Junior Battles - 05/22/14

Interviewed by
Junior Battles - 05/22/14
On May 27 Toronto's Junior Battles will release its second full-length record Rally through Paper + Plastick so we phoned up guitarist/vocalist Sam Sutherland to learn a little more about how the record came together.

I understand Junior Battles didnít intend to do another record after Idle Ages, it just sort of happened?

Yeah, we didnít make that up, we werenít sure what we wanted to do after because everyone was at different parts of their lives. Joel [drummer] had just gotten married, everyone had gotten more serious jobs that they actually liked and we knew we still wanted to play music, but we didnít know how serious the band was going to be. Joel also moved away for a year after he got married so before he left we were just practicing some new tunes, we did two songs that ended up being part of a tape we put out around Fest. Then we just found we still enjoyed writing so we thought about an EP then realized we only needed a few more songs to do a full blown record. Doing a record would mean the songs would have more of a home and get some more attention. EPs come and go in the end, we wanted to make another definitive statement. Once you have two full-length records youíre a real band. Like if we all died it would be like ĎOh that sucks, Junior Battles was a real bandí whereas if we died after one record no one would give a shit. Now we hope that our obituaries are more involved I guess.

Like the last you also recorded this one at home in Toronto?

Yeah, this one was done with Steve Rizun again who we worked with in the past. When we realized we were doing a full-length record it was really clear to us that he was the guy to go to. Weíve been friends for a really long time, since I was in high school and he was recording out of his parentís basement. Since then heís moved into this amazing studio space called Drive Studios, which is sort of north of Etobicoke, in the suburbs of Toronto. He understands what weíre trying to do and he doesnít have a set sound, he lets bands sound how they actually sound and heís always gotten that about us. We were able to do the bed tracks live off the floor and play together, he never gets too crazy with overdubs. Itís not like when thereís a guitar or lead happening thereís 8 other rhythm tracks and heís got some great guys working with him these days too. Itís a great space to go to for the night and keep plugging away at things at.

How would you say Rally varies from Idle Ages?

In my mind I think itís substantially different. Everyone in the band has always had a lot of different musical interests that expand far beyond the boundaries of pop-punk, to the point where two members of the band donít even listen to pop-punk and continue not to listen to pop-punk. Idle Ages was a lot of Aaron [vocals/guitar] and myself kind of leading the core. I hope it would be considered a left field kind of pop-punk record, but itís still very much in that world, even if there are some songs that were weirder and have other elements. I think with this one because we were only making it because we were having so much fun, I think it really freed us to try very aggressively to change the foundation of the songs. I still think at its core thereís a lot of pop-punk tropes, but it starts off with the song ďRaftsĒ which we put out a few weeks ago. I donít personally think thatís a pop-punk song, itís a Constantines/Silkworm sort of song, which in a lot of ways I think is more reflective of our collective musical interests.

Lots of Canadian alt-rock?

Yeah, thatís a huge one. Weíre just about to put out the next single ďBunkĒ and itís the most Canadian alt-rock song ever. Itís a song that feels like it should be on Big Shiny Tunes 2 and Iím super proud of that because I think thatís a really honest place for us to be as a band. And itís something all four of us can really truly connect on. But youíre right, Canadian alt-rock fucking to death. I think also with Idle Ages it was me and Aaron trying to deal with what type of human beings we were going to turn into when we got to the age that we are now. Kind of what happened was we realized things worked out. Thereís a lot of anxiety on previous Junior Battles stuff, now weíre 28/29 and our life is fine. I rent an apartment I like, I have a job I donít hate most of the time, Iím pretty fucking fortunate and we all feel that way. And with that comes this whole other set of concerns about what that means and whether that stacks up against what you thought youíd be doing. Trying to define what the measures of success are truly going to be for your life because youíre not standing on the edge of adulthood anymore, youíre neck fucking deep and your friends are starting to have babies. Trying to pin down the person youíve become and trying to tackle the anxieties that might come with almost turning 30.

Sports seem to be the big metaphor that runs throughout Rally?

Yeah, we had this joke from a long time ago that we were going to make an EP with all these super specific activity songs so that it would be placed in car commercials and we would get insanely fucking rich. The record is actually sort of book-ended by this super tongue in cheek song we wrote, the original lyrics were just ĎAnd you will score the winning goal because you are very good at sports.í We decided if we were going to do this record we were going to indulge all of our dumb shit, which means loving Limblifter, loving the Constantines and loving this insanely dumb idea of ĎAnd you will score the winning goal because you are very good at sports.í We ended up writing the last song around that and Aaron wrote new lyrics which took this joke and made it into I think a really compelling and effective metaphor about how you measure your own achievements as you move on in your life. That ended up tying the whole record together in a surprising way and when it came time to title the record, we were kicking around some sports terms. We settled on Rally because itís obviously sporty and it can apply to a lot of things in a personís life, it works with those lyrics to drive home a lot of different ideas about growing up and stuff like that.

Another thing I noticed throughout the record was all the cell phone references.

For sure, thereís definitely some of that imagery on the record and I think most of that pops up on Aaronís songs. I donít want to put too many words in his mouth, but I think for him, a cell phone is a really effective stand-in for human interaction and the four of us are all guilty of being in a room together and everyoneís looking at their phone. And I think that idea sort of conjures a lot really immediately about how you interact with the world around you. To what degree do you need a filter between you and your friends or the people you spend time with. I would say weíre far from technophobes, we love our mobile technology, but I think part of it is still ĎIs it even possible to turn off your cell phone and if not what the fuck does that say about you?í Aaron tends to write a lot about, heíll probably disagree with me and tell me Iím wrong, but from an outside perspective I feel like heís being constantly worried that people think heís a dick. One of the songs with cell phone stuff is ďBelieve It or Not, George Isn't at HomeĒ and itís not necessarily about being a dick, but it is about the distances you put between yourself and other people and how much those grow as you get older.

Whatís next for Junior Battles?

Weíre doing our third Pouzza Fest and The Flatliners are nice enough to ask us out, weíre playing with them and Direct Hit! going to a bunch of cities we love. Weíre doing Fest and we have American visas for the next year so we can go down there and do shows, though we donít have many firm plans just yet. We have a video coming out, weíll have the record available, three years is a really long time to follow-up Idle Ages and itís really nice to finally have something new to share. Iím excited to remind people weíre fucking wicked and everyone should love us.

What song did you shoot the video for?

I don't know when this will run, but itís for ďBunkĒ and we shot the whole thing using Snapchat, which is an app for children essentially and we love it. Some of us work in TV so we all know how to make a good video, but we wanted something fun and different that would represent who we actually are, weíre basically dudes who love our friends and hanging out and thatís why we even made the record in the first place. I think itís interesting and like this super modern version of the Smashing Pumpkins ď1979Ē and Iím excited for people to see it.
Displaying posts 1 - 6 of 6
11:11 AM on 05/22/14
saddr weirdr
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saddr weirdr's Avatar
Interesting read. I hope this doesn't mean they won't follow up Rally though, haha.
01:55 PM on 05/22/14
Deborah Remus
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Deborah Remus's Avatar
Interesting read. I hope this doesn't mean they won't follow up Rally though, haha.
We'll see, haha. So far I feel like I'm one of the only people who thinks this new record is the best thing they've done by far.
04:52 PM on 05/22/14
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RazorCrusade's Avatar
"I’m excited to remind people we’re fucking wicked and everyone should love us."

Haha, awesome. Great to see some more context for the record. Really excited to hear the full album.
10:42 PM on 05/22/14
A Waste Of A Time
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avarice14's Avatar
This band is excellent and I'm vv v vvvvvv excited for Rally and how I wish they'd visit California. whine.
10:49 PM on 05/22/14
saddr weirdr
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and how I wish they'd visit California. whine.

Oh man, same

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