Volume 93, Issue 49

Thursday, November 25, 1999


Chown still kicking around on his old Stompin' Grounds

Hefner wages war on life, love and music

Tractor runs just like a Deere

Tractor runs just like a Deere

Gazette file photo
SETTLE DOWN LADIES... THEY'RE ALL TAKEN. Captain Tractor bring their adorable selves to the Embassy tomorrow night.

By Sara Martel
Gazette Staff

After only a few moments on the phone with band member Brock Skywalker, with sounds of the Playdium ringing in the background and his voice still jovial from an afternoon of video games, it becomes quite clear that Captain Tractor is not concerned with making a name for themselves.

While the Edmonton-based band certainly would enjoy and deserve recognition, they aren't willing to join the countless hordes of independent bands jockeying for a position of distinction, by neatly packaging their sound in an instantly recognizable and noticeably stagnant style. With their constantly evolving eclectic sound, Captain Tractor naturally steps out of this race.

Skywalker, who brings vocals, accordion, flute, whistles, harmonica and guitar to the Captain Tractor buffet, suggests the band's perpetual change is a positive quality that shouldn't distinguish them from any other group. "I think music always has to evolve. Any band who doesn't change their direction slightly is a band that won't be happy for very long. It's like anything in life. I can't imagine doing anything exactly the same for your entire life. It would be quite deadening, if that's a word. I'm just making stuff up," he snickers.

What Skywalker does think makes them unique, is their impressive move from a traditional Celtic cover ensemble, to a long-standing, original band with a well reputed live show, their own label and distributing company, spanning from Canada to the U.S. to New Zealand. "We've been doing this full-time for five years now without day jobs – I think that distinguishes us more than anything," he suggests. "Along with the fact that we play rock 'n' roll with flutes and accordians and stuff. It's ground that was broken by the likes of Spirit of the West, but we're trying to pick it up and take it a bit further."

While the band's ambitions to reap an even greater harvest from grounds previously tilled by Celtic engineers now appears within reach, the Captain Tractor effort didn't exactly begin on such a promising note. The meeting of the band members, hailing anywhere from Nova Scotia to Alberta, was actually a drunken encounter.

"We all sort of met through college in Edmonton at the Fringe Festival. One night, I was really sick and I downed an awful lot of cough syrup, then decided I'd go for some beers and that's actually not a good idea," he laughs. "I was walking around the beer tent sitting down with everybody and hugging everybody and just having a great time. I sat down with these guys I had met through some other friends and they said 'Hey, you play lots of instruments, you want to start a band?' and I said, 'Oh sure, that sounds great,'" he explains, mimicking his own drunken slur.

Shortly after, they recorded their first album, Land, under the name Captain Tractor – a moniker with roots in another night of inebriation. The end result of this fortuitous meeting is a band continually tweaking their sound by being open to try everything at least once. With a mandate this daring, listeners are guaranteed an original pop-Celtic-rock-punk-folk melange that will keep them on their toes.

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Copyright The Gazette 1999