Old Friends and New Sounds: A Conversation with Jane’s Party

Jane's Party - live at Niagara On The Lake, August 2016 // © Shannon Ruzgys
Jane's Party - live at Niagara On The Lake, August 2016 // © Shannon Ruzgys

Playing good ole rock music is hard nowadays. The public’s attention span is fleeting and music is discovered through playlists on Spotify or hits on the radio. Attention has shifted away from albums as a whole and moved towards each song being its own entity. When was the last time you listened to an entire album through, instead of just plugging in your playlist and putting it on shuffle? With that being said, there is nothing better than when a band comes along and proves that everything we once loved about rock and roll is still around.

Tunnel Visions - Jane's Party
Tunnel Visions – Jane’s Party

Toronto four piece Jane’s Party are the diamond in the rough you’ve been looking for. Their third LP, Tunnel Visions (released May 2016 via Cadence Music) brings the world a taste of a simpler time, when stadiums were sold out by a group of guys and their guitars, and music was listened to through vinyls back to front. By releasing albums and playing an extensive amount of bar gigs and opening slots, Jane’s Party remind us all about the simple love of rock and roll. They are the type of band that you need to see live to fully understand all that they have to offer, and it is truly a bit of everything. From upbeat dancing songs to harmonizing heart wrenching ballads, Jane’s Party have something for every type of listener. They have a rare gift of making music that is not only easy to listen to, but also easy to love.

Their newest single and music video “Old Friends,” which Atwood Magazine is proud to be premiering today, does a fine job of wrapping up everything that there is to love about Jane’s Party. From harmonizing vocals to a catchy chorus, “Old Friends will find you singing to yourself throughout the day. The song opens up with a euphoric guitar riff that draws you in from the start. You cannot help but feel a certain type of nostalgia while listening – like maybe you should call up some of those friends you haven’t seen since university. The song plays perfectly into the retro vibe that the band gives off, and if you close your eyes and listen carefully, you may just feel like you’re living 40 years in a past time where rock bands ruled the world.

Atwood Magazine spoke to Jane’s Party about their tour experience, musical background and the route to Tunnel Visions. Enjoy our world premiere of “Old Friends” and get to know Jane’s Party through our exclusive interview!

Watch: “Old Friends” – Jane’s Party


Tunnel Visions – Jane’s Party

Jane's Party Olympics 2016
Jane’s Party


Atwood Magazine: Let’s start off talking about the album a little bit. So obviously your sound has evolved tremendously with this release. What was different with the recording process than your previous two releases?

Jeff: We recorded this one with Greg Keelor of Lost Cause and the other I guess back half of the record at The Woodshed in Toronto. I think one of the biggest differences was the recording gear and space and the personnel on board for the record.

Okay awesome, so from the title to each individual song I find albums kind of tell a story. What kind of story does Tunnel Visions tell?

Devon: I think this record more than any other record deals a lot more with death and mortality. With a song like ‘Tunnels’ which was about my uncle in the hospital. I wrote it after he died of cancer before the record got released so he never got to hear it unfortunately. And then I know during the writing process Jeff’s grandmother passed away and so did Tom’s and that’s what ‘Time Remembered’ was about. So there’s sort of two tracks on the record which sort of deal with morality which we’ve never really written about before so it was fun to sort of- well not really fun- but cathartic.

Zach: My grandfather died during the writing as well.

Devon: So yeah we all had a family member pass away during the recording process.

Tom: Yeah I guess we have a few songs that even touch on that [mortality] even ‘What I’ve Been Missing’ is about the questions like “what is life?” “what is this passage through life?”

When you have an opening and closing song, it is kind of like the beginning and end of a story book. What made you chose ‘Old Friends’ and ‘Time Remembered’ to open and close the album?

Devon: With “Old Friends” we thought that the way the feedback and the guitars sound right off the intro, with like a really big guitar riff to open the record, the song doesn’t really sound like any other song on any other of our records. We thought it would be a good intro to this new sound – this is our new record, this is what we’re about.

Tom: As for the ending, we have a tradition where I just finish off the records, so yeah.

Zach: It’s funny you say that. because it is true – but not really intentional on any of our parts.

Tom: Oh really? ‘Cause I’ve shawtied the next record too.

Jane's Party - live at Niagara On The Lake, August 2016 // © Shannon Ruzgys

Jane's Party - live at Niagara On The Lake, August 2016 // © Shannon Ruzgys

Do you have any songs from the album or any other albums you’ve made, even a cover of another song, that you really love playing?

Devon: “Cigarette Buzz” is always really fun to play live for me.

Jeff: I really like playing an Eagles tune called ‘One of These Nights’. That’s a good hip shaker.

Zach: I like playing time remembered, we’ve changed it up so it’s different from the recording and Tom takes the lead on that one. And we just put it in the setlist recently which is always exciting.

Tom: I think meet me halfway is still one of my favorites. It’s on the last record and we’ve been playing it for a while and it just kinda stuck around for a while so I still get a kick off of playing that one.

I feel like we have already touched on this a bit, but I really feel like Tunnel Visions has put you guys on a whole different level in terms of radio play, YouTube views, and streams on Spotify. I would say it’s your most successful release yet, do you agree?

Devon: 100% yes.

For sure, so where do you go from here?

Jeff: Europe. Across the ocean, we’re gonna explore that.

Will this be your first time touring outside of Canada?

Devon: It will be yes, I actually lived in Europe for 10 years, so it is really exciting to go back. I’ve always wanted to go back and play music there after living there from ages 12-20. I think it’s gonna be really fun to see all of these towns with a guitar on my back.

Tom: You’re a bass player, you don’t even play guitar.

Jane's Party - live at Niagara On The Lake, August 2016 // © Shannon Ruzgys

Jane's Party - live at Niagara On The Lake, August 2016 // © Shannon Ruzgys

I’m going to ask a pretty broad question here, but what would you say are your end goals as a band?

Devon: To sustain a comfortable living by playing music. Obviously it’s very difficult right now in this climate but that would be the end goal. Also as you play in a band more and more you see more paths that you can take and you start to see the light at the end of the tunnel of okay maybe it’s not that far out of reach and then oh my god it’s so far out of reach and you sort of just keep going up and down. So the end goal for me would definitely be just to earn a living playing music.

Jeff: I agree.

Zach: I’d like to drive across the states and be able to continually hear one of our songs across every single radio station. [Laughs] No i’m kidding I was gonna say continued existence which just plays into what their saying. I think there’s a few radio stations in particular that we’d like to be spun on and just turn it on and hear it just come up. It’s always amazing when that happens.

I don't think hearing yourself on the radio is something you get sick of. So I feel like everyone has an artist has someone that made them want to be a musician. I remember when I was younger and I heard ‘Viva La Vida’ by Coldplay for the first time, that’s when I decided I wanted to play piano. Who, would you say, were your idols while growing up?

Zach: It started with Travis Barker from Blink-182 – it was the first concert I ever saw, and then it went to Ringo Starr and then it went to Max Roach, a famous jazz drummer that I was totally hooked on.

Tom: I was and guess still am a huge Radiohead fan, in Grade 10 I was deep into it and I kind of realized that maybe this was something that I could also do. Just like write really cool music, I think that was the appeal like this is cool stuff it wasn’t any more like this is punk rock, this is special. I spun their new record front to back 4 times the other day and by the fourth time I was not bored.

Jeff: For me, Sam Roberts was a pretty big one, he just kinda released awesome Canadiana rock tune after rock tune and I was really into that a lot growing up. We’ve even played with them a few times now and that was really cool to kinda realize that oh shit the guy that I looked up to we’re now playing with him.

Devon: Same boat as Zach, it was probably Blink-182 that got me into it. But really when I was in 8th grade there was a high school punk band and just seeing them perform at like the talent shows and what not I was like oh my god they are like people I can actually touch who are doing this and it blew my mind. So that was a big catalyst for actually realizing that regular people like me could do this.

You kinda forget that everyone starts somewhere, right?

Devon: Yep, high school bands.

Exactly. So, you guys all met in university and you decided to become Jane’s Party from there. Hypothetically let's say that hadn’t happened: What do you think you would all be doing with your lives right now?

Jeff: I’d probably be like playing in a wedding band. This guy was convinced that the future of our musicianship was making money playing corporate gigs but luckily enough that didn’t happen.

Zach: I was a tour guide for a while and I was pretty good at it so I think that’s where I would have ended up. I was unnaturally good at it which sort of scared me.

Devon: I would probably just be in a better band [Laughs]

Zach: Is that your actual answer?

Devon: No-no I definitely would have tried to be a ping-pong star. I take ping-pong more seriously than music. Or something with animals, like a dog sitter.

Tom: I’d probably just be in my parents basement making demos that no one would ever hear.

Zach: They would be amazing demos. He would be famous after his death.

Devon: He’d be a graphic designer, well he already is he does all of our artwork. What Tom doesn’t tell you is that he was going to apply for art school but went into music instead.

Tom: I don’t even think I knew that.

Jane's Party - live at Niagara On The Lake, August 2016 // © Shannon Ruzgys
Jane’s Party – live at Niagara On The Lake, August 2016

That’s amazing. So Jane's Party have been a band for nine years now, would you classify yourselves as a well oiled machine or at this point are you still learning?

Devon: Always learning, I learned something new today on the phone. The industry is always changing and there is always new stuff to learn.

Zach: I think we are more oiled now than we’ve ever been but we realize now that we need more oil than ever.

You guys have played the Toronto music scene pretty extensively. What’s your favorite venue to play in Toronto?

Devon: I like the Danforth Music Hall, we’ve played there a couple times.

Zach: Massey Hall will be my favorite one once we play it for sure, it’s the best venue in Toronto. But I would say I like The Cameron House which is where we sorta honed our craft more than anywhere else.

Tom: I think I’d second the Cameron House, we’ve just played there so many times that we feel insanely comfortable playing there. There’s not too many things you feel you can’t do there.

Jeff: For being comfortable it has to be the Cameron House absolutely, we’ve all played there so many times it’s hard to get up there and feel nervous or not in control of what’s going on.

Is there any venue you really want to play in Toronto?

Devon: Massey Hall or Molson Amphitheatre across the board.

Thank you for sitting down with me - I look forward to seeing you guys around Toronto!

— —

Tunnel Visions - Jane's Party
Tunnel Visions – Jane’s Party
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Discover more new music on Atwood’s Picks
Photos: Jane's Party live at Niagara On The Lake © Shannon Ruzgys

:: Jane’s Party Tour 2016 ::

9/22 – Maxwell’s Waterloo, ON
9/23 – Horseshoe Tavern Toronto, ON
— —

Watch: “Old Friends” – Jane’s Party

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