Laid back West Coasters Jon & Roy have had a pretty admirable music career thus far, but it hasn’t gone to their heads. These modest, chill dudes keep the focus on creating with friends, sharing the music they love, and enjoying the ride. It’s no surprise that their music is soaked in an authentic, British Columbia vibe.
Their sound is rooted in Western Canada’s folk tradition, with a modern pop twist. Having taken a short break after their last tour, they are now back on the road and headed East, stopping in Montreal this Friday to play Club Lambi. Before they hit the road, I spoke with the Roy half of Jon & Roy about boat shows, bass player mishaps and their eclectic musical tastes.
Where are you guys originally from?
Jon is from Shawnigan, which is just outside of Victoria, and I am actually born and raised in Vancouver.
Did you have any musical idols or influences when you were a kid?
I can remember a lot of Beatles in the car, and Harry Belafonte, and all kinds of stuff, just like fun family music. I played a little bit of jazz as a kid on the piano and then I kinda stopped doing that, but yeah I don’t know, nothing that really stands out as definitive.
Do you have any big musical influences now?
With the new internet era, it’s hard to pin down one cause you’re – we’re both just listening to new stuff almost every day. We go through phases. We were listening to a lot of African high life music for a while, we went through a big reggae phase, some old blues for a while, yeah it kinda just moves in waves. We listen to a lot of hip-hop as well. When we go on tour it’s pretty funny, when we plug our ipods in, we always laugh about how people watching us right now would be shocked to see Jon & Roy listening to Dr. Dre or something like that. We just listen to a lot of different stuff.
Tell me about the new record you guys are working on.
Yeah we’re just kind of working on some songs, playing ‘em live and seeing how they develop live, yeah just trying to make time for it all, it seems like everyone just gets busier and busier, it’s harder to organize. But it’s good to be creating new music and we’re all excited to be doing a new album, you know, me and Jonny are, and our bass player as well.
Have either of you ever performed in any facet other than music, or performed other kinds of music?
Well, Jonny’s got his solo thing that he does a little bit, and me and the bass player have this hip-hop group that we just started recently. We’re just kind of getting off the ground now. I’ve been in some other bands and Jon’s been in some other bands, I don’t think any of us have done any sort of performance other than music really.
What are some the things lined up on your tour that you’re excited about?
I think we’re pretty pumped on this boat cruise we’re going to. It’s at our friend’s who is from around there and he’s planned it all and he’s got a really good boat, we’ve sold some tickets, so that’s gonna be fun. Toronto and Montreal we don’t get out to too often so we’re excited to play there…We’ve got some good venues, so that’s exciting. Ottawa folk fest is great. We’re just excited about getting out there and playing some music.
Do you have any crazy stories or mishaps that have happened to you on tour?
Crazy stories and mishaps… hmmm…I slammed the bass player’s finger in the car door by accident and uh, we had our bass player almost um, he actually choked on a burrito recently and had to be taken to the hospital, although he’ll probably be pissed that I’m telling you…but yeah, so he made it obviously, and we still played the show, but that was a bit of a scare for a few hours.
It sounds like everything seems to happen to your bass player.
Yeah the bass player is interesting, he’s a fun dude, but yeah I don’t know, me and Jon, I don’t know, nothing too crazy has happened…We’re pretty tame, we’re not really a party animal band or anything like that.
When you were growing up, did you always know you wanted to be a musician?
I think I, well I’m still kind of, I’m not even a full time musician quite yet. This is awesome and I love doing it and everything, but it doesn’t translate into a full full-time thing right now. I’m going to school actually in the fall to study to be an English teacher, and in another year I’ll be qualified to teach English in high school. I also work as a cook and I actually dabbled in journalism for a while, sort of all over the map. Being a musician you have to do a lot of things, you can’t just do one thing for the start at least.
What do you find people get from your music?
We’ve been told a lot that our music represents where we come from – Victoria, the West Coast, the islands, Vancouver Island – and that’s a really nice thing and a good compliment for us. I think if [we] can manage to do that, then I think we’re pretty happy.
What was the last book you read?
The last book that I actually finished was The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera. I’m reading Emily Carr’s The Book of Small right now and it’s pretty good.
If zombies were roaming the streets and you had a chance to get away from the cities and into the countryside, what would you put in your backpack?
What would I put into my backpack? I would put some books, some drums, some pot, a pen, and some paper.
Jon & Roy will be playing at Club Lambi at 9pm on Friday, August 26th (4465 St. Laurent) with local bands Lakes of Canada and Sunfields. For tickets and more info on the show, visit http://www.indiemontreal.ca/index.php
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