Those Who Fart Together, Make Art Together.... A Junior Battles Interview!
So how's life on Paper & Plastic?
Sam: It's good! Vinnie is awesome and Susanna who is like the label manager there is like super super helpful. Apparently our vinyl just went in to be pressed today I was told. So hopefully we'll have vinyl soon! But yeah everything's been great, it's been kind of the perfect place for us just because it's the right size and we're the right size, it's kind of the right amount of support that a band like us needs at this point. It's been perfect really!
Did you know that Vinnie was interested in you guys before you got the call?
Sam: No, actually, it was awesome because the first time we played Fest which was like 2 years ago we had this long 16 hour drive to one of our shows and the whole drive it was me and Aaron were talking about all the great labels we would want to be on because we were just feeling so excited for that weekend and the shows had been great and we had been hanging out with all of our friends and felt super cool about ourselves haha, and yeah Paper & Plastic came up and at this point we had never talked to Vinnie and had no contact with anyone at the label and literally got home and a day later had a myspace message from Vinnie - which makes it sound like I'm telling this story in the 1800's .. 'and then he sent a telegram, and I sent one back'! - so yeah we just kind of stayed in touch after that and when it came time to do the full length I emailed him and was like 'hey we really want to do this do you want to put it out' and he said 'yeah, call me'. So it was more like HE got the call, I got the myspace message and he got the call! Lucky him!
Justin: It'd be interesting to hear the flip side of that.
Sam: haha yeah, 'what was it like to get the call from Junior Battles Vinnie?!'... 'well, frankly Sam talks too much.'
If I ever get the chance to interview him that will be my first question..
Sam: Yeah, ask him what it was like to get the call from Junior Battles... and ask him if I talk too much!
How awesome was it that Brendan Kelly wrote your biography!?
Justin: How did that even come to be?
Sam: That was through Vinnie! We were talking with Vinnie and Eddie who runs our publicity in the states and I didn't want to write our bio which I had sort of attempted to do before and so Vinnie was like 'why don't we get Brendan to do it' because he had been doing his blog for a while and his writing has gotten really sharp and sort of cool and interesting and so he just emailed him and asked him to do it and I'm sure you know he PAID him, haha, he was presumably fairly compensated for his work but like for me when we started this band the first EP that we wrote was like, if I'm being honest now in hindsight, pretty much just like me trying to write Lawrence Arms songs because it was back and forth between me and Aaron singing and it's all those same chords with a capo ... Lawrence Arms may not use a capo but they're really super Lawrence Arm'sy just me sitting in my shitty apartment trying to learn how to play "Oh! Calcutta" and then just being like 'i can fucking do this' .... So yeah that was like coming full circle as one of the cool things about the band because you have this thing where it's like shit I grew up listening to Less Than Jake and now Vinnie emails me and he's putting out this record... and I grew up listening to the Lawrence Arms and now Brendan Kelly is writing these presumably nice things about my band because he's being paid to do so BUT still I won't let that diminish it!
Do you guys get star struck at all when you talk to or play with these bands you grew up listening to?
Sam: Well, part of my job is to interview bands and talking to bands a lot so after running a zine for a couple years I really stopped idolizing people as much as like just sort of realizing that they are all kind of shitty like me! At the same time we actually met Brendan when we were playing Pouzza Fest in Montreal and that dude I still think is like cool as shit and he kind of intimidates me.... but it's also because he's really tall and extremely tanned!
Justin: He's healthy!
Sam: He's really healthy! But it's weird because he's from Chicago, so that makes me think that he's...
Sam: Haha!! That he's vegan! Does that happen?
Justin: That's just like jaundice setting in, the skin tone from lack of meat..
Sam: If you're vegan you just get tanned all the time!
Justin: It's kind of like being a vampire!!
Sam: Yeah, sort of... right? That's like veganism!
Justin: Most of the time we meet these people in high alcohol consumption situations which always levels the playing field because you're like 'i don't care at all' and they're also not nearly as sharp as they often would be and so you're just like a couple of dudes wasted yelling over something and barely hearing each other... that makes it really easy.
Sam: I especially tend to get really giddy and enthused with the people I get to meet.. like again I remember that first Fest we played where I got introduced to Brian who runs Kiss of Death records and it's not like Brian is a celebrity he's just a dude who runs an audio/visual company in Tampa Bay but I was like 'HOLY SHIT KISS OF DEATH RECORDS, YOU PUT OUT ALL MY FAVOURITE RECORDS MAN!' and then we got to put out a split on Kiss of Death records and so at the same time you're sort of de-mystifying the process you also still maintain an almost adolescent enthusiasm for what's happening and a real child-like wonder that these people give a shit about you. At least that's how I feel!
Justin: That's pretty accurate!
Joel: It's good.
'It's good!' hahaha nice contribution!
Joel: hahaha Sam said everything that could have been said!
Sam: I'm really full of great words! haha we're on our group interview game right now.
Justin: Joel and I are here for colour!
So how did you get the impressive guests you have on the album... Damien, Franz, Matt etc...
Justin: They're all just people we met along the way. We played a couple shows with Franz, same with Matt... and Damien just knows everybody in Toronto so when it came time we just wanted to bring people on who would bring something... like Joel doesn't play the accordion as far as any of us know, or like the banjo, or he doesn't scream very well so we just put it out there to people we're sorta half friends with that we thought would be down for doing something on the record and everyone we asked was like 'yeah for sure' and we were like 'really!?... you've heard the band before!?!' .. it was awesome!
Joel: Damien was pretty fun to hang out with that day too, driving him to the studio, picking him up from..... what was he doing?
Justin: He was testing beef? No, pork, he was at some pork testing err sampling thing...
Joel: It was like an institutional test place where they test new hams... new types of hams... so he was obviously in a great mood.
Sam: He was full of ham! You can hear that in his tone...
Justin: It's crazy seeing somebody like that do this kind of singing (screaming) but be remarkably professional about it, go in and do a take and be like 'how was that, was that like too... , I might like do a long scream this time, let it run...' and we'd do just take after take and he'd always ask 'is that cool' 'what if I did this..'
Joel: Yeah he was really professional about his instrument.
Sam: You can see why he's like.... awesome.
Justin: Mostly because he takes his clothes off.
Sam: It has everything to do with that.
Justin: We were all naked for it.... because he was and to make him comfortable... you have to make it a safe environment for something like that.
Sam: And then we were all smashing pint glasses on our heads...
Justin: We could not drive home after that.... we were all hospitalized.
Sam: That's why the record took so long.
Sam, your vocals are compared to Fall Out Boy a lot and you don't like it at all...
Justin: Money, the money maker!!! Sam is the money maker!!!
Have you guys been compared to any other bands that you just hate in the broad world of pop punk?
Justin: It's mostly Fall Out Boy, it's just ALWAYS Fall Out Boy is the thing.
Sam: And you know it's not even like I have a problem with Fall Out Boy but I didn't listen to them like at ALL growing up and I just don't get it. I think it bothers me only because I think it's really lazy ... I think people hear a pop punk band and they hear someone singing like not affected by them smoking cigarettes since they were 8 years old and it's immediately like 'ah dude sounds like Patrick Stump' and it's like no they're just the most successful band that does that vocally. And it's really funny because Justin had even less familiarity than me with FOB and one day we were driving to a show and the new Patrick Stump song came on the radio and Aaron turned it up and was like 'hey Justin this is Patrick Stump, this is the guy people say that Sam sounds like' and I don't know if you've heard the new Patrick Stump song..
Justin: It's awesome for one thing!
Sam: It's awesome, but it's like out there Michael Jackson, all falsetto... or Justin Timberlake and Justin just started laughing and is like 'oh this sounds NOTHING like Sam'
Justin: it's kind of insane, you guys don't have similar voices at all I really think it's just the clean vocal thing.
Sam: the defining aspect of his voice is like that vibrato thing which I don't do ANY of... so it's not.... again, it's like getting compared to a band that millions of people like and that like own tigers and multiple cars is certainly not a bad thing -
Justin: it's very encouraging!
Sam: Yeah! but it's like when people are like 'oh you sound like Alkaline Trio' and I'm like 'great, awesome'... but like I listen to so much Alkaline Trio and I don't think I sound like Matt Skiba but I definitely like.. steal shit from him... haha. There's nothing that anybody has said about our band in terms of comparisons that have really bothered me and the Fall Out Boy thing wouldn't bother me if it wasn't so specifically directed at ME.
Justin: Yeah it's always Sam. The only time the FOB thing bothers me is when we're sitting in a hotel room somewhere because our van is so fucked and we're so broke and can't fix anything and can't get anywhere and you read a review like that and you're thinking 'BUT WHERE'S THE MONEY!!! WHERE'S THE FALL OUT BOY MONEY THEN, TELL ME THAT! Why can't we afford a van that works!?' I guarantee you they've never been stuck in a hotel...
Sam: Never! Not with that smooth voice!
Justin:They could sing their way home!
Were you guys big Ergs! fans? You played with them before they broke up which is fucking awesome..
Sam: I really like The Ergs!
Justin: I don't know much of them personally.
Joel: I'm sort of out of the loop with The Ergs!
Sam: That was one of our really early shows actually! I remember that show really well actually because at the time I was playing a $100 guitar and like a $100 amp and it was the first show I played with that amp and I had just graduated from the Marshall practice amp that I used at our very first show and my girlfriends guitar so I actually had my own guitar and my own amp that combined cost about $200 and it sounded like fucking shit and I broke a string and it was horrible and I got off stage and two people were like 'that was a pretty good set, I reeeeally like your guitar tone'... and I was like '...whaat?' Do you remember that?
Justin: Yeah, that kind of used to happen all the time but nobody ever talks about your guitar tone now..
Sam: No, now that I have $1000+ equipment nobody says anything... except when it's broken! I need to get new shit apparently because people have been commenting on my guitar tone the last couple shows and I'm not using my head... so apparently my stuff is shit!
Justin: I don't even think I saw them play that night because I was courting a lady friend at the time and so I was in the park down the street trying to make up the nerve for a kiss... which I don't believe I got.
Sam: Yeah, actually I didn't see much of The Ergs! show because you snuck off to try to kiss... a lady... and myself and Ashley and Aaron and Joel got p'zone's and then we started following The Make Out Trail which consists of looking for the friend you know is trying to make out going *sings* 'make out trail, make out trail, we're all on the make out trail' and you do this until you see them then you hide out behind trees and giggle. So I did that a lot during that Ergs show!
So Idle Ages was voted #1 on punknews.org as 'Your Favourite Records From August' apparently... how'd it feel to beat out Copyrights, NOFX, Hot Water Music, Black Lips...?
Justin: I didn't even know our album came out in August!
Sam: It just was so good in August... much better in August than it was in June!
Justin: It just needed some time to set I guess! It's more of an end-of-summer, nostalgic album...
Joel: It's wistful!
Sam: I think it's good because we are soooo much better than those bands! To finally have the internet realize that...
Justin: I would describe it as justice! Justice served!
Sam: It's kind of like the world can't always be perfect, so because our record was number one they're going to kill an innocent man in Georgia tonight is sort of what we're getting at.... justice and fate are fickle. I don't know, it's cool! It's weird because those things don't.... always translate... to anything. And that's what's so bizarre about them.
Justin: They don't translate to Fall Out Boy money!
Sam: No! It's not like that would happen and immediately somebody would cut us a cheque so we were able to fix the leak in the van that is currently pouring water all over the back seats... you know. I think those things are really really cool and I guess for us it translates into people actually liking our band and coming to see us when we're on tour in the fall. They're like thats amazing and my mom gets a google alert about that and it justifies all the dumb shit that she thinks that I do.
You guys did something called a Weekend Warrior tour where you went and played shows only on the weekend, do you think that was more exhausting to have to work during the week then tour as opposed to doing one full out tour at one time?
Justin: It was sort of in the middle just because it's tough to get 2 weeks off just out of your life to be able to take off on the road and by the end of 2 weeks you're so run ragged by just sitting in the van for 8 hours a day and drinking 30 packs of beer every night..
Joel: It was pretty essential for me and Aaron to do just because Justin and Sam have their own source of income that they can take on the road with them and they can do a little bit of work while they're gone...
Sam: We sell drugs!
Joel: I wanted to be discrete...
Sam: That was cute of you!
Joel: But yeah obviously we have to pay our rent and pay for school and everything... it actually might be more exhausting physically to get home and then going straight to work after like an 8 hour drive but mentally it's a lot less stressful to handle.
Justin: Yeah it kind of just spreads it out over a couple months which has it's pros and cons.
Sam: It was an effective solution for the fact that we didn't have any great tour options for the summer so rather than being like 'well we're going to go on tour for the summer because that's what we're supposed to do' it was more like 'well lets do what we can without being in like, Eerie Indiana on a tuesday night playing for no one'. We'd rather be in Eerie Indiana on a FRIDAY night playing for no one! At least then you have the illusion of progress!
Justin: It was also easier to tell people that we've been on tour ALL summer which people think is really impressive!
Who came up with the concept for your video for "Basements"!?
Justin: That was all Sam! He just showed up for practice one day and was like 'hey I made a video' and we were like 'ok great!'
Sam: Yeah that was me just being bored one day and I thought it would be kind of funny and wondered if it would work so I just edited in this really extremely boring live video of us - which is what I really like about it because it's not us being like 'look at how crazy we are' it's actually just us playing in Kitchener for like 10 people - and yeah so I put a couple of clips together and sent it around and everybody was like 'yeah this is totally funny' so we just brainstormed on a few more videos to round it out and what to cut in to make it funnier and yeah, it's got upwards of a 1000 hits because of our genius so that's good.
I fucking love the video, it's hilarious! Anyway, my last question has nothing to do with anything but I was using it as practice for this interview earlier today because I thought it was a good joke... In what scenario are farts NOT funny?
Justin: NONE! No scenario! Throughout history one of the unifying factors of all civilizations is that farting has always been considered funny, since agriculture and probably before that. Which means that like Napoleon and Gandi have in common that if somebody rips one they're probably going to giggle. Like it's actually sort of like a beautiful thing, it becomes a universal language almost.
Sam: Speaking about farting I was recently having a serious conversation with a female friend about problems she's having with a guy and I was sort of laying on the couch and just pointed at my ass and farted and it was like a really serious 'I don't know, life's hard' and I was just like *LONG FART NOISE* and it was funny!!! I don't know, I keep imagining a really serious terrible thing like you find out you have cancer and the doctor farts.. FUNNY!
Justin: I think the only thing that really changes over it is as your sense of humour evolves, like when you're 12 or 13 you take the shitter scene in Dumb & Dumber where it's just like insane huge big farting and you're busting a gut crying with laughter, but like now that my humour is more refined I like the tinier sort of squeekier high pitched farts, the more subtle ones, I feel that really sells it more.
Sam: Sometimes I find that, on the other end of that, as a kid I would recognize it was funny.. like the scene in Meaning of Life Monty Python with Mr. whatever his name was who goes into the restaurant and keeps barfing and barfing and barfing I was always like 'it's over kill' as a 13 year old, and NOW at 26 I am like 'this is SO funny, this is amazing!' so yeah it's true, it does change with time.
Justin: Farts are always funny though. Always funny.
Check them out here.
Thanks so much to Junior Battles and Melanie!
Posted by I do what I want!