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Formed in Ottawa, Canada; the trio, dad sports, burst into the bedroom pop/indie/alternative music scene with their most recent EP I AM JUST A BOY LEAVE ME ALONE !!! In this charming EP, the band explored what it was like to be young and in love through songs like "out 4 a breather,' "if u want to !" and "name & place." Other songs on the EP like "gf haircut," "nrvs again" and "MANY FACES" also helped facilitate the concept of the ups and downs of being in love at such a young age. Together, guitarist/vocalist Miguel Plante, drummer Keith McDonald, and bassist Alex Keyes allowed the listener to take a step back from their normal day-to-day lives, and relive some key moments of growing up.
Each track on I AM JUST A BOY LEAVE ME ALONE !!! moved in a soft, fluid motion that effectively enabled each track to synchronize, and naturally run after one another. This made it difficult to choose a favorite track off the EP because they each complimented each other so well.
The track "out 4 a breather" was an excellent song to introduce the EP because it not only set the overall tone of the project, but it also helped reflect the attitude, and unique sound the band has. Lyrics in the chorus of this song, "Do you know my name? I think you're kinda cool. Do you wanna hang? Maybe after school," created a nostalgic feeling of crushing on someone, and asking them out. Whereas the following song "if u want to !" took this idea a step further, and presented the listener with the lyrics "If you want to, I'll be here by your side. And if it's through, I'll fade into the lights. It's not like you could see through every line. So I'll melt into your skin, as if I never really was there" to show how young relationships can move from 0 to 100 in a matter of seconds.
Track three "gf haircut" and track four "nrvs again" were superb addition to this young, naïve, love story due to the themes they exhibited about over-thinking, and moving on. As said earlier in this review, this EP is a reflection about being young and being in love; something that is often quickly ignited, and then out in a flash. We get these feelings of anxiety or overthinking in "gf haircut" when Plante quickly sang the lyrics, "Don't you think the weather's been kinda off lately? I really hope that I'm not driving you crazy. Is it my hair? Is it a problem?Do you wanna cut it? It's just like Pavement when they wrote that song about this (Stop it)." Obviously this problem of over-thinking and anxiety led to how the girl "left the room in a minute" during "nrvs again" and is the "reason I can't sleep at night."
Wrapping up this EP were the songs "MANY FACES" and "name & place" in which the band's sound cranked up, and the feelings of moving on were solidified. In "MANY FACES" Plante sang "I think I'd rather stay alone for a little while. I'll try to recollect my thoughts. They're all over your bedroom floor. And I can't seem to find a door," essentially making the statement that moving on is difficult, but necessary. Whereas the vibe of "name & place" was similar to the somber feelings of an end of Summer romance. This was reflected through the lyrics, "Will I still be around for you, in a year or two? Why do I never feel? It's almost like this isn't real. But I still see you so, and you still see me too."
Overall, this EP was an exceptional piece of music for the band to release, and quickly found it's way into many listener's playlists. Continue reading for a full interview with the band, and be sure to stream I AM JUST A BOY LEAVE ME ALONE !!! now available on all major streaming platforms.
The band's first single "dog cuddles" was released in 2018, what year would you say the band officially formed in?
Plante: "Not in 2018, when that demo was uploaded we weren't a band yet. It only made it onto Spotify in like May of 2019, that song. Me and Alex came up with dad sports kind of as a joke or a bit. We were trying to come up with the most indie band name we could come up with, and I was posting random demos I was making in my free time online, and I named my SoundCloud to that just as a joke. It just kind of stuck around. I think we really started doing the band thing for real like the Summer of 2019, and then we uploaded all the stuff to Spotify then."
What made you guys want to come together and form the band?
Keyes: "It's all happy accidents. Miguel taught me bass because I didn't play bass before. Then we started jamming together and realized that we needed a drummer, so we got Keith in there. Keith didn't play drums either. We got a show offer at one point out of the blue and we were like, 'Wow, we're so bad. We have to practice!' and that's when we realized we were a band."
McDonald: "I had a kit as well, I just didn't have anything to use it for until I was in a band. At that point I picked it up when we did practice. Then we practiced more and more at each other's basements, and then we realized we were a band."
Plante: "Nothing particularly. Keith didn't play drums, he played Rock Band drums. I didn't teach him drums, I stayed off that one. He did his own work. We never got to play our small local shows because we really picked up over the pandemic. Before then we just played small cafes and stuff, less than 10 shows."
Miguel, I take it you've been playing music the longest in the band?
Keyes: "I played piano all through high school. I've played since like 7th grade, but then I was doing curling at the same time. I was playing a lot of curling, and I was like 'Okay well I'm not doing enough curling and I'm doing too much piano so I gotta stop playing piano.' But it was pretty causal back then too. I didn't know any guitar or any bass until after high school."
Plante: "My dad had a guitar when I was a really young kid, and I remember sitting down with the guitar on my lap and just hitting open notes when I was like three. I've been recording for a long time and teaching myself and recording myself in like sixth grade – my dad put some recording software on my computer – and I was like 'okay I'll learn this.' I always did it for fun, I never really thought to do music as a career until it picked up in 11th or 12th grade. I was like 'okay I guess I'm doing this more than a normal person should be.'"
Alex would you say that you're a pro curling player out of the three of you guys?
Keyes: "[Miguel] used to play curling too, so it's really funny. Different leagues but we had rival clubs. We didn't really know each other."
Plante: "I hated [Alex's] team. We were in rival curling clubs but yeah we didn't really know each other. It's not like everybody in Canada plays curling – it's a very specific sport. It just so happens that we both played it."
Your new EP I AM JUST A BOY LEAVE ME ALONE !!! was released on March 19th, and is about a week and a half old. How do you all feel about the EP now that it's out?
Keyes: "There were a lot of roadblocks too because of Covid obviously. So it made it a lot harder. Now we're together at Keith's house, we're living with his parents."
McDonald: "I think we were shutting down in late March. So it was like just when lock down was starting – we were going to each other's houses, so it was difficult during that period. So we are pretty happy that it's out and that we can write new stuff." "
Plante: "It took like a year to make and it was a really interesting process because we never really had a deadline for music before. We never had somebody say, 'You need this song by this date, and then we need a video and a photoshoot.' It was interesting because we had to learn how to go through that. We signed to Grand Jury last summer and before that we put out songs just whenever we had one. In that sense it was a very like – we had to learn a lot about ourselves in that way. I'm sure you know what I mean. Our first two singles for the EP were actually dropped almost a year ago. 'out 4 a breather' came out in May of last year and then 'name & place' came out a month later. We had those two songs finished before Covid, and so we were just writing songs and jamming together and stopped when Covid started. We thought it would be like a couple months, and we all saw how that turned out. It was a long stretch between May and October, the EP was on the table but we couldn't meet up and work on it together. We also lived really far, me and Keith lived at the other ends of Ottawa like two hour bus if we're taking public transit. It wasn't really convenient. We had a long stretch where we didn't know what was going on, and our stuff got picked up by Spotify at some point. People for some reason started caring about our music and we ended up working on the second half of the EP during the fall. I've had the album art for the EP finished in December of 2019 and we had the name as well. The name and art were the first things that happened."
How did you come up with the name for the EP?
Keyes: "I guess it kind of reflects on the way we text in our group chat. It seems like something we'd write in reply to someone else. For us it just rolls off the tongue. It wasn't over thought at all, I don't remember who brought up that name, but we just went with that."
Plante: "We don't really know what we're doing. That's about it. Adam did the album art in 2019 and the single art, and cassette art – all that stuff. It was a really upside-down process to do the album art and album title, then all the songs."
Is the cover art supposed to reflect one of you sitting down? His hair style is pretty similar to the way you guys have yours.
Keyes: "When that album art was made we had all different hair styles. It's not any of us in particular."
Plante: "It's a boy, he wants to be left alone."
What are your favorite tracks on the EP and what makes them stand out to you?
Keyes: "I'll say 'nrvs again' if I had to pick one. It's got a really great bass line we wrote, that song was the first song off the EP we wrote and that riff has been around for a super long time. We've played that song in a different structure live when we did play shows. I know that playing that song live is always the most hype."
McDonald: "Mine is probably 'MANY FACES' for me it's the most energetic and the one I feel the most passionate for. I really like how simple it is and how when we were writing trying to strip it back in a way. I was writing about angels or some shit."
Plante: "Any big word on the EP is all Keith. I have like a fourth-grade vocabulary and then he comes along and throws along big words. My favorite song would have to be 'out 4 a breather' because I think it's the first song where I got the vision of where I knew what I wanted this EP to sound like. Then every song followed that."
Most of the tracks the band has released like "nrvs again," "so be it in my dreams," and "if u want to !" are in lowercase, whereas the song "MANY FACES" is in all caps. What made you guys want to capitalize this particular track?
Keyes: "All the tracks have something funky in them. 'out 4 a breather' has a four in it, 'if u want to !' has the exclamation point. We had a contest back in May to chose the title for 'name & place.'"
McDonald: "'name & place' used to be called Christie but we realized after awhile that a lot of our songs were named after the first lyric."
Plante: "Every song title has its own quirky thing going on. 'MANY FACES' was really loud so we capitalized on that. A lot of it is whatever the file name is when we send files to each other, 'nrvs again' ended up being spelled that way because when we exported the first demo that's how we wrote it, and it felt weird not to call it that way."
What is your songwriting process like?
Keyes: "The story about 'gf haircut' is that we got our haircuts by our girlfriends at the time, and now we're both stuck with it."
Plante: "For the EP songs a lot of the ideas except for a few tracks started as demos I had on my computer and I brought them to the band. During a writing session we would flush them out, I feel like a lot of concepts of our lyrics are made up on our own and then we all bring what we have together. The only song that I think wasn't written like that was 'gf haircut.' Me and Alex just sat down and wrote that, we were both stuck with our ex's haircuts."
Many of the songs on I AM JUST A BOY LEAVE ME ALONE !!! have corresponding music videos aside from the songs "out 4 a breather" and "if u want to !" Are there any plans to create music videos for these songs as well?
Keyes: "All the shots of Miguel with a bowl cut and me with long hair are from that 'out 4 a breather' video."
Plante: "We were making a video for 'out 4 a breather' right before quarantine. Before that we were recording some footage on a hand-held video camera. And we didn't get around to using anything, but we found the footage before we made the 'MANY FACES' video and a good chunk of that video is from when we were filming 'out 4 a breather' so I guess in a sense there is a video for 'out 4 a breather' it's just hidden inside that video."
Miguel, in the song "out 4 a breather" you sing, "Carrie said that we don't have the time, to ever make it matter. Held on the stakes I'm slipping away, she'll never like me that way." Can you explain to your listeners who Carrie is, and the significance she has in your songwriting?
Keyes: "I don't think we know a Carrie, we knew a Romeo but he's a scumbag."
Plante: "That's an interesting one. I feel like whenever I write songs I would always present my experiences through characters or through me talking in third person. So I would make up characters that are not necessarily real people, but they represent things. That song is about crushing on someone, and being a kid telling someone that you like them. I guess in that song, Carrie represents young love, but is also unimportant because you're just a kid, but in the moment it feels important. I guess it represented that more."
What music video on the EP was your favorite to make?
Plante: "Two of the videos on the EP we were in a Zoom call with the director, Noah Keckler he did 'name & place' and 'nrvs again' is in Chicago. Obviously we couldn't go, so we worked remotely on the videos. We didn't know what to expect, as far as we were concerned, we could've gotten like a school project kind of thing. But what he sent back looked straight up like a movie. Obviously, we kept working with him and paid him. I trust his creative vision. If I had to pick a favorite it might be 'MANY FACES' half of that video was shot like 30 hours before we had to submit the video. We were lazy about it and then realized that we had to shoot, edit and send out the video. We had to rent a camcorder from some guy and then bring it home and use that. It was a challenge, but it was a lot of fun because we just went out for a couple hours with a camcorder. I always wanted to do a candid video because everyone has seen a video with just a band playing their instruments, so we wanted to do something different."
Keyes: "Noah Keckler DM'd us one day and was like 'Hey can I make a video for you?' and we were like, 'Okay sure, do what you want.' He's super talented."
McDonald: "We knew the plan was to splice the video for 'MANY FACES' but had a bunch of trouble putting it all together. We bought the wrong cables, and took awhile to transfer."
Was there any significance behind the words "mom athletics" and "cat snuggles" that were on the on the Gladstone Theatre sign at the end of the "gf haircut" music video?
Keyes: "Nice eye! It's just funny."
Plante: "The director Mark Holmes put it there and I guess it's a play on words for dad sports. He was like, 'I can put anything on here that you want!' and we never thought of anything. There are a couple Easter eggs in the 'nrvs' video, there are a few references to a few of our other music videos in that one."
Who was the extra guitarist in the music video for the song "romeo?" Will they ever appear on more work by the band?
Plante: "We had a fourth member awhile back, it was our old guitarist. It kind of just ended with them."
Your profile on Grand Jury Music's website states that you guys are, "hard at work on a debut full-length." Could you tell your listeners more about this new album you're working on?
Keyes: "It's just the next step we're taking. We just released an EP so we're not that far into it I guess. It'll be a new experience, especially since we're living together now."
McDonald: "One thing I'll say is that we're starting the material from scratch. We were rehashing all those songs off the EP for a year or longer. So to go in with a fresh mind and conceptualize something in a short period of time is always nice. Hopefully whatever comes out of it is good. I think it'll be interesting to see."
Plante: "We're writing it right now. Normally on the album, it's a very step by step process, but the EP was one song, one recording, one video, one promotion cycle and then repeat."
Can fans expect to see the singles "this must be the place," "dog cuddles," "so be it in my dreams," and "romeo" on the new album?
Keyes: "The charm is how they are as demos, if we made them sound like the EP it would be weird. The charm is the lofi-ness."
McDonald: "We don't have a plan on reworking them. At first, we wanted to, but it didn't work."
Plante: "I don't have any plans to touch those again, I feel like I don't see those as much as band songs as much as the other ones. 'so be it' and 'dog cuddles' were just demos I made in my bedroom, we didn't write them together. But 'out 4 a breather' feels more like dad sports."
You have some merch out on your Bandcamp page like earrings, a cassette tape, and a smiley dad sports hat. What other merch do you guys plan on releasing?
Keyes: "Probably the end of April. We had some shirts before."
Plante: "Our manager is bugging us about it. He's asking too. There will, there will. We made some shirts about a year and a half ago, but we have none of them left. We're gonna make some cool stuff."
Are there any plans to press the new EP onto vinyl?
Keyes: "Not for the EP, but who is to say for the album? We love vinyl, it's just so expensive."
Plante: "I don't think we have any plans to do that right now. Me and Alex used to really be into records, then we went into CD's and tapes. We had shelves full of records and then we realized it's just so expensive. I'm already spending so much money on recording equipment. You can rewrite a cd or a tape, so it's more of an exciting medium for us. Even with the EP we thought of tapes first."
How does it feel to be signed to Grand Jury?
Keyes: "To get that call was really something special for us. It was really weird, and the people there are fantastic."
Plante: "It's pretty good, all three of us are pretty bad at procrastinating. So in that sense it's really good, it gets us to actually put out stuff. It's our first time being signed to a label, and it's weird because we listened to a lot of their artists."
What artists are you influenced by?
Keyes: "Just '90s alt."
Plante: "I mean if we're talking to general influences, we were listening a lot to Pavement when we were writing. It's not necessarily a thing of sound, I just like the spirit of how they did it. They're not trying to take themselves too seriously, they're just having fun. They're really cool."
Are there any plans for the band to do a livestream show?
Plante: "We do want to record some live session stuff. We may or may not be recording some live session stuff. We thought about doing an Instagram live awhile ago, but I don't know how I feel about it. It feels weird playing to a phone, I don't know if I like it. I saw that it was a trend for bands to Instagram live, but I've never once thought that I wanted to buy a ticket for those."
Keyes: "We can't say too much more because we just started working on stuff. American Football did a Minecraft show, but Instagram feels weird. If it were Lego Star Wars or something that would be cool."
If you were each stranded on a desert island, what album would you need to have with you?
Keyes: "If we had to pick for Keith, OK Computer by Radiohead."
McDonald: "To answer for both of them, I would say the Brown Horse EP by Spencer Radcliffe for Miguel. And for Alex it could be a lot of things, but right now it would be a Smog album, maybe Knock Knock. That or something by Arthur Russell."
Plante: "I know the real answer for Keith, The Glow, Pt. 2 by the Microphones, he likes folk."