Refreshing Riff Rock

The members of Whitehorse’s newest band, Abscess of the Dog (AOTD), sit in a comfortable Riverdale living room and drink scotch. Matt Larsen, the band’s drummer, is a new father, and that is cause for celebration.

Larsen, Lars Jessup and Kinden Kosick were friends long before they were ever bandmates.

Jessup and Larsen are both born-and-raised Yukoners. They grew up living just down the street from one another. “We’ve been friends since the beginning of time,” says Larsen dryly.

Kosick is from Fort St. John, B.C. The three of them convened on the campus of UNBC in Prince George about a decade ago, and the friendship has brought all three up north after graduation.

“We basically formed the band as an excuse to hang out more,” says Jessup, the lead singer. The other two nod in agreement.

Jessup continues: “One Thanksgiving (2008) we just got drunk and started to play together and that was the start of it.”

It’s this attitude that makes AOTD refreshing. They love their music, but they also have a sense of humour about the whole enterprise. Their band’s name, for example, is in honour of a large abscess on the side of Jessup’s dog’s face. “It was the size of a golf ball,” he reports.

However, ask them about what style of music they play and the conversation turns a bit more serious. They struggle to explain their sound. “We sort of play Riff Rock,” says Kosick, the bassist.

“I guess it’s sort of heavy metal, but slowed down,” adds Jessup. What becomes clear is that like most bands, AOTD resists the sorts of classifications that music critics love to bestow.

They are a little bit more definite about their musical influences. “The three big ones would be Neil Young, Kyuss and Bad Religion,” says Jessup.

Much like their influences, their songwriting process also seems to be a bit piecemeal. “Lars usually starts out writing and then I toss my stuff in there,” says Kosick.

On March 26, AOTD got on stage for the first time ever. They played before a packed and friendly crowd in The Boiler Room for an hour. Kosick’s parents made a surprise trip to Whitehorse to see their son in action. “They just showed up in my office that morning,” he says.

As far as the boys are concerned, the gig was an unqualified success. “I’m so hooked, it’s not even funny,” says Kosick about his initial live performance. “The high you get from playing is so cool.”

“I got a lot of beer bought for me that night,” adds Jessup with a smirk.

This newfound success has forced the three bandmates to re-evaluate how they see themselves. “I’ve never really thought of myself as a creative person, but now I have to come to terms with that,” says Jessup.

However, if you’re forced to be a creative person, you could do a lot worse than live in the Yukon. “The Yukon is better than anywhere else I’ve ever lived,” says Larsen, who seems content to be “the quiet one”.

Jessup agrees, and adds, “There is lots of opportunity for self-contemplation up here.”

There is also a lot of opportunity for local musicians, so the members of AOTD are cautiously optimistic about their future. “We want to record a full-length album,” says Kosick.

“And we want to keep playing a lot of live shows,” adds Jessup. “We may not be a good band, but we are a real band.”

This last example of self-depreciation elicits a good belly laugh from all three. Regardless of the success Abscess of the Dog may have in the future, the friendships seem to be in good shape.

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