Brandy Bones and Big John Bates perform at the Queen's on Canada Day.

Brandy Bones and Big John Bates perform at the Queen's on Canada Day.

Stage antics

Big John Bates returns to Nanaimo with a quartet playing more instruments in a much darker style of music

The latest incarnation of Big John Bates gets its first test on the stage at the Queen’s on Canada Day.

The Vancouver-based singer and guitar player is touring with some old friends and some new ones, with some new songs and an overall new feel.

“I don’t think a band can really figure itself out until they get up on stage in front of people,” Bates said. “It’s all the little details.”

The last time Big John Bates and his crew hit the stage at the Queen’s they were flanked by burlesque dancers The Voodoo Dollz.

“It’s been awhile – about 150 shows ago,” Bates said.

The burlesque girls added an extra draw to the show but restricted the band’s freedom somewhat. Costume changes had to be factored into set lists, which made adjustments harder to do.

So the focus went back to the band and the music, with Brandy Bones on bass and cello, JT Massacre on percussion – both of whom Bates toured with extensively in the past. The new girl on tuba and keyboards they simply call Jah.

“This will be one of the first shows as a four piece,” Bates said.

Cello, tuba and keyboards could mean a softening of Bates’s reputation, established as singer for metal band Annihilator and the punk-abilly sound of the past 10 years.

Not a chance.

“It’s a lot darker,” Bates said of the new music, which can be sampled on the six-track disk Headless Fowl, a precursor to the band’s full-length album to be released in the fall.

“It’s a lot more intense – it’s got a lot of depth to it.”

As part of that expansion of creativity, Bones picks up singing duties on some of the songs and the musicians bring more of the variety from the album to the stage, hence the tuba, keyboards and cello.

“I’m always inspired by different things,” Bates said. “It’s part of my problem.”

After laying down the tracks on Headless Fowl, the band – a trio at the time – went on tour with Murder by Death. Touring is what Bates does relentlessly, logging hundreds of shows across North America and Europe every year.

The Nanaimo gig will be one of three on Vancouver Island and the first as a quartet rather than a trio.

The music kicks off at 9 p.m. Tickets are available at the door.

For more information, please visit

Just Posted

An event on the lawn of the B.C. legislature in Victoria on Tuesday to remember the 215 children whose remains were confirmed buried in unmarked graves outside a Kamloops residential school. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Canada’s racist systems cannot ever be forgiven

Teen letter writer from Nunavut calls for truth and reconciliation

Nanaimo is the first city in Canada to subscribe to the Chonolog environment photo-monitoring system, which allow residents to contribute photos of habitat restoration projects that are converted to time lapse sequences showing environmental changes. (Chris Bush/ News Bulletin)
Nanaimo residents invited to be citizen scientists by sharing habitat restoration photos

Nanaimo first city in Canada to sign up for Chronolog environment photo monitoring service

Regional District of Nanaimo is seeking input from the public for its transit redevelopment strategy. (News Bulletin file)
Public input sought as RDN works on transit redevelopment strategy

RDN wants to know where people want bus stops, shelters and pedestrian and cycling connections

Douglas Holmes, current Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District chief administrative officer, is set to take on that position at the Regional District of Nanaimo come late August. (Submitted photo)
Regional District of Nanaimo’s next CAO keen to work on building partnerships

Douglas Holmes to take over top administrator role with RDN this summer

(PQB News file photo)
Fireworks report highlights enforcement challenges for Regional District of Nanaimo

Director: ‘I just think it’s wasting everybody’s time’

Members of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Marine Mammal Response Program rescued an adult humpback what that was entangled in commercial fishing gear in the waters off of Entrance Island on Thursday, June 10. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Response Program)
Rescuers free humpback ‘anchored’ down by prawn traps near Nanaimo

Department of Fisheries and Oceans responders spend hours untangling whale

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Most Read