Just last month, we threw a bit of a party with Jane’s Party. About a week before the show, we got together with the band for a video interview. Unfortunately, there was an issue with corruption of the file. We decided we’d have a go at it again, this time minus the video and just in time for their next edition of West End Wednesdays (this time presented by Public City), which they hope to make a monthly showcase at various venues in the city’s west end.
One taboo question seems to be exactly who is Jane and what’s the deal with her party. Devon Richardson (vocals, bass, keys) says, “We used to be called Love Lust and Lightning and then we were down in Boston and we met this girl, this total drug addict named Jane and she kept trying to give us all these drugs and kept being like, ‘Come to my party, come to my party, come to my party!’ And we got back from Boston and we were like, ‘Oh, Jane’s party was crazy.’”
I told him I didn’t believe him. He then said, “Perhaps it will always be shrouded in mystery.”
The jokes continued when they discussed how they met (something about watching children’s choir practice and dating each other), but Devon reeled the guys in. “Tom and Jeff were in a band and then I joined the band and then we lost that drummer and then I gave Zach the call.”
Jeff Giles (vocals, keys, guitar, bass) kept it concise. “Let’s just say we emerged out of the ghetto at Jane and Finch… as the one indie rock band in that area.”
Since releasing their debut album The Garage Sessions in 2009, which was released only a year into the birth of the band, Jane’s Party has been playing lots of shows and really honing in on developing their sound. When describing their sound, they decided to go in a round and each offered an adjective. The end result was “harmonious melodic bouncy good vibes.”
They’ve got a variety of musical influences that contribute to this sound they’ve described, including The Beatles, Spoon, Dr. Dog, Beach Boys, Arcade Fire, The Band, Grizzly Bear… and the list goes on. While they all have their individual influences, there are certainly commonalities.
Jeff says, “We like rock and roll. We like pop. But definitely we like the indie coating.”
Devon continues, “We like bands with a pop sensibility.”
“With the indie fuzz,” Jeff says, finishing the sentence.
Zach Sutton (drums) builds on this and says, “And with some harmonies, for sure.”
The three vocalists in the band are also the songwriters.
Devon describes, “Usually if it’s a tune that I’ve been working on I’ll sit at home and record it on Garage Band or something like that. And then I’ll email it to our band email and then they’ll all listen to it, tear it apart. And then we’ll get to the next band practice and we’ll pick and choose the parts we like and then work it out and move from there. And it sorta works that way for everyone now. That’s sorta been the way we’ve been doing it recently.”
Jeff continues, “Yeah, I just wrote a tune recently and kinda put together the basics of it, just with a couple guitars and vocals and maybe some backups and then the rest of the guys kinda come together and mesh it into one thing.”
Tom Ionescu (vocals, guitar) says, “I really like hearing the recorded version of what the composer’s take is on it and you can kinda take that to the next level or work with that.”
Jeff then says, “But that’s referring to some of the newer tracks. Some of our older tracks we kinda jammed out, more spur of the moment.”
Devon continues, “Or they’d come together on tour. And then when we’d record them, we’d have them a lot tighter.”
Jeff then sums it up. “But for the most part, it kinda starts with one person and you either record it or build on it.”
The guys are currently recording. They’re not quite done yet, but they’re predicting a release in late May or June.
Jeff says, “We’re three quarters through it, minus mixdown and sort of last minute production on it. But the recording process, we’re three quarters through.”
Devon continues, “We’ll probably be done it by the end or March and then sit on it, keep listening to it, do final tweakings and probably do a release by May.”
It’s been a couple years since The Garage Sessions, but Jane’s Party have released “Alone Together” as a single (limited edition physical copy) and they’ve been testing out other new tunes live for a while.
Zach says, “We’ve never taken a musical break. We’ve had all these new tunes and we recorded a few times already, actually, and they’ve kinda acted as demos. It’s just kinda been a long filtration process and now we’re finally set on our sound and we’re happy with how things are so we got into a studio. But we’ve been touring the last 2 years.”
Devon continues, “We were also quite poor those last 2 years, so we couldn’t afford studio time. Been saving our dimes. We definitely toured a bunch.”
Tom continues, “I think those tours is really what brought a lot of those tunes together and what, I think, musicianship-wise, really meshed the band together. I think without some of those tours, I don’t think we’d be playing so well.”
Devon, chuckling a little, agrees, “Not nearly as tight, yeah.”
Jane’s Party has been trying to play as frequently as possible. Their touring has led to some nice memorable moments.
Zach describes a highlight that is one of those little things that make a difference. “Every time we got to Halifax we pass by the pier and there’s always the same hot dog guy that works there and we know him by name. And it really feels like time hasn’t past at all. And he gives us free hot dogs. That’s a tour highlight for me. Just a little thing.”
Devon shares another story. “I think we played at the Carleton in Halifax and then we packed it and just had a great time and then afterwards we got invited back by the bar owner, Mike Campbell, to the Tiki Bar, which is just a bar in the back of his house and a bunch of people from the bar came out. Joel Plaskett’s band was there, so we got to rock out with them. That was until 5 in the morning. That was during Pop Explosion. And that was a blast.”
With all their touring, Jeff points out it’d be hard for them to unanimously agree on a favourite place. Each of them has their own.
Tom goes first. “I like Halifax. I just like the city a lot. I like the people and the city and the vibe.”
Devon then says, “I love Charlottetown. I think PEI is amazing.”
Jeff puts in his 2 cents and says, “I think, for me, it’s been Clark’s Hall in Kingston, but only because it’s been a really big turnout every time we play there. And the crowd really digs it.”
Devon continues, “And they usually give us a lot of free drinks.”
Jeff explains, “Lots of turbo, which is, by the way, mix between Smirnoff and Coors Light.”
Devon, still thinking, says, “Actually, Sackville, New Brunswick was decent as well.”
Zach agrees, “I was gonna say Mount Allison in Sackville. It’s not the best space to have it and the turn outs are never great, but the people who do come out are super enthused about it, which is pretty cool.”
Jeff then says, “To be fair, though, we haven’t played Vancouver. We haven’t played any further west than High River in Alberta. So we haven’t really given it a chance. We haven’t properly experienced the West.”
But they have their sights set on touring the West soon, hopefully in the summer or fall after their big new release.
As far as a drunk story goes, Tom was quick to offer up one of himself. “Last time we were in Sackville it was my birthday the night going into it and they had these gigantic Growlers, they call them. It’s like 3 beers in one. And we played a great set to not too many people but they were so into it. There were people rocking out in the back. People knew our songs. And I got hammered.”
Devon emphasizes, “Tom got loaded.”
Tom agrees, “So loaded. Ended up going back to the place we were staying at…”
Zach interrupts, “No, no, no. He ended up emceeing the night. He got on the mic while they turned on, like, Rihanna and stuff. He was grooving. He was jumping on drums. He was singing. He’s playing a saxophone [pointing at Jeff]. I don’t even know where the saxophone came from.”
Tom continues, “Made it back to the place we were staying and I mowed 2 slices of pizza that were leftover from earlier. I tried to wake Devon up, but he had already fallen asleep. And I couldn’t go to bed because I was spinning, so I put on a pair of shoes and it was raining outside and I walked the campus for about an hour and a half. That was my birthday. It was fun.”
The guys agreed their shot of choice is a flaming Sambuca, which isn’t surprising since that was the shot they choose at the show we presented at the Piston.
Jane’s Party has a lot on the horizon, with a few shows coming up, including Kingston and Barrie. They’re excited to put out new music, along with some videos. On top of their “Alone Together” single, they’ve repackaged The Garage Sessions with new artwork (partially courtesy of their own Tom).
They had some final words. “Stay in school. Don’t do drugs. And if you see us at a show, come say hi.”
They also accept shots.
Oh and we came up with a tagline/slogan for the band – “We’re a band that cares.”
It’s better without the context.