FROM NOISE TO FOLK. TROY OUNCE IS COUNTRY MUSIC'S NEWEST OUTLAW
Written by Johnny Papan
TUESDAY IN JAPAN! FRONTMAN MAKES NOISE IN THE COUNTRYSIDE WITH HIS ALLEY CAT DRUNX
Troy Ounce, by nature, is a wildcard. His eccentricity jolts like thunder in an ocean, shocking all within his radius. In his noise-punk band, Tuesday in Japan!, he’s known to smash instruments, toss guitars in the air and strum violently until his hands are drenched in bloodshed.
Under his label, Rain Dragon Records, Ounce has released a plethora of albums with multiple projects of varying genres. Ounce admits his musical palate “changes with the seasons” though most of his acts are thread with a chaotic intensity. From electronic and party rock to noise bands and beyond, Ounce has now softened his tide, finding new solace in the countryside.
“I have always had great respect for country music,” Ounce says. “Growing up in Calgary, I felt like it was always in my blood but I didn't really harness that inspiration until recently. Winter of 2018 I had a really bad mushroom trip that affected me in a negative way. Shortly after, I found healing and happiness in outlaw country music and decided to move out to the country. It was out there that I started writing and recording country songs.”
Ounce’s country-inspired folk-punk band, Troy ounce and the Alley Cat Drunx is artistically influenced by outlaws like Hank Williams Jr. and the rebellious punk rocker, G.G. Allin. He feels that, in many ways, country is a spiritual predecessor to punk rock.
“There is an attitude within some of the old outlaw country heroes that relate to the kind of 'fuck you' attitude I appreciate in punk rock,” he explains.
This is true. Mike Judge, famously known for creating iconic cartoons like Beavis and Butthead and King of the Hill, made an animated documentary-series called Tales From the Tour Bus, in which he profiles the wildest, craziest and most bizarre characters in music history. Season one found Judge exploring the roots of outlaw country.
Stories of violent drug benders, drunken gun-fights and other lawless acts were committed by country legends such as Waylon Jennings, Billy Joe Shaver, Jerry Lee Lewis and, the most rebellious albeit least known, Blaze Foley. Their outlandish behaviours, by today’s standards, would be considered punk as fuck.
In 2019, Troy Ounce and the Alley Cat Drunx released their debut record, a compilation four years in the making aptly titled 2015-2019. The record was spearheaded by the opening track, “Skippin’ Stones”.
“Skippin' Stones was the first song I wrote when I moved out to the country,” Ounce recalls. “At the time I felt like I was crazy for even trying to give music another go. Things had not been going so well so I wrote [the song] about a delusional gold miner that, no matter his failures and shortcomings, still goes back and gives it another shot.”
Not long after their debut release, Troy Ounce and the Alley Cat Drunx released their self-titled follow up. The album’s first track, “Cloudy Day Glow” is a middle finger to the critics.
“‘Cloudy Day Glow’ is a reminder to myself to not let scumbag critics affect me or my art in any way and a reminder to them that I am going to prove them wrong.”
Ounce seems to write these sombre songs from a place of optimism. Despite the occasional setback, he continues to push forward through his own art therapy.
“Each song is different,” Ounce concludes. “Some songs like 'I'm Not Myself' and ‘Old Friend' are about personal stories that have a lot of meaning to me. Songs like 'Horse Fly' are just fictional tales that I think are funny. I'd say the majority of songs are about real-life events as it's easiest for me to write about what I have lived but every now and then I like to write a song that has no connection to me.”
Troy Ounce and the Alley Cat Drunx play the Blarney Stone on Friday, March 13. [Event]