Bison’s James Farwell talks about the next generation, paying your dues, and his black metal baby


The Bison family grew by one last December with the birth of baby George James Lee Farwell. The band went on hiatus for the little bison’s arrival, but the time is nigh to hit the stage again. Bison recently announced their supporting spot for one of 3 Inches of Blood’s final shows in November, but they will be headlining before then, on August 7 at The Hindenburg.

It is the first weekend in June. The sun is shining, the street is busy, and the beer is cold. I’m outside at Hyde Restaurant on Main St. to meet James Farwell, guitarist and vocalist of Bison. He arrives on his bicycle, guitar strapped to his back.

Vancouver Weekly: Big plans today?

James Farwell: Saturday’s my band practice day, so I jam with two bands. So, I start at 2:30, and finish at about 11.

VW: Is that B.E.E.Z.* you’re kicking around with?

JF: Ha, B.E.E.Z. was our W.A.S.P. cover band for a brief moment, which… might be revisited again if somebody needs a W.A.S.P. cover band for a benefit show or something. No, I have a pop-punk band that I’m working on with some friends. That’s first, and then Bison after that.

VW: So, you guys are coming up on your ten-year anniversary next year.

JF: Yes! Next year will be our ten-year.

VW: Pushing a decade. How’s the Bison experience different today than from day 1, say?

JF: It’s just so much more relaxing.

VW: Yeah? Really?

JF: Yeah. It’s more relaxing, it’s more focused, and it’s more, um… enjoyable. It’s more intended for… comfort.

VW: … as opposed to…?

JF: … as opposed to… bleeding yourself dry, in every way possible, so… At the time, that was fun, because it was important, and it was good work that needed to be done, and we were more than happy to do it. As the years go by – thank you very much [to our server as she sets down his pilsner] – as the years go by, you know, you kinda decide whether you wanna live like that, or if you want to have a, kind of, more grounded and meaningful life, I’m gonna say. No disrespect to artists that slave away for that, I mean, that’s commendable. I just don’t have it in me. I want a family; I want my friends to be a part of my life.

VW: Sound-wise, it doesn’t seem like an edge has been lost or anything, though.

JF: Oh, god no. I still love where it comes from. You know, my priorities have shifted but I’m still the same angry, hateful person I was. It’s just a little bit more pointed, and it’s a little bit more… I have to take care of someone else now, and that’s also very important to me. I call those early years my “Peter Panning years”, and I had a great time, and I was… wild and crazy and it was awesome, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. But I wanna be one of those fortunate enough to have both. I want it all, so I mean, I’m trying to do it all.