How to Kill a Buffalo

The Buffalo Killers stampede into Dayton on December 11

By Keith Bange

Buffalo Killers

Rock and roll isn’t what it used to be. These words have been muttered out of the none-too-satisfied mouths of dissidents over the last decade or so, as a more modern variation of the genre has come to front.  The music is changing, sounds are evolving, bands are trying new things, and doing whatever they can in order to stake their claim in this strange musical gold rush that is happening just beneath our feet.

But what of the bands that don’t exhaust themselves trying to reinvent a type of music that they never thought to have gone sour? What of an act, that instead of trying to fix something that isn’t broken or reshape it into something that they think will be more appealing, simply just aims to do it right.

The Buffalo Killers, of Cincinnati are finding out that it just may pay off.

Over the last two years, their homegrown, grassroots sound has been coursing itself through the veins of the old heart of rock and roll and making a very large mark for them as up-and-comers in the rock and roll revival that has been coming to surface.

A three-piece consisting of brothers Zach and Andrew Gabbard and long-time friend Joseph Sebaali, they played together in a band called Thee Shams, also out of Cincinnati, starting in 2001. After years of touring and putting out several records with different labels, they dissolved in 2005, and quickly after that, the Gabbard brothers recruited Sebaali, who played keyboard for Thee Shams, to play drums with them and the Buffalo Killers was born.

Things took off seemingly very rapidly for the Buffalo Killers due to backbreaking work at lightning-fast speed, right out of the gate. In 2006, they ripped through Ohio and surrounding areas, playing gig after gig and began to build a quick following.

Shortly after touring, they independently produced a five-song demo, reeling it out to several record labels. After a few months, they received a very strong bite from Alive Records out of Los Angeles. The five original songs on the demo were released as-is, along with five new songs quickly recorded to accompany them, as the self-titled “Buffalo Killers, in October 2006. With the release of their self-titled album making the rounds, it fell into the hands of Black Crowes frontman Chris Robinson, who subsequently invited them to open for the Crowes on a stint of two years of on and off touring. This jump from playing small clubs and bars, to large venues was a monumental step for the trio and was the great flash that lit the flame that continues to burn very brightly today.

It was while on tour with the Black Crowes that they began conceptualizing and writing songs for their next record. They entered the studio, with long-time musical accomplice Dan Auerbach as producer, to record the album and try to expand on the homegrown rock and roll sentiment that had worked for them in the past.

Auerbach, guitarist and vocalist for the Black Keys, had worked with the three in the past, when Thee Shams opened for the Black Keys on a string of dates. Zach Gabbard, bassist and vocalist for the Buffalo Killers said of the experience, “It was a blast.”

“Dan [Auerbach] got down to business in the studio, he is a very diligent worker, and we hammered the record out in just over two weeks and that was that,” Gabbard said. The much-anticipated release of their sophomore effort quickly followed a stint of tour dates with the Black Keys, and in July 2008, “Let it Ride” was unveiled.

Since then, the band has been touring on and off, headlining shows to promote their album and again had the opportunity to support the Black Crowes on a series of dates, which they graciously accepted. The band very recently released a holiday-themed free download entitled “Secret Santa,” which is available on their website. They also made the contribution of two tracks to a recently-released Eddie Hinton tribute album.

The members of the Buffalo Killers have been attending shows, and playing shows at Canal Street Tavern for several years now and on the experience, Zach Gabbard elaborates “It’s a cool venue, we’ve always enjoyed coming to Dayton to play shows and every time we come back, the welcome seems to be a bit warmer.”

The Buffalo Killers are playing at Canal Street Tavern on December 11th, with local blues-rock outfit the White Soots, who have been making strides themselves in the Dayton music scene over the last year.

This event is doubling as a food drive for the Dayton Food Bank and they will be accepting donations in the form of non-perishable goods at the door. So, not only can you come out and enjoy a night of earnest ground-rattling rock and roll for practically pocket change; you can also help support the community and lend a hand to a very good cause.

The Buffalo Killers will play Dec. 11 at Canal Street Tavern with the White Soots opening. Tickets are $6 and the doors open at 8:00 p.m. Show starts at 9:30 p.m. The band will be accepting donations of non-perishable foods items on behalf on The Food Bank of Dayton.

Reach DCP freelance writer Keith Bange at contactus@daytoncitypaper.com

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