Jersey Refined and Defined
Published Feb 01, 2000Anyone who's ever tried to juggle two relationships simultaneously knows how difficult and challenging a feat it can be. Your attention is split and your heart isn't really fully into either one. Such was the case for Jersey's Greg Taylor, when he was dividing his time between two bands. As a member of cutting edge melodic hardcore heroes Grade, he was part of a collective writing and playing a brand of aggressive music that was more intense than it was fun. But in the roots punk band Jersey, he was the artistic force. It was his baby. When the time came, as inevitably it does, where he had to choose one over the other, the decision was clear. It was love over comfort and in 1999, Taylor officially left Grade to concentrate on Jersey.
"[Jersey] was more my own thing at the time and I was having more fun with it," he recalls. "I'm still good friends with the guys in Grade" both bands hail from the same town of Burlington, Ontario "but this was something I wanted to do more."
Over the years, Jersey has transformed from Taylor's side project into an actual band to the point where all members of the band (which also features guitarist Sean McNabb, bassist Johnny Lubera and drummer Ian Blackwood) are playing an active part in writing. "It used to be my thing, I used to write everything and now I'm only 25 percent of the equation. Everybody's writing and each member has made the sound what it is now."
Even though the band has released two full-length records in five years, it's the new EP, Definition, that Taylor says he's most satisfied with. It's a record that does as the title suggests.
"The EP is just a taste of what's to come," he says. "Everybody asks what we sound like and I always try to come up with some answer that's like a bit of this mixed with a bit of that. With this EP we kind of figured it out, that's what defines our sound right now."
For Jersey, finding that defining sound has been a long bumpy road. When the band first debuted, they incorporated horns and a female singer and were dangerously close to being just another ska punk band. Moving away from that sound toward a raw, Rancid/Avail brand of punk is something Taylor is glad to have accomplished.
"It started out as a natural progression but then it just became we didn't want to do [ska] anymore; it wasn't fun," he says. "Every band in our area was doing the same thing and we wanted to be part of something our own. We definitely had a lot of that kind of music but we never really considered ourselves to be one of those bands and it's a lot harder to do some things when you're labelled as that."
Something else that helped Jersey redefine its sound was to part ways with long-time co-vocalist Sarah Brooksbank, a move that Taylor admits needed to be made. "It wasn't really that tough," he states. "She definitely played a role in writing lyrics. When she joined the band we thought it would be cool to have a female contrasting doing some back-ups because I had harsher vocals. But as time went on she wanted to do more obviously. She had good days and bad days. She definitely improved a lot but she could never do the harmonies we wanted her to do. What it came down to was she wasn't really happy with what she was doing in the band and we weren't really happy with it either. It was a mutual thing. When we parted it was kind of weird but it kind of worked out for the better."
Jersey recently wrapped up 18 months of almost non-stop touring and is taking time to write a new album, which Taylor says is going "really well." They plan on being back on the road later this year.