In advance of the tour taking them through Montreal on October 27, 2019 at La Vitrola, Montreal Rocks spoke with Bethany & Jared.
We spoke about the new album, the meaning of the strange headgear on the Wake Up Wake Up video & clean cars.
Montreal Rocks: The last time we spoke, you were in Halifax. You then performed at Petit Campus, which I arrived too late for…sad about that. You are coming back again on October 27th, at La Vitrola. You will be playing with What If Elephants and Pet Talk.
Bethany: Yes. We love those guys (What if Elephants), we met them last year and we did a string of shows with them.
MR: Back then, we spoke about the beginnings where you went from Folk to Alt-POP. Now, with the new Album, Wake Up Wake UP, you are leaning more to an Alternative sound.
There is a quote from Steve Jobs: “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards.” You guys always seem to evolve, and you have these new areas of interest…you are changing. We are not going to talk about the next step, but the step before. How did you go from the last album to this album?
Jared: The last album was an experiment for us. We were wanting to get away from our folk beginnings. We started playing around with some ideas. After you sit on an album for a while, first it’s euphoria, you are excited about it, then looking back…it was split down the middle. Half POP, half Rock. It wasn’t super cohesive, so for this one, we were excited to create an album similar to what we grew up with. It has a progressive theme going throughout, intertwined and more one genre. We still dabble a little bit but wanted to keep it more cohesive.
MR: This is special, because it’s dropping today, the 27th of September!
Bethany: Yes, it’s a great day.
MR: I was listening to it a few times and it’s quite catchy, to say the least. I was playing “Wake Up Wake Up” for the 5th time, showing it to one of my employees and I had goosebumps. He said it was amazing…sounded a lot like Arcade Fire with your voice and upbeat tempo. What’s the story behind that song?
Bethany: “Wake Up Wake Up” was one of the newest songs we wrote for this album. It’s been two years since the last album came out. We didn’t write a lot for the new album until a year ago. “Hopefully” was one song we had started writing early on, but it was an interesting scenario for “Wake Up Wake Up.” We had more of a visual idea for that song, which was heavily influenced by Arcade Fire and Bruce Springsteen.
It was a visual of being in this bad dream and trying to wake up. It was a dream that I had and shared with Jared. That day we took that bad dream and turned it into what influenced the lyrics and feel around it. That just snowballed into what the music video turned into. The music video is a direct link into my crazy mind in the middle of the night.
MR: That might explain all the headgear, although not much explains all the headgear. What’s that all about? Is it that we are carrying things in our head that we can’t get rid of?
Bethany: A little bit, yeah, as well as the many objects we put under our nylon will hide our vision. It hides a portion of who we are. The theme is that there are a lot of things that block who we are, our identity. We create this brick wall between who we are and the world, our goals and the people around us. When we try to make a connection with someone, there are these things that are hiding a portion of our face, or there are things that come between us.
MR: That’s cool. I find that some people are living a nightmare, either with their personal life, trauma or baggage they are carrying from their youth. What’s your secret to getting out of the nightmare?
Jared: If we knew that, we wouldn’t have written the song! Music is very therapeutic for us, obviously.
Bethany: We have that creative outlet that lets us fill that void. Just like everyone else who has that one thing that brings them joy, peace and happiness…you need to make that a priority in your life. You need to make sure you are not suffocating under all these different ways of life, even if you need these things to survive. You need to think about your personal health and what brings you joy and focus on that.
You only have one life to live, make the most of it.
MR: Another good lesson is: Don’t live someone else’s dream. That is what Social Media is doing, seeing this life that people are portraying, that is not really real. You feel that you are missing out…you want to live that dream, but it might not be your dream. That might be blocking you, being around your head, not really revealing who you really are.
Bethany: Totally. We make music videos as open ended as possible so you can transport yourself into them with your own personal life and whatever is going on with you. That was a big part of making the imagery very generic with random objects as opposed to something specific to what we were going through. We want to give you this blank canvas that you can insert yourself in, take whatever part of that song that means the most to you and let it resonate.
MR: Are there any other songs on the album that you are really excited about?
Jared: They are all special to us in a way.
Bethany: They are all our favorites.
Jared: In a couple of months, we will have definite favorites.
Bethany: Once we start playing them live a couple of time, then we will go: Definitely NOT this one. (laughs)
Jared: I’m really excited about “Okay?”
MR: Do your songs change as you perform them live? Do they continue to grow, or they get stuck in time?
Jared: No. They definitely change. Our favorite thing is taking a two and half minute song and turning it into a moment. Not stretch it out, but how can we interpret this? You create something in the studio for a certain format, like a single that needs to be a certain length. That rarely translates live. Certain parts will feel too rushed if we don’t extend them.
MR: It allows you to explore a little deeper and insert more emotion out.
Jared: For sure. We get to see what people connect with and how to connect with them.
Bethany: That’s one of the most exciting parts of playing live…dissecting our songs and drawing out different moments that we love. That’s something we can’t do with a single, but what we can do live which is take that song and make it special. You can only hear it this way live. It also helps to liven things up, once you’ve played the song over and over again.
MR: Tell us about the tour. Where will it lead you this time? Any new places you haven’t visited before?
Bethany: Vancouver, Guelph and Hamilton have new places we haven’t played before. We’ve never played La Vitrola before either. We are very excited to try different venues.
MR: For the last interview, we spoke about the dynamics of a couple working together in the creative process. What’s the dynamic for a married couple going out on tour?
Jared: It’s different for sure. You add your band member and you now have the dynamic of trying to keep the car clean.
Bethany: And smell nice.
Jared: It’s a challenge but it’s fun.
Bethany: It’s more fun. I feel we turn more into bandmates that husband and wife when on tour because of schedules are go go go. We will often have a very late show, then have to get up really early for this morning interview thing.
MR: Interviews…they are the worst! (laughs)
Behany: Especially at 6 in the morning after you’ve played and didn’t get home till about 2.
MR: Just so you know, I scheduled this for 4PM so it could be 2 PM your time. You can sleep in…
Jared: This is wonderful.
MR: While on tour, what do you enjoying doing between gigs? Is that when you write?
Jared: We don’t really write on tour that much.
Bethany: We have a couple of times, when inspiration strikes.
Jared: When you’ve been playing all the time, the last thing you want to do is pick up the guitar again. The most fun we have is checking out the cities, the food scene, coffee and record stores.
MR: Is there one particular record that you are into these days?
Jared: There is this artist called Yola. She has this amazing voice. A mixture of old country and RnB.
Bethany: It’s really unique, something completely different than what we would normally listen to, but sometimes you need that left field, random artist in your life to spice things up.
MR: Do you find that as creative people, it’s good to expand your horizons and even challenge yourself with a new type of music, just to see if anything will stick?
Jared: Yeah, for sure. It’s a great inspiration when writing to approach music from a different way. It’s easy if you only listen to bands that sound like you to stay in a bubble and use the same bag of tricks. Even country or some of the classics, you go: Lyrically, that’s actually brilliant…as long as you can get past the music, if you are not a fan. Something you can expand on.
MR: There was another band I spoke to “Paragon Cause” from Ottawa that were working with a producer (Ravonnettes) who gave them the mission to listen to the Ramones before writing the next song. It was an experiment.
Bethany: That’s interesting.
MR: You are coming to Montreal and I’m really looking forward to that. You have a new album that is very upbeat, specifically “Wake Up Wake Up” and “Hopefully”. As you said, it has this certain vibe to it and it’s after a few listens, the songs start to really grow on you!
I will now as you the question you hate to be asked: What’s next for you guys? (laughs) Continuing to record?
Jared: Absolutely. We are always building up new ideas. Today, we are working for the tour, but we are constantly playing our instruments. When we get a new idea, we get excited, even if we just put something out. We are always asking each what can we do for the next album.
Bethany: Before that, we will have another single or two coming out, then some music videos. That’s my favorite part, choosing the song and staring to think about the video.
MR: Do you have a lot of creative input for the video, or do you give the reigns to a director to interpret what your song is about?
Bethany: We’ve had both experiences. Some of our early videos were all directorial based, with whoever we were working with. The last three music videos we’ve had a very heavy hand in doing them. I personally love that. I came from a more visual background before I got into music. We definitely love to be the creative minds behind the visuals of the videos. We also enjoy teaming up with other people, that’s always a lot of fun. Probably for the next single, we will team up with someone.
MR: Can’t wait to see what you pick for the next single. I might have some suggestions…but I can’t remember the names! I’ve been listening while working, so not paying attention to the titles. I like music that keeps me upbeat while I’m doing other things. The tour, I’m sure, will be amazing. You are known for your energy. What If Elephants as well. Hope you get some new fans. See you soon when you hit Montreal!
Interview: Randal Wark is a Professional Speaker and MasterMind Facilitator with a passion for live music. You can follow him on Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. His new Podcast RockStar Today helps musicians quit their days jobs is coming soon.Share this :