Travelin’ Punk: Edmonton band Slates play Sunstroke Music Festival

From Newfoundland to Jamaica, Sarajevo to Whitehorse, traveling punk rockers Slates are spreading their message and their music.

Hailing from Edmonton, Slates will be bringing their signature fiery, raw, yet melodic style of punk rock to the 2013 Sunstroke Music Festival.

“In the studio, we joke about calling our sound stress-rock,” says drummer Dallas Thompson, “But I think at the heart of it, we’re a punk rock band, though our music is nowhere near as polished as the commercial stuff the industry is trying to label punk these days.

“We all grew up with punk rock; it’s just in our veins.”

Thompson was raised in Whitehorse, but it’s been a while since he last played here with S.O.L., his punk band at the time.

“I haven’t played there with a band since probably ’99,” he says. “It’ll be fun to play the old stomping grounds.”

Slates has two full-length albums and four seven-inch records under their belts since their formation in 2008.

For their latest album, Prairie Fires, they toured across Canada, coast to coast. Before that, they spent a month in 2011 touring a dozen countries around eastern Europe.

“We even managed to get into Bosnia and played a show in Sarajevo, which was pretty wild because we basically had to bribe our way into the country,” says Thompson.

Croatia, Switzerland and Slovenia are some of their other destinations, all which are documented in a book that will be for sale at their Whitehorse performance, along with recordings and merchandise.

“We love playing live, we love meeting people, we love traveling around,” he says of their extensive tour schedule. “The best way you can learn about the world is by travelling around, and we kind of have the luxury of being able to do it and play music at the same time.”

The Sunstroke Festival will be Slates’ last performance before they head to StudioChicago in July to record their third full-length album with Steve Albini, who worked with Nirvana and The Pixies.

“By the time we play Sunstroke, we’ll probably have some new stuff ready to go, and we’ll be playing a lot of the old stuff as well,” says Thompson.

He has high hopes for their Whitehorse show, explaining that the more out-of-the-way shows are often the most fun.

“A lot of the time, when you play the bigger cities that have a lot of bands coming through every single day, people kind of get used to it, they become numb to it and it’s just kind of the same thing every day,” he says. “When places are hard to get to, the shows are just a little more fun, you know? It’s nice to go to places where people aren’t overexposed, I guess. We played a couple of weeks in Cuba in 2010… it was one of the first times a punk rock band from North America had ever toured the island, and the shows were wild… people are aching for some live [punk] music, and of course we love to give it to them.”

Thompson says the band is looking forward to sharing their love of live music and punk rock with his hometown.

“I remember loving the scene up there, back in the day,” he says, “I’m hoping that there’s still that excitement.”

Check out Slates when they play the Sunstroke Music Festival at 7:50 p.m. on Friday, June 21and at 11:10 p.m. on Saturday, June 22.

Other hot acts include The Whiskeydicks, Burning Love, Bob Log III and Sarah MacDougall.

Tickets for the Sunstroke Music Festival are available in advance at Triple J’s Music Café in Whitehorse.

Willow Gamberg is a former What’s Up Yukon intern who writes about music and other arts-related topics.

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