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INTERVIEW: The Junior League

Hi Joe, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

I’ve been good, thanks!

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “On/Off”?

Yeah, “On/off”… I originally set out to do something that was kinda like Squeeze if they were covering a Gary Lewis and the Playboys song. My demo even had the same kind of piano/organ combination that you’d find on a track like “Count Me In”, which is a personal favorite. It didn’t come out like that–and most likely, for the better!!

Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

I don’t think so, but I know I was thinking about how ugly verbal arguments can be. Just because a fight doesn’t get physical doesn’t mean it isn’t violent. I respect people who choose their words carefully, especially when they’re angry, because most people don’t–and they can say pretty horrific things to each other. Some things can’t be explained away with an “I didn’t mean it that way”.

Any plans to release a video for the single?

Not at the moment. I’m not sure how that would work, but I’d like to see it!

The single comes off your new album Also Rans – what’s the story behind the title?

Well, maybe three quarters of the way through working on the record I realized that a lot of the songs dealt with characters that fell short somehow. I had the song “also rans”, which I wrote about the frustration of playing in a semi or unsuccessful band, and I realized that most of the songs were about “also rans”, you know, people who just didn’t or couldn’t win for whatever reason. So, I just called the whole thing “Also Rans”.

How was the recording and writing process?

Well I did most of the recording myself in my home studio. Occasionally, JJ (Murphy, Thee Shambles) would record with me there, but everyone else that contributed to the record did their parts at their respective places. I’d send them tracks and they’d do their bits. It was a very enjoyable, relatively painless process!! As far as writing, I had about half the songs written when I started recording. Some were a couple of years old. Some were restructured from old demos. The rest were written as I was recording.

What was it like to work with Jay Fergunson and how did that relationship develop?

I was a huge Sloan fan–I still am. I used to drive pretty far to see them play, and at the second or third show I saw them play, I guess around 1997 or 98, Jay and I hung out and chatted about music. We found we had a lot of common interests, so we exchanged addresses and stayed in touch, became friendly. He’s a great guy–very smart, very talented, very kind. He asked me how it was going with recording while I was working on “also rans” and I told him I had a song that I liked but was lacking the keyboards I’d wanted for it. He offered to have a listen, and next thing I know, he’s done these really great keyboard parts that make the song. I was really thrilled–and appreciative that he did it.

What live experiences get to inspire the lyrics on this record?

Bitterness, depression, spite. You know, the usual. Hahaha. No, seriously I either write about stuff that happened in the past, or maybe stuff that I know about but am not involved in personally. I overhear so much! Hahaha. Some of the songs are personal–“the Stars In Our Eyes” is personal to me. It’s about heading home from a relative’s place in Connecticut when I was a kid, sitting in the backseat, driving down the Hutchinson River Parkway, over the Throggs Neck Bridge, back to Long Island, listening to WCBS-FM when it was still oldies-oriented. An exercise in nostalgia, I suppose.

Any plans to hit the road?

No plans to “hit the road” per se, but I’m bouncing around doing some shows. I’m actually sitting in the airport now waiting to fly to NYC for a couple of shows. Maybe I’ll listen to WCBS FM while I’m there. I doubt they play 50s-60s music anymore, right?

What else is happening next in The Junior League’s world?

I’m actually halfway through another record, and hope to have it out next summer. Playing some shows as well. About to have a track on the new International Pop Overthrow compilation… just keeping busy!

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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