Saturday, September 29, 2012

Interview: Junior Battles

Sanctuary Review recently sat down with Junior Battles before their show at The Waiting Room in Omaha, Nebraska to talk about their Fall Out Boy money, Conor Oberst, Young Money/Cash Money, Canadian Cribs, G.O.O.D Music, Fest, their new album, and the eventual marriage of my photographer and I.

Sam: Vocals/Guitar
Aaron: Vocals/Guitar
Justin: Bass/Vocals
Joel: Drums

Sanctuary Review: Alright, so how's your relationship been with Paper+Plastick since signing?

Sam: It's been amazing. Vinnie, I think, is doing something really cool with that label, and I think he's really invested in every record that he puts out.  It's a real pleasure working with someone whose whole business is predicated on the idea of doing things that are different, and doing things that are maybe considered a little left of center, so when we say we want our record to be like a full color double gatefold vinyl he's like, "Of course! Why would it be anything else?" Also, we want to put it up for free on the internet and he doesn't bat an eyelash. We just found out last night that he's doing a limited run for Fest that's all gonna be screen printed covers. It's really fun working with someone who recognizes that selling music is not the same thing in 2012 as it was in 1992. There are a lot of punk labels that kind of act like CDs sales are gonna be the thing that establishes their label and I think he really understands that to establish his label he needs to just have fun with it  and be creative. That's like really interesting for us. (looks over to his bandmates) Would you say I nailed it?!

Aaron: Killed it. (laughs)

SR: You all were in different bands before forming Junior Battles. Can you tell us a little about that?

Justin: They weren't great. (collective laughter) And now we're in Junior Battles because of it.

Joel: We were all in the same band actually, with like one other member, and then we stopped being in that band, and then became this band but without that member.

SR: I wonder how he felt about that. (laughs)

Sam: I didn't think about that until after and we were in practice one day and we were like, "Ahhhhh that was kind of a dick move I guess."

Joel: I played in bands with that guy a bunch of times as well, like afterwards for another four years. I don't play music with him anymore, not like anything bad just ya know, busy with this stuff so, yeah.

SR: Maybe he's going to write his "Seventy Times Seven" now and get big.

Joel: (laughs) Yeah maybe.

Sam: We're giving him tons of fun for sure.

Collective: Yeah! (laughter)

SR: I played Idle Ages when I was driving around with a friend one day-

*Buddy from Less Than Jake walks in*

Sam: We're being professionals in here c'mon!

Buddy: Oh, I thought the interview was still going on. (collective laughter) (whispers) Shhhh don't mind me.

Sam: Is that my computer that you stole? No, mine's way dirtier than that. Sorry!

Buddy: Mine's pretty dirty too, but with the files.

Sam: Yea- ooooooohhhhhhhh.

Buddy: A lot of Canadian porn.

Sam: Yeah! (laughs) Alright, so back to be professional.

SR: (laughs) Alright, so I was playing Idle Ages for a friend one day and just driving around and he actually asked me if this was Patrick Stump's new band.

Sam: Oooooooooohhhhhhhhh nice!

Justin: Actually, he's saying on the record that it's sort of a Milli Vanilli thing we got going on.

Same: Yeah! We're just like the live Junior Battles and there's a studio Junior Battles.

SR: And it's just Fall Out Boy?

Same: It's uh, well, it's some members of Fall Out Boy, but then there are also members of Coldplay, and Drake's sort of studio band.

Joel: Not Chris Martin though.

Sam: Like the bass player.

Collective: Yeah.

SR: How do you guys feel about that comparison, even though it's a bit lazy? Do you get it a lot?

Justin: We do get it a lot.

Collective: Yeah.

Justin: But we don't get any of the Fall Out Boy money, so that's a bit frustrating.

SR: So what if you did have the Fall Out Boy money?

Sam: That'd be great! We could do whatever we wanted.

SR: You could have your own episode of Cribs and all that.

Justin: At least Canadian Cribs.

Sam: Yeah we'd for sure be on Canadian Cribs.

Justin. Even Brian's been on Canadian Cribs.

Sam: Brian Robinson from The Full Blast and A Wilhelm Scream was on Canadian Cribs once actually. 'Cause Canadian Cribs, they'll do like Chamillionare's house and Patrick Stump's house, then they'll do like some sort of ringer Canadian celebrity like Brian is. Make sure to talk to him about that.

Brian Robinson: I showed them around my apartment above a shady Asian travel agency. (collective laughter)

Sam: So, yeah, the Fall Out Boy thing is fine because people really like that band.

SR: Do you guys like Fall Out Boy?

Sam: I don't, and I sing in the band, so that's interesting. I don't wanna say it's "lazy" because people hear what they hear in music and there's totally nothing wrong with that and far be it for me to tell someone like what I think our band sounds like. I think there's this thing where like someone hears somebody singing kinda clean, like if you're not gritting up your voice and faking some shit which I think a lot of bands do, and then you're all playing pseudo-poppy music; people are like "Ahhhh that sounds like Fall Out Boy," and you're like "tons of bands sings like this, they just happen to be an extremely popular version of it." I wouldn't mind even a fraction of the money, like a fraction of that Fall Out Boy money.

SR: Yeah and people said Panic! At The Disco sounded like Fall Out Boy and they got huge.

Sam: Yes! So we could be like that.

SR: You guys could be the next Panic! At The Disco.

Sam: I like Panic! At The Disco more than I like Fall Out Boy.

SR: You just gotta add the exclamation point so it's like "Junior Battles!"

Collective: Yeah.

Sam: They got rid of the exclamation point though. They realized it was bad business, right?

SR: Yeah, and then they brought it back.

*Chris from Less Than Jake walks in*

Sam: So I hear these two are getting married?

Chris: Yeah he's already thinking about it. (collective laughter) But he can't because she's still in high school, and he's in college.

Sam: Yeah, give it some time. Listen to your friend, Chris.

Chris: He's definitely gonna rub one out though later about her. (collective laughter)

Sam: Yeah, this must've been a better interview than ours! (collective laughter)

SR: Alright, so Idle Ages has been out for over a year now. How do you feel about all the positive receptions it's gotten from fans and reviewers?

(everyone looks around)

Justin: (looking at Joel) He says no. (collective laughter)

Sam: It's been amazing. Like, you spend so much time working on something, and you hope that it is going to be as good as you want it to be when you're kind of conceptualizing it. And then when it comes out you hope that people hear the things that you tried to put time into, which might be why when people say it just sounds like Fall Out Boy, I'm like, "Come on! We tried so hard to make it not sound like Fall Out Boy." It's still amazing. this is the first time we've ever been to a lot of these cities like Omaha, St. Louis, tomorrow we're in Tulsa, and to have some sort of a kid in the crowd singing the words or see someone like just on Facebook saying, "Great to see you guys." Every single one of those things is so important to us because A. we're still music fans but B. I remember being a kid and going to see Less Than Jake play and seeing opening bands and being like, "This band fucking rules!" and being enthusiastic about that and knowing that we could be sort of doing that for anybody. Somebody else could be enjoying our music and our records like I've enjoyed punk rock records my whole life, there's no greater feeling than that.

SR: You first released the album on a "pay what you want" format-

*Chris from Less Than Jake leaves the room and turns the lights down* (collective laughter)

SR: You're gonna piss our photographer off! (collective laughter) Okay, so you first released the album on a "pay what you want" format, and then recently you just gave it away for free for two days. Why did you guys decide to do that?

Sam: I mean it's the internet, so your record is free all the time anyway, and I think doing it when the record came out was just a way of making sure people would hear it, and again before this tour. It was just a way of saying, "Hey, we're coming to Pawtucket, Rhode Island, we're coming to Omaha. We're not Less Than Jake and we're not A Wilhelm Scream, but if you're looking for something to put on your iPod and listen to on your way to school, then why not check out this fucking jam popping slam band record?

Joel: Also, giving your album away for free on the internet ensures that the people who listen to it get it in the best possible quality and the way you want them to get it.

SR: Yeah it's not just some shitty stream quality.

Joel: Exactly.

Sam: Yeah!

SR: That's what most of the music on the internet is, shitty quality anyways.

Collective: Yeah!

SR: So unless you buy it, you really only get it for half the quality that it really is.

Sam: Yeah! And there's a measure of respect that goes along with it, where it's like, hey I know that, say the people who are coming to our show that are spending, I don't know how much the ticket was tonight.

SR: Like eighteen dollars.

Sam: Yeah, so it's like a twenty dollar ticket, for sure like the audience at these shows are pretty young, so not kids with a ton of money to spend. I think that if you want someone to listen to your music you have to make it as easy as possible and you have to just say "Hey I know that you aren't gonna go and buy our record before we come to Omaha, but here check it out, and if you like it, show up in time to see us play." You know what I mean?

SR: Yeah, there's the people who just know Less Than Jake so they'll just show up whenever it's time for them to play.

Sam: Totally. Like, you own every Less Than Jake record right, so why are you not just drinking at a parking lot while we're playing? But I think if you can kind of show people who could like your band that you kind of like, there's some respect there. You'd be surprised at how many people will actually donate. Like if you put up the "pay what you can," tons of people will give you money also. Not tons of money.

SR: Like thanks for the album, here's my spare change or whatever.

Sam: Totally! Like "Here keep the five bucks."

SR: Do you think giving away the album has helped the reaction you get for this tour as far as people showing up early to watch you play?

Joel: Hopefully

Sam: Yeah!

Joel: I mean like it's hard to tell, but yeah, definitely hopefully.

Sam: There's definitely like at each show you'll see like a couple kids that sorta know what is happening when we play.

*Nuno Pereira from A Wilhelm Scream walks in, gives everyone a sideways look and laughs*

Sam: WHAT!

Nuno: All you guys on one couch is fucking funny. (collective laughter)

Brian: I think it's adorable!

Sam: What? Do we not look cool?

Brian: You look adorable!

Sam: Brian do you think we look cool though?

(A hundred un-transcribable conversations happening at once)

Sam: So that's us interacting with celebrity goaltender Nuno from A Wilhelm Scream. Make sure to talk to Nuno about his goaltending.

SR: Alright, that'll be the first question I ask. 

Sam: Definitely break the ice with that one.

Justin: And equipment too.

Sam: And pads.

SR: Okay so pads, goalie, and Canadian Cribs.

Sam: And Canadian Cribs with Brian yeah.

SR: Have you started writing yet for your second album?

Justin: Yes. (long pause) (collective laughter)

Justin: The answer is yes!

Sam: Yeah we have like a handful of demos and a handful of songs that are on their feet and we just recorded two songs.

*Brian starts laughing in the background*

Sam: What! I'm talking about something totally different!

Brian: How many songs are in two handfuls?! (collective laughter)

Sam: Well it depends how big the songs are!

Brians: (laughs) Yeah, that's true.

Sam: We recorded two songs right before we started this tour that we're gonna have out before Fest, and then we're hoping to cram some recording in before we leave for Fest at the end of October. We'll see what happens.

SR: Are you going to have guest spots on this album like Idle Ages did?

Justin: We don't have anything really planned out yet.

SR: Conor Oberst is right down the street so.

Sam: Yeah, I'm going to wait and see if Conor Oberst comes to the show tonight, and if not we're gonna go to the place called Mileland or something?

SR: Yeah it's not that far.

Sam: Is that what it's called? Mileland?

SR: I'm not too sure. (laughs) (It's actually called Pageturners Lounge.)

Sam: I'm just going to go roam the street screaming Conor Oberst's name until we get him to do guest vocals on the record. Having guests on the last record was for sure like a major achievement for us and like, could not be more proud of who's on the record, so we'll see. It was kind of a special thing to do on that record and I don't know if we need to do that again, so we'll see.

SR: Besides Conor Oberst, is there someone that you'd like to have do a guest spot?

Sam: Well, we really want to get signed to Young Money/Cash Money.

Joel: It'd be great to get Weezy on a track.

Justin: Even if it's just him screaming "Young Money" on a track.

Sam: That's probably like the number one thing, to get the Young Money crew on a track.

SR: That's a number one single right there if someone yells "Young Money" on a track. You're gonna be on the radio.

Justin: Pretty much! If we could get like a hot sixteen from Nicki Minaj that'd be cool.

Sam: Yeah. Nicki, Weezy...

Justin: Obviously Drake.

SR: Fred Durst. (laughs)

Sam: Fred Durst, the runt of the Young Money family. (collective laughter)

SR: Kevin Rudolf.

Sam: Yeah! That's probably it for sure.

SR: Yeah, cause no one likes Tyga anyways so he can stay off.

Sam: I mean, I like that he makes porn now or whatever. What's he do?

Aaron: He has his own porn site called Rack City. (collective laughter)

Aaron: And he directs, actually.

Sam: So I would say he has a good thing going.

SR: Well actually when he was here he got shot at, so maybe not. 

Sam: Really?!

SR: Yeah!

Sam: Is someone gonna shoot at us?! Do you think?! Was it on stage or what?

SR: In the middle of his concert someone started throwing bottles at him. They said it was gang related or something like that. So he told him to meet him outside or whatever. He played "Rack City," his last song, and you can see on the video people running out the doors to the side lot to see what happened and his bus got shot at as he drove away. 

Sam: Holy shit!

SR: Yup, so Drake's never coming here now.

Sam: Your town is fucking scary.

SR: Yeah, it was a pretty sketchy part of town. You're fine here.

Aaron: Drake found out real quick that he's not very gangster at all.

Collective: Yeah! (laughter)

Aaron: Welcome to America, motherfucker! We actually have guns. Lots of 'em.

Sam: Drake has never fronted guys. This is important.

SR: (laughs) What do you guys do outside of the band? Do you have day jobs?

Sam: No, this pays for all of it. We got that Fall Out Boy money! (laughs) I work as a freelance music journalist and I work for a Canadian music tv station.

Joel: I work at an old folks' home. (collective laughter)

Justin: I work at the same tv station as Sam.

Aaron: And the same old folks' home. (collective laughter)

Aaron: I direct porn. (collective laughter)

SR: For Tyga? (collective laughter)

Aaron: I used to be an actor and then I transitioned.

Sam: It's the only classy way to really stay in the business but to sort of maintain your personal integrity I think.

SR: You're playing Fest for the fourth time this year. Are you excited?

Sam: Fest is literally the most amazing weekend of your life every year. I'm so excited that it doesn't even register for me. Like literally, the best fucking time ever imaginable.

Joel: The best week.

SR: When you build a Delorean that's where you're going back to?

Sam: Pretty much. That's it. Gonna revisit every Fest that we've ever played.

Justin: Pretty much.

SR: What's on your band's bucket list?

Justin. Go back in time. (laughs)

Sam: Build a Delorean, go back in time, vist Fest. Play Omaha.

Joel: So we've pretty much got it checked off.

Justin: Yup, this is going to be our last show.

Sam: Yeah, we're done after this. Hang out with Conor Oberst in Omaha, tell him to fucking finish the next Desaparacidos record.

SR: Are you going to break up and become a Desperacidos cover band?

Sam: That's it. Just gonna do "Man and Wife, The Former" for the rest of my fucking life.

SR: That could work out. 

Sam: Yeah it'd be pretty good.

SR: What bands are you into right now?

Sam: On the drive here, we listened to the new Future of the Left record, the new Kanye G.O.O.D Music complation Cruel Summer.

SR: That album sucked. I really didn't like it too much. It was more of a front half loaded album.

Sam: Yeah. The front half is fucking awesome. It was my first time listening to it. I didn't think the second half was great.

Justin: We all fell asleep.

Sam: We kinda fell asleep, but the front half is good because of "Clique" and "Mercy" and stuff are unbelievable. So it's like that.

Joel: I really like Beach House. They're one of my favorites.

SR: They're playing here next month.

Joel: Yeah, I know, I saw the poster and I got really excited but I'm going to be a million miles away.

SR: With that Fall Out Boy money you can just hop on your jet. (laughs)

Sam: On our Fall Out Boy jet, yeah.

SR: What are your plans for the rest of the year and going into next year?

Justin: Spend that cheddar.

Sam: Yeah, spend all that money flying back and forth to shows at The Waiting Room. Yeah, I mean, pretty much we'll get back from this tour in a couple of days  and try to finish some writing for the record, try to record, go down and do Fest, and then just kinda see what the fuck happens. We're a real minute to minute band.

SR: Any last words you wanna say?

Sam: If Conor Oberst reads this, get at me bro. I just wanna talk about that record, a lot.

SR: You guys can do a split or something.

Sam: They did that one new song so there's stuff happening, but get at me if there's some leftovers and you wanna do a split.

SR: I saw them last month when they played the Maha Music Festival here. They co-headlined with Garbage. 

Sam: Garbage? Weird. Would also do a split with Garbage. So Shirley Manson, Butch Vig, get at me. Conor Oberst get at me.

SR: It was cool to see Butch Vig play drums though. That guy has done a lot of cool shit. 

Sam: Yeah, he is famous as hell and very important.

SR: He produced Nevermind so he can do whatever the hell he wants.

Sam: And he produced White Crosses!

SR: But he did do 21st Century Breakdown so that kinda takes it down a little.

Sam: Yeah that is a terrible fucking record.

SR: Have you heard the new one yet? 

Sam: Yeah, it's fucking bad. It's so fucking bad. "Kill The DJ" or whatever? It sounds like it was written by a child. Straight up though, we'd tour with you Green Day! So sorry, your new record is awesome!

SR: I think I liked maybe a few songs. It was weird because they put out half the album before it even released so it didn't really feel like a full listen.

Sam: I've done that before. Yeah, totally. It's like, pretty whatever. I'm sure there will be one or two songs that grow on me a little bit.

SR: And when they go on tour they're going to play the whole thing live. That's pretty much what their live set is, new stuff. 

Sam: Yup. That's why you avoid Green Day. Just kidding! Come take us on tour, Billie Joe. Thank you.

SR: Well, they're coming here in February so maybe I'll give them a kidney so I can interview them and I'll namedrop you guys.

Sam: Yeah, play him the part of the interview where I love him and wanted to tour with him.

SR: I'll play him the album and lock us in the room until he listens to it. I'll say, "Hey, they sound like Fall Out Boy so maybe you'll like them! They have a lot of money!"

Collective: Yeah! (laughter)

SR: Alright, well thank you guys!

Sam: Yeah, thank you. That was fun!

Make sure you check out Junior Battles at Fest, October 26-28. You can also purchase their debut album Idle Ageshere.

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