Published Apr 22, 2010Victoria-based quartet Jon and Roy like to take it easy. Their last album, 2008's Another Noon, was a mixture of folk, reggae and hippie hip-hop so laid back that it was perhaps the best recorded representation of the Canadian left coast to date. Now, they've outdone themselves by taking Another Noon's rainy autumn vibe and replacing it with a "just chilling outside, man" summer feel on their recently released third full-length, Homes. And the guys in the band agree that it's a summer album... kind of.
"In many ways it is," says vocalist/guitarist Jon Middleton in an Exclaim! interview. "I think we play a pretty warm kind of music, which translates well into the summertime. It's definitely not exclusively summer music, though - there are no lyrics about barbeques or beach parties."
Drummer Roy Vizer adds, "Yeah, this album is all about enjoying yourself, outdoors, in all ways."
As far as the tunes being the epitome of the West coast, well, again, Jon and Roy - also made up of Ryan Tonelli on bass and Dougal Bain Maclean on violin and mandolin - agree. But for this disc, which was released earlier this month on Pacific Music/Warner, their scope of influence spread out.
"The Island and surrounding area definitely influences our music, generally," says Middleton, "but if anything, I'd say the music on this album was just as influenced by the travels we've been doing the last couple of years."
So influence came from elsewhere for Homes, but one big similarity between this effort and the band's last is the production. All these West coast atmospheres and summertime vibes could have been squashed by anything less than a perfectly natural sound, which Jon and Roy's latest certainly has. But don't let that fool you into thinking the band is all chill when it comes to the tunes; they work hard to get them sounding this relaxed.
"It's pretty relaxed overall, no question," says Middleton. "At the same time, on this album we spent lots of time messing around with different instrument parts, trying different things until we were happy with them."
Considering Jon and Roy have in the past reached such odd commercial plateaus as being in a Volkswagen commercial (the title track of Another Noon) and getting an invite to sing the national anthem at an NHL game, as well as a more predictable overseas tour with musical peer Buck 65, it's not out of the question to assume that with Homes, the time may be upon the band to take things to another level, career-wise.
"That's the idea, I suppose," says Middleton. "We wanted to make an album that showed our potential a bit more as a band, especially now, since we are a four-piece. We feel very proud of this one, and I think our confidence with our work on this album is stepping us up a level."
Vizer adds, "Well, we really are poised and excited to quit our day jobs, so, yes, we would like this album to take us to a level of success that allows us to just focus on music... and enjoy multi-layer dips."
But one nagging question remains: if this band is so darn laid-back and relaxed and feeling the West coast and all that jazz, why is there a song on here called "Get Myself a Gun"?
"You didn't know we listen to gangsta rap?" Middleton explains, chuckling.
Jon & Roy will be playing three shows in three provinces in three days this week, and a couple of BC shows in May.
4/22 Edmonton, AB - Starlite Room
4/23 Saskatoon, SK - Vangelis Tavern
4/24 Winnipeg, MB - Folk Exchange
5/14 Parksville, BC - Errington Hall
5/15 Tofino, BC - The Legion