by Christine Leonard
Good fences make good neighbours, but if you’ve walked down the rambling alleys of Brentwood, Calgary in the past two decades, you might have caught drift of a hidden skateboard ramp and the band that dwells nearby like an ear-blasting company of trolls.
So the story goes, but no one knows the legend of this secret suburban shred-spot better than Devin “Darty” Purdy, aka lead guitarist to Calgary’s preeminent psych-metal outfit, Chron Goblin.
“The Brentwood Ramp, which has consumed the souls of many missed tricks, was built in 1997 by the City of Calgary and acquired by the Goblins in 2006,” says Purdy. “It was the main feature for many parties and band photo shoots and provided a great mental break from jamming. Unfortunately, termites got the best of it and we had to take it down this year, but its memory lives on!”
Purdy’s generosity in sharing his good fortune and square footage made the ramp a destination for members of Calgary’s skateboarding and indie music scene, just as his basement became the rehearsal room of choice for bandmates vocalist Josh Sandulak, drummer Brett Whittingham and bassist Richard Hepp.
“It formed a hub for weekly backyard skate sessions, barbecues and basement jamming. So many memories of watching some of Calgary’s finest skating the hell out of the ramp well past dark, wheels clacking and trucks grinding, people hollering and dropping off the garage roof into the ramp,” Whittingham says reminiscing. “The band photo in our album Life for the Living is an awesome shot of us sprawled out on a couch in the middle of the ramp with a million beer cans strewn everywhere. Also, those nasty maggots growing in the recycling!”
It’s enough to bring tears to your eyes. Listening to the group’s brand new release, Here Before, it’s hard to believe that six years have passed since that sofa-king-cool snap was taken of the ambitious young punks with their desert-rock-meets-thrash dreams. Having furthered the arc of their ascent with 2015’s Backwater, Chron Goblin are accustomed to challenging themselves to master new techniques, but it’s their interpersonal skills that have truly elevated their game.
“I think the only way we’ve gotten to that 10-year mark is by evolving our relationship as friends and as bandmates in terms of our communication and being crazy honest with each other. Probably more honest than we are with anyone else in our lives. That in itself has caused us all to reflect more deeply on who we are as people and what’s led to a maturing of our band,” says Sandulak.
Wild at heart, but growing wiser by the minute, Here Before delivers exhilarating maneuvers that come close to the thrill of pulling off rad stunts on the old Brentwood Ramp, but this round comes without the consequence of bruised up shins and beer can maggots.
Chron Goblin Tour Dates:
Thursday, Oct. 10
Owl Acoustic Lounge (Lethbridge)
Friday, Oct. 11
The Palomino Smokehouse (Calgary)
Friday, Oct. 18
Hard Luck (Toronto)
Friday, Oct. 25