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“We Love To Play, That's When We're Happiest”- Atomic Yeti’s Stoner Rock Rampage

By Will Yannacoulias

Photo courtesy of Atomic Yeti

Rooted in the dark heavy groove of late seventies legends like Motörhead and Black Sabbath, Saskatoon’s Atomic Yeti inject 80’s metal and punk influences throughout their fuzzy, driving brand of desert stoner rock. Emerging from their former band Black Hell Oil, singer/guitarist Richard Boucher and drummer Damien McCullough brought in bassist Clay Gelsinger to complete their lineup in 2020 and went straight to work writing and recording, releasing their self titled debut last month. NSMZ spoke with Boucher about The Yeti, the album and what's next- enjoy!

Boucher and McCullough have been longtime bandmates, first collaborating in the crossover punk/thrash band Cease & Desist before forming Black Hell Oil with founder Chad Mason in 2012. Black Hell Oil brought the sludgy heavy goodness for a decade, but did not survive the inactivity of the pandemic. Boucher switched to guitar, handed bass duties off to longtime friend Gelsinger and began in early spring 2022 to write new songs. “I don’t know how to make a guitar player play what I hear in my head" Boucher shared, "so I made the switch.”

Boucher cites a broad swath of heavy, guitar driven influences that have helped shape Atomic Yeti's sound. "Lots of 70’s rock and 80’s metal" he mused. "I grew up on a steady diet of Kiss, Black Sabbath, Motley Crüe, Motörhead. We all listened to Judas Priest and we're all huge Raven fans. Damian listens to a lot of punk and heavy music, and Clay's knowledge of thrash metal is encyclopedic. Modern music too, I'm constantly seeking out and listening to new music. We’re all big into Sasquatch and Red Fang. Last year we went out to Electric Highway and saw this band from Vancouver, La Chinga, that we've become huge fans of- we're all about finding new stuff." Having played for so many years with Black Hell Oil begged the question if that influence comes through at all. "Well 2/3 of Black Hell Oil is in Atomic Yeti so it's natural that there's some comparison- especially in the first couple songs we wrote. The newer songs we've written are pulling influences more from bands like Sasquatch or maybe more of an 80's vibe. I think when I first started writing I was pushing myself into a genre- now we just go with what comes naturally."

Atomic Yeti's debut hit streaming services last month, a six-track slab of fuzzy guitars and driving drum grooves that would be right at home on the eight track player of a sci-fi-mural-painted Chevy van. The album was self produced, a process which was simultaneously familiar and new for Boucher. "One of the things I went to school for was recording" he explained, "so when the time came I rented and purchased some stuff and put what I could remember to work. I've recorded a couple bands in the past but this is the best recording I've done."

With the album out and gigs starting to be announced, Boucher is excited about the band's future and patiently focused on their upcoming plans: "Just play, and see what happens- we're a band that loves to play, that's when we're happiest. We've written some new tunes that I feel are even more of who we are, every band evolves as you write and we're super excited to put this new stuff out there." Atomic Yeti's self titled debut is available on all streaming services. The next Yeti sighting is planned for Saturday January 20 at the Black Cat Tavern with Psycho Hillbillees and Dirty Sanchez Orchestra.

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