboarding For Christ is also one of the best song titles of 2020.
Stuart Derdeyn - The Vancouver Sun
Jul 14, 2020
Rat Silo play loud strong set at LanaLous Vancouver
Rat Silo played an intimate and fantastically loud show at LanaLou’s late Friday night. Opening for Rat Silo was Molly Griffin. A beautiful talented voice, her band played a cover of the Rolling Stones “Down Home Girl”. I loved her voice and style, very rock and roll-esque, yet classy mixed with blues.
Rat Silo, (who’s frontman Jim Newton is famous for previous band Sons of Freedom) played a short but strong set which didn’t start until very late into the evening. I was unfamiliar with Rat Silo before the show so was expecting a slow quiet show (due to the intimate setting) but when the guitars, drum, and bass started in I was proved wrong.
They cranked up the volume high! I was quite surprised by their loud punk rock, it was almost like, 80s post punk, but with heavier refined guitar and drum tone. They started the show with “Duh” a song reminiscent of Jim Morrison. Everyone at Lana Lou’s was paying attention and I loved Jim’s attitude when he plays, you can tell he was in the zone throughout the show.
Rat Silo played a little more then half an hour, a bit of a bummer if you ask me, I wanted to hear at least another 4 or 5 songs! They closed the show at midnight sharp, something past punk forefathers would probably be against but I was glad to have the songs we did get.
I enjoyed the different pacing of the setlist playing off their 3 albums; “Duh” a fast song to start then “Ass Camp” to get everyone pumped and then toning it down mid set and closing the show off with “Oh, Fuck Off Tony”. With on-point drums, fast impeccable guitar riffs, and the band all dressed in black shirts, these 80’s punk rockers showed they still have it in them to perform. I’m honestly sold for a small intimate show.
Solid 8/10 (only because it was too short). Rat Silo – one of Vancouver better punk bands – check these guys out at their next show and remember to support your local scene!
Rat Silo is Don Binns (Sons of Freedom) -Bass, Finn Manniche -Guitar, Jim Newton (Sons of Freedom) -Vocals, Dave Osborne (54-40) -Piano/Organ, Sean Stubbs (Jakalope, SNFU, Bif Naked).
Rat Silo next show: Friday March 2 at Stylus Records -check out the Facebook event for more info.
February 13, 2018 ©nightMair Creative.com written by Emilio Angel all rights reserved Used by permission.
The Great Northern Way
The Great Northern Way - Rat Silo - ratsilo.com
BC Musician Mag review
With an anthemic opening title like “Ass Camp” written from the point of view of a puerile thirteen-year-old how could it be anything other than a hard rock record? The next track “2:45” sounds like the Stones on “Between The Buttons.” Lead singer Jim Newton and bass player Don Binns were both members of Sons of Freedom. After that band broke up in 1993 Newton basically left music for a decade while Binns has played with Art Bergmann, Econoline Crush, Lee Aaron and others. This CD is Rat Silo’s third. There are ten songs, Newton wrote nine and co-wrote the tenth. The other members of the band are Finn Manniche on guitar, Dave Osborne on keyboards, and Sean Stubbs on drums. Manniche has played with 54-40 as well as in classical and jazz quartets, Osborne with 54-40 and Tainted Lovers, Stubbs with Jakalope, SNFU, Bif Naked and Tainted Lovers.
After four years together the band are still exploring their roots in hard rock. Some of the songs have a satirical edge but they are delivered without irony. Like a cross between Ziggy Stardust and the Ramones. They both make a lot of noise but they have conflicting sensibilities. There are moments of greatness on this CD but, to some degree, the band is constrained by the limits of its past. They are still swallowing their influences and they haven’t quite integrated them into an entirely new sound of their own yet. When they do it’s going to be sonic mayhem.
November 11, 2012
Rat Silo - Great Northern Way (INDEPENDENT)
When you hear the first track for the very first time, you might guess a punk rock band will be playing for the next 40 minutes. “Ass-Camp” is an energetic beginning to the album, as hardcore and as exciting as any Dead Kennedys song. Vocalist Jim Newton even matches Jello Biafra’s tone at times.
However, if you have an extensive musical memory, Great Northern Way may remind you a fairly popular band from the ‘80s and ‘90s: Sons of Freedom. Frontman Newton and his pal, bassist Don Binns, were members of this nationally-known band. Joined by Finn Manniche (guitar) and Dave Osbourne (piano and organ), the duo’s new project Rat Silo has got its own personality—labeling its genre is even a riddle.
The sequence of “I’m Alive,” “Greedy” and “Heavy” is solid. All of them have good riffs—actually the entire album has powerful guitar riffs—and sound like a mix of punk rock and indie.
The turnover, however, comes up at the best song in this album: “Fat Fucker Blues.” It’s pure classic rock at its highest level that ends up in an inspired guitar solo—close your eyes and you’ll be transported back to the ‘70s.
The next sequence (“Gimme Dat,” “Mr. Twice-a-Week,” “Baby Ride On” and “Duh”) keeps an old fashioned atmosphere, which may make you shake on the dancefloor. I’d highlight the psychedelic solo in “Gimme Dat” as a great point on the record.
I strongly recommend Great Northern Way. You may not like it all, but if you like rock ‘n’ roll, you have lots of it to enjoy.
by Luiz Felipe Silva December 28, 2011
Rat Silo - The Great Northern Way (Self-Released)
From the first screeching guitar riffs of “Ass Camp” onwards, Rat Silo firmly establish roots in their punk-blues influences. The first half of The Great Northern Way is a delicious ode to debauchery, nodding to the sounds of Iggy Pop and the Stoogesand The New York Dolls. The ‘50s style rock ‘n roll keys on “2:45” make up for the track’s abrupt ending, while “Greedy” and “Heavy” build up to the dark “Fat Fucker Blues.” The song’s slow tempo and gritty guitar solo features Rat Silo at their finest, as the group finds a mix that makes them sound less like a cover band and more like the skilled rock ‘n rollers that they are. The album ends with the jumpy, “Duh,” that – on final listen – sounds as repetitive as vocalist Jim Newton’s affected yelps. Overall, Rat Silo has produced an L.P. that is as gritty as the East Van, represented by the neon cross on the inside of the album cover.
By Amanda McCulley Dec 3, 2011
americana UK review
Rat Silo “doubleplusungood” (Independent, 2009)
Coming from Vancouver, Rat Silo ought to be aware of Nomeansno who have been purveying a flexible muscular kind of punk rock for a couple of decades now. They would do well to learn from their forefathers for whilst Rat Silo do occasionally stumble upon the type of pop-punk nugget that makes this sort of thing worthwhile (the chorus of ‘Oh, Fuck Off Tony’ is like a ball of melody and energy bouncing around inside a fishtank) they mostly pour out embarrassingly limited songs in a limp way.
They do try to add killer hooks but they never quite grip ‘Hello Beautiful Girl’ threatens to gain traction but it ends up staring at its own ass. Standing up proudly is ‘Candy Let You Hair Hang Down’ which sounds like the Velvet Underground as played by the Loft or other early Creation record signing. They do have an amiable avoidance of repetition; this could almost be a compilation of rough and ready garage bands with the closing ‘Shiny Light’ sounding like a Silver Jews song popping up on a Nuggets compilation and that would be something worth investigating.
Date review added: Monday, July 13, 2009
Reviewer: David Cowling
Jim Newton, a Vancouverite whose previous band, Sons of Freedom, received critical notice in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, is the creative force behind pop/rock band Rat Silo. After a 12 year hiatus from the music industry, Jim has assembled a crack band of industry veterans—including members of Jakalope, Numb, 54-40, SNFU and the Tainted Lovers—to record Doubleplusungood.
The album shows all the signs of a guy who has returned to making music for the right reasons: he’s good at it and he loves it. And at this point in his career, Newton’s not going to pull his punches, and has earned the right to tell it like it is, as opening rocker “Oh, Fuck Off Tony” sardonically demonstrates. But if this is a man who casts a weary eye at the world (“I Blame It On Your Momma” and “Jiggle My Wiggle”), he has come out with his optimism (mostly) intact, an achievement in itself, which he celebrates on “Shiny Light.” He has also not lost his capacity to love, which expresses itself in wonder and gratitude for relationships on “Hello Beautiful Girl” and “Candy Let Your Hair Hang Down.” The songs are unpretentiously simple in both composition and arrangement, and while this approach can make for music that occasionally sounds familiar, the essence of this music lies in its spirit, not innovation. Hopefully that’s something that music fans can still be grateful for.
CD OF THE WEEK
Rat Silo: Doubleplusungood
The Province, Tuesday May 26 2009
Rat Silo's first album seemed a hasty re-entry to the music business by ex-Sons of Freedom singer Jim Newton, but the second shows a band that has grown in confidence and scope. It just sounds bigger and bolder on songs such as "Shiny Light" or "Oh, F--- Off Tony." Newton's voice may be thin but his songwriting perspective is novel. Credit, too, goes to engineer Mark Henning for being able to expand on the band's sound
RAT SILO doubleplusungood
I was speechless.
Pressing play to a song entitled "Oh, Fuck Off Tony", I never knew what to expect. But as the chords were strummed and the beats from the drums filled my living room, I knew that I was going to like this. It reminded me of one of my favourite bands and their EP, and I couldn’t wait to hear more.
I continue to scroll down the list of songs on doubleplusungood and the titles only get more and more unique. Who in the world would have songs with titles such as "Jiggle My Wiggle", "I Blame it on Your Momma", and "Candy Let Your Hair Hang Down"? Well this mystery has been solved. I now present to you, the reader, the unique works of Rat Silo.
Rat Silo, based out of British Columbia, features Jim Newton belting out the words, Don Binns picking at the strings on his bass, Finn Manniche strumming along on guitar, Dave Osborne pressing those keys and Organ Sean Stubbs tapping away on the drums.
What a fine group.
Others have claimed that this group has many distinct sounds depending on the song. It ranges from rock to blues. Each song seems to tell a story or send out some sort of message to the listener. “Well in a cold dark room in a cheap motel. With a big black dog and silver bell,” starts off "Lord Help Me Focus Tonight". This song continues on to tell the story of a man who may have a bit of trouble in his life. The idea of a story in a song can also be found in "Jiggle My Wiggle", where the first verse starts out saying “Come listen to my tale.”
But the lyrics only continue to get more unique as the songs continue. One of the songs that I really enjoyed started out something like this: "I’m going to eat you said the lion to the zebra as licked his lips and sharpened his claws. You got to catch me said the zebra to the lion as he backed his ass out the door."
I highly recommend listening to "A Lion and Zebra Walked Into A Bar". It is greatly worth the amusement and is definitely a really catchy song. That said, I leave you with this: “Next time you see me, make sure you see me. You won’t see me cause I’ll be gone.”
Why? Cause I’ll be off enjoying the entertainment of Rat Silo, of course!
Georgia Straight Instant Playlist May 7 2009
A Lion and a Zebra Walk Into a Bar (RSMC)
No, it’s not the setup to the kind of joke that hasn’t been funny since Henny Youngman was a hot-list comic, but instead a rollicking shot of piano-powered alt-boogie. Sons of Whodom?
What the Butler Saw
What The Butler Saw
Curiosity killed this Vancougrr Hellcat when I was at "Bonerattle Music Store" (on Commercial Dr.), shopping for a tambourine & cowbell to polish off my upcoming act with THE LIL GUITAR ARMY, at The Penthouse for "The Nearly Famous Music Festival", Nov. 14/08!!!
Much to my surprise, I stumbled across a copy of "Rat Silo's" CD. "WhatThe Butler Saw"… I was looking at the Players on the CD and noticed all these players I knew.
Now it gets complicated!!!
Since I, Gerry-Jenn Wilson, once sang in "Black Eye Buddha" with Rat Silo bassist—Don (Bunny) Binns. Who also used to play in "Sons Of Freedom," with fellow front man—Jim Newton. Who is now singing again with Don (Bunny) Binns In "RAT SILO"… I would have had to have been blind, crippled & crazy not to put their Rat Silo Musical Ass' in a sling & enjoy the process of reviewing these Rodents...For better or worse!!! As I Previously mentioned, Bassist Don (Bunny) Binns & Vocalist Jim Newton have already made history in The Sons Of Freedom.
Onward and upward with RAT SILO they again will make HISTORY! This CD Rocks. There is NOT a stinker on this little gem.. It RULES!
Buy it Now!!
New Music Canada Track of the Day for December 21, 2007
Rat Silo "Getupgotoworkgohomegotobed"
New Music Canada Track of the Day by CBC Radio 3 (CBC Radio 3 | NV2007)
For an increasing number of people, the first time they hear a song is through TV—a teen drama or a commercial. I remember discovering the French duo Air by Googling "levis commercial with couple in sinking car" to find the song "Playground Love." It's got to the point where some people even envision themselves as advertising executives, they close their ideas and put together a scenario for a song that catches them. Kind of backwards, but I understand how it's happened.The first time I played this song on BC's afternoon shows on CBC Radio One all kinds of people said to me, wow—this would be great in a cell phone ad, you know - the ones where people look a bit broken but something could fix it.And it's true. This song by Vancouver band Rat Silo, all one word "getupgotoworkgohomegotobed" is so catchy you just know it could propel some product to mega success. Rat Silo is made up of two former members of the late, great Vancouver band Sons of Freedom: Jim Newton and Don Binns, a band I still admire to this day. Rat Silo's full debut is due in January, but a few songs were put up on their NMC page last month. With some luck people will be Googling "cool song about my dull life" and we'll all be singing along.
What The Butler Saw
Vue Weekly, March 6 2008, Issue #646
What the Butler Saw
Stripped down rock dirges
With tastes of white guy blues and
Rat Silo: What The Butler Saw
Fast Forward Weekly Calgary, March 20 2008
Published March 20, 2008 by Nathan Atnikov in CD Reviews
Depending on your point of view, Rat Silo is either the latest Canadian supergroup or a new busy-work outlet for a collection of aging rock stars. Helmed by former Sons of Freedom front man Jim Newton, Rat Silo also employs members of 54-40, Jakalope, Numb and Bif Naked’s band.
Unfortunately, the most amazing thing about What the Butler Saw is how much the band had to pad the album to get it up to nine tracks, including a Ramones cover (“I Don’t Care”) and two versions of the album’s best song, “The Cock the Size of Roma.” Not to mention “Back Behind the Bike Shed” and “Shut Yer Mouth Jimbo,” both of which are just barely zygotes of songs.
What’s left of the album is actually a fun and inventive collection of blues-rock best suited to a small tavern where your cowboy boots stick to the floor, and your only option at the bar is beer. “The World’s Longest Bar” and “Getupgotoworkgohomegotobed” both drive forward with the confidence of a band that has been around the block — if only they’d taken the time to write some more songs.
Freedom's Newton gravitates to new band
The Province, February 4 2008
Any discussion of Jim Newton's new band, Rat Silo, starts with his old band, Sons of Freedom.
Although Sons of Freedom broke up 15 years ago, it is revered for being ahead of its time and its three albums, two of which can be heard via iTunes, are remembered as being among the best the West Coast, or Canada, of the early '90s had made. The band had great potential but blew it.
"I quit in '93," Newton recalls. "We were in a bad place. We had lost our second recording contract, we weren't happy with our management and we were tired of getting thrown in with all these grunge bands."
Newton ended the band in-fighting by moving to Toronto. He came back to Vancouver a few years ago, and initially tried to fashion a band with former Sons. When this didn't work, Rat Silo came into being. Newton had the drive and the songs and he no longer felt the music business was his enemy.
"You don't ever want to make the same mistake twice," Newton says. "We didn't want a repeat of Sons of Freedom. Rat Silo is a natural extension rather than a duplicate of Sons of Freedom."
He called on Finn Manniche (a multi-instrumentalist, who restricts himself to thrilling lead guitar), Dave Osborne (keyboards, 54-40 alumnus), Don Binns (from Sons Of Freedom, on bass) and drummer Sean Stubbs.
Their starting place is an album, What the Butler Saw.
"I wanted to keep everything flexible based on who joined up," he explains. "I had worked out all the songs in advance with Pro-tools. The original versions were quite whacky.
"I started it," Newton continues. "Nobody would have been in the band if I hadn't pulled it together. In that regard, it's my band."
The change from Newton's demos to what is on the album, merely is down to letting each musician play in their style. The result is varied and not at all what might be expected of the singer of Sons of Freedom. The closest Rat Silo comes to sounding like SOF is not even a Newton song but The Ramones' "I Don't Care" slowed down to a heavy dirge. The album starts with the jaunty "Getupgotoworkgohomegotobed." Songs such as "Shut Yer Mouth Jimbo" are examples of Newton's sarcastic humour.
However, there is a feeling that Newton was in a hurry to get a band launched. Therefore, if Rat Silo continues to develop, a more distinctive sound will emerge. For now, this is a respectable introduction to Rat Silo and re-introduction to Jim Newton.
Rat Silo swaggers to life
Georgia Straight, April 17, 2008
By Alexander Varty
Those who remember Sons of Freedom—the Vancouver postpunk band of the 1980s and early 1990s, not the lumpy, nude Doukhobor protesters of the Wacky Bennett era—probably retain a clear mental image of singer Jim Newton. Back in the day, he was one of our city’s most charismatic frontmen, a lean and feral figure in the Jim Morrison or Iggy Pop mode. And judging by the sound of his new band, Rat Silo, he’s managed to retain all of his intensity, despite a 10-year sabbatical from the music industry. One thing has changed, however: these days, Newton’s more than happy to laugh at himself.
Rat Silo’s debut, What the Butler Saw, is one of the most hilarious hard-rock records since the Igster’s underappreciated New Values. Whether spewing over-the-top sexual innuendo on “Dirty Girl” or erecting a lurid advertisement for “The Cock the Size of Roma”, Newton takes a slew of sleazy obsessions and blows them up to blimpish proportions. The miraculous part of this act, however, is that while his tongue is obviously planted in his cheek, he’s also wholly believable in his rock-god swagger.
“You’ve got to stand up there with a deadpan face and just give it,” says the British-born singer, on the line from his East Van digs. “If you kind of crap out and let everybody in on the gag, you’re not acting in character anymore, and the whole point is to act in character—to really be that.”
By far the most amusing track on What the Butler Saw is the a cappella “Shut Yer Mouth Jimbo”, in which Newton brags “I know everybody/I know everything” while the rest of the Rats gang-chant the title.
“I wanted to make sure that people realize that it’s perfectly all right to pick on the singer occasionally,” the vocalist explains, laughing. “Sometimes you’ve got to burst the singer’s bubble.”
But don’t make the mistake of thinking that Newton’s new band is some kind of Dread Zeppelin–style piss-take. The album’s kickoff track, “Getupgotoworkgohomegotobed”, is a heartfelt yet hard-hitting look at the dreaded midlife crisis, and one that’s obviously drawn from personal experience. With its opening lines of “Stuck in a rut/And I feel so afraid,” it’s a true cry from the soul—and, not surprisingly, it was written during Newton’s decade-long retirement from rock.
Rat Silo’s frontman explains that he was actually done with music as early as 1993, when Sons of Freedom disbanded. The group reconvened a couple of years later, to promote a rarities package, Tex, but this final tour only confirmed his disillusionment. In short order, Newton trained as an actor, but didn’t find that role fulfilling; earned a diploma in land surveying from BCIT; moved to Toronto and got married; and wrote an album’s worth of sampler- and sequencer-based songs, which he ultimately shelved.
He then got a degree in computer engineering, and it was while he was employed as an IT technician that “Getupgotoworkgohomegotobed” emerged. “The money was exceptionally good,” he confesses, “but when you do a bit of navel-gazing and look at your life, you realize how much you’re doing that isn’t just about bare-bones survival.” More soul-searching ensued, followed by a divorce and a move back to Vancouver—and to making music.
In Rat Silo, Newton is joined by his Sons of Freedom colleague Don Binns on bass, along with Finn Manniche on guitar, Dave Osborne on keyboards, and Sean Stubbs on drums. The quintet was originally something Newton threw together for What the Butler Saw, but the rock veterans—who, collectively, have also performed with 54-40, Bif Naked, Numb, and Jakalope—connected on such an intuitive level that they quickly became a band. And if Newton has his way, Rat Silo will have a long and enjoyable career—despite the band’s being formed during what he describes as “the worst possible time” to be involved in the music business.
“The one thing I make a point of, right now, is to try and make sure that I’m actually having fun with this all the time,” he says. “It’s kind of like a little mantra for Rat Silo: if we’re not going to make any money, let’s make damn sure we’re having fun.”
Rat Silo plays the Plaza Club tonight (April 17) and the Railway Club next Thursday (April 24).
Georgia Straight CD review, January 31 2008
By John Lucas
What the Butler Saw (Independent)
Rat Silo is the latest project headed by singer-guitarist Jim Newton, working here in collaboration with some fairly well-known local musicians, including bassist Don Binns. You may recall that the two played together in a certain Vancouver band that achieved national popularity in the late ’80s and early ’90s, but don’t get the wrong idea. As the new band’s bio states, “Rat Silo doesn’t sound like Sons of Freedom, so give up that expectation.”
What does Rat Silo sound like? For the most part, it sounds like stripped-down rock with blues-based chord progressions. Well, except for “Shut Yer Mouth Jimbo”, which doesn’t have any chords at all, just a clap-along beat and chanted backing vocals. Oh, and “I Don’t Care”, which comes across as punk rock slowed down to a heavy, funereal dirge. I guess that’s what happens when you treat a Ramones song as if it were written by Black Sabbath.
So some of it sounds excellent and some of it seems as if it would benefit from a bigger budget and tighter production. But as the aforementioned bio warns, “Don’t expect the next one to sound exactly like this one.”
Georgia Straight Jan 31 2008
Live show reviews
Punk Globe review of Art Bergmann gig at Richard's on Richard's , March 26 2009
Rat Silo hit the stage & got the party started at Dix on Dix! This group is a molotov cocktail of ex-members of hit makers "The Sons of Freedom" & "Black Eye Buddha."
The band may have been clad in suit & ties but rocking was their business…and yes,…business was good!!!Don (Bunny) Binns on bass guitar thumped out his "Killing Joke"-infected locomotion while giving the lovely ladies in the audience a visual carrot to munch on! Singer/Swinger Jim Newton crooned faves from Rat Silo's CD, "What The Butler Saw."
Newton's lyrics stick with you like a bad smell that you can easily acquire a taste for, from "Get up go to work go home go to bed"to "Dirty Gir,l" & "Your Daddy Says I Got To Go!" Rat Silo succeeded in lighting a "Purple Jesus Sized Flame" on the Dix on Dix stage and got the hungry audience ready for the main event!
There's also a couple of live pics there, and of course, a review of the main event—Art Bergmann.
Review of gig December 7 2007 at The Bourbon
Cheap Thrills' Dec 12/07 Review
Rat Silo, featuring vocalist/guitarist Jim Newton of Sons Of Freedom, and members from 54-40, SNFU, Jakalope, Numb and and cover band Tainted Lovers, offered a fairly aggressive mix of groove and guttural rock.
They're more intelligent and thought provoking than most of what you hear on the radio these days in Vantown. Very much guitar-driven with a more imaginative brand and execution of lyrics.
One of the standouts being Jim's enunciation of such words as 'far' and 'bar' and the inpactful pause before the last syllable of selected verses.
Dressed in more formal ware, sporting a pair of glasses, Jim came across as having a slightly bemused reaction to the rather docile crowd. ( I was pretty much the only one willing to join in on the Rat Silo cheer.) The William H. Macy of Rock came to mind to my Radio Bandcouver co-hort , Arseniy. I thought that was fitting. A performer striving for something more understated and lasting, not the usual rock star type, vocally or lyrically. This is a good thing. Driving, dancible rock with some smarts is a welcome relief.
On their myspace page, Rat Silo describes their music as sounding like the sound your heart makes when you eat a hot dog. This alone gives you the impression there's something to be further explored with this band. Watch for their album in January, and have a listen to them at: www.myspace.com/ratsilo.
*Mark Bignell, with co-hort, Arseniy Vodopyanov, feeds the indie musical starved airwaves every Thursday afternoon from 2:30-4pm, on Co-op radio 102.7FM. Online from www.myspace.com/bandcouver
*3 Chord Rebel Productions is a young and dynamic music promotion company born out of a burning desire to bring local/independent talent onto the stage and out to the world! www.myspace.com/gordberry
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