Getting to know: Bison Face

Slightly grunge-y, slightly shoegaze-y, slightly like Sonic Youth had a fight with Mogwai, let’s meet:

Bison Face

Introduce your members, what do each of you bring to the band?

I’m Ernie, and I’m the songwriter, singer and guitarist of the band. I guess Bison Face is the sound of my brain really, it started as my passion project when I was doing some session work in 2019. My school friend Alex is the second/lead guitarist and he changes leads in places, bringing some different textures and ambience.

In terms of rhythm section, it’s a bit of a revolving door at the moment, we’ve chewed through a few different line-ups just pending availability or commitment, but we’re lucky to know a lot of incredible musicians to play with live.

When did you last speak to your family?

Fairly regularly, I’m quite introverted and I’ve had a terrible time of it recently so whenever that happens I cocoon up a bit and shut myself away, but we speak on the phone every couple of weeks. The pandemic made it really tough for all kinds of relationships, so hopefully those can be built up again in time.

What are your instrument makes/models of choice and why? Which effects could you not live without?

I play modded Fenders, live I mainly use a Jazzmaster and a Tele Deluxe. They both have double humbuckers with a coil split installed for versatility. I guess I’m chasing that thick Gibson sound but prefer the feel of Fenders, so modding them all finds a middle ground and gives me the instrument that I need to cover our whole set in a live setting. I’ve got an Epiphone ES335 that I’ve modded a bit as well,  it’s not as versatile for live shows as the workhorses, but it will show up on the EP. Alex plays a Gibson SG and a Standard Telecaster live.

I couldn’t live without a distortion, a chorus and a reverb. That’s all you really need, my main rhythm tone for BF is a Hudson Sidecar overdrive and then I stack a JHS Rat on top for my heaviest sound. The EHX small clone is warbling over pretty much every lead line on the new record and I’ve used the Alexander Space Race for some huge shoegazey Blade Runner-esque soundscapes.

What are the defining characteristics of Bison Face?

It’s heavily influenced by the 90’s alternative music that really sparked my passion for writing. You can hear a lot of different influences in my song writing, so I think moving forward it will be harder to pigeonhole us into one genre. But it’s a very guitar centric sound and always will be, with raw vocals and meaningful lyrics. I think whatever the characteristics, the band will always sound like me at that time in my life, it’s a reflection.

If you could have a DC or Marvel superhero as a member of your band, who would it be and what role would they have? Which band member would they have to fight to get the position and who would win?

That’s a great question! And very hard to answer as I’m a huge nerd and I’ll probably think about this way too in depth.

I’m going with The Winter Soldier on drums, he’s been through some absolute s**t so he could write some good dark lyrics; That Vibranium arm could produce some serious snare sound and if we’re talking MCU then I think Sebastian Stan already plays drums and seems like a sound dude. I think anyone with any actual powers might be a bit too overpowered to gel in a band. Tony Stark or Bruce Wayne would be good to have around just to fund everything for us. And I’m sure any superhero would beat any of us in a fight so there’s not much competition there.

What are you working on at the moment?

I’ve just finished writing a Bison Face album, and once the new single is out we’re going to head into the studio and record an EP first. Other than that, I’ve been writing some more stripped back acoustic music and just working on keeping myself sane and positive. I did start writing a book during lockdown but I lost all motivation for anything for a while, so once I’m back on track I have a few projects to finish. We’re playing our first show in almost 2 years on July 31st so we’ve just rehearsing hard and working on a new setlist for that.

Who are your favourite bands/artists/songwriters/musicians?

Of all time: Foo Fighters, Nirvana, Radiohead, Soundgarden, The Prodigy, Pixies, Elvis Costello, Sonic Youth, Bowie, Blur & My Bloody Valentine are the standouts in my musical family tree if you will. I’m probably forgetting a few more that I’ll kick myself over shortly

Recently I’ve fallen in love with the band Superbloom from NYC, they’re absolutely killing that 90s sound and bringing it back with a fresh take. The Teenage Wrist record that came out this year was utterly incredible. And Fangclub are forever the kings, killer hooks out of Dublin. Guitar music looks pretty damn strong in 2021.

Who is your favourite author, which is their best book and why?

That fluctuates almost daily! Recently I’ve been reading a lot of John Irving novels, and I absolutely loved ‘Last Night in Twisted River’. I don’t think I can really pick a favourite author, I’m a big fan of dystopian stories, so maybe ‘Slaughterhouse 5’ by Kurt Vonnegut would be my top pick at the moment. I’ve just started ‘Infinite Jest’ too.

When is your next single/album likely to be released? What is it called and where can we get it in our ears? Why should we buy it?

We’ve got a new single called ‘Private Joke Party’ coming out on the 30th July. It’ll be in all the usual places people stream or download their music. It’s a stepping stone for me personally, it’s a highly emotionally charged track; I wrote it when I was in the darkest place mentally and it sounds like someone giving up and an outpouring of hurt, I think recording it was the beginning of a healing process for me. Plus, it bridges the gap between the sound of our first two singles and the newer sound of the EP that we start recording in August. It’s got the rough edge of the first two with a more up tempo, punk energy.

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