Blurton puts his quiet pants on for Public Animal’s new release

Music | by Chris Morin

Public Animal
Saturday 15

There are few figures in Can-rock who make music like Ian Blurton. A legendary shredder known for his work in bands such as Change of Heart, C’mon and Blurtonia, his characteristically unnerving guitar solos and riffs that hit you in the chest like a bag of hammers are everywhere in his work.

So it’s more than a little shocking when Blurton reports that there are, gasp, “quiet parts” on his latest album with Public Animal. What?

Last winter, the group took over The Tragically Hip’s Bathouse Studios outside Kingston, emerging with 10 tracks that fuse Blurton’s signature guitar attack with pummeling rhythms to create a sonic stew of psych, garage and metal. And some softer stuff as well? Maybe.

Public Animal released a split 12-inch with Calgary party rockers Napalmpom last year. Blurton says the new release (no title is given, though the cover has “Rock and Roll” on it) showcases a whole new side of the band. But don’t worry rock fans, despite the presence of “quiet passages” on the LP that are a stark departure from his usual  amps-up-to-11 sound, he’s quick to assure that the new record is still a snarly, salty beast.

“Going quiet, that was definitely never really our thing before,” says Blurton. “But we have three songwriters in this band, and there are a lot of ideas being thrown around now. And there are a lot of songs, and I think the album could have been something different entirely if we had chosen different songs.

“That said, the quiet parts make the heavier parts that much grittier. And we are still fucking incredibly loud live. It’s all part of the animal.”

Not that anyone really expected anything less than deafeningly loud from the Toronto group. Having established himself as a guitar icon for the 30 years he’s playing music, Blurton’s laid the groundwork for heavy acts across Canada.

But with Public Animal, Blurton has expanded his repertoire, sharing vocal duties and mixing his teeth-shattering rhythms and guitar crunch with plenty of Hammond organ. While occasionally channeling ’70s groups such as Deep Purple, Public Animal manage to bow reverently at the altar of riff rock while crafting their own uniquely scuzzy sound.

Outside of a new single, which is being packaged with an as yet unidentified April Wine cover, the band is keeping things under wraps until the album’s release at the end of October. But Blurton says fans can expect plenty of new material when the group hits Amigos as part of CFCR’s FM-Phasis.

If you still haven’t made up your mind about attending, Blurton says you may not see his bearded rock face back any time soon.

“We are flying in special for this show and I doubt we will back until next summer,” he says. “We don’t tend to play the longer tours anymore, and for bands like us, there’s not much point in playing on a Monday or Tuesday somewhere. This way we get to come out on a weekend and everyone can come out and party hard with us.”