April 19, 2012

Q +A: the Jimmyriggers

Bands are transient beings; people will always come and go. It’s just the nature of the beast.- The bassist, also one of the founders of the band, David Perce acclaimed. Montreal based alternative country band, The Jimmyriggers have undergone significant transformations in the past few years with the departure of their past members and the new addition of  Kevin Moquin and Lewis Handford. The quartet evolved not only as a band, but also its sound, while the budding chemistry amongst the members has enriched their tasteful melodies. With the last release, I Stand in the Weeds, The Jimmyriggers have been on the radar of many media outlets, including Exclaim! magazine, quoting them as "Canada's truest contribution to the alt-country genre." However, their quest has just started, while crafting their own sounds and  galvanizing their audiences. The members of The Jimmyriggers kindly answered questions for Music Psychos in the midst of their busy schedule. Check it out: 

1. What does the band name, “The Jimmyriggers” mean?

David: The word “jimmyrig” is an adaptation of jerry-rig, or jury rig. It essentially means to build or fix something without the proper tools. When I came up with the name, more than anything I liked the way it sounded. But it made sense for us too when we first formed the band several years ago. At the time we were a trio of musicians with diverse and somewhat dissimilar musical interests. But somehow when we played music together, we stood up, and sounded good. The band was essentially jimmyrigged.

2. The formation of the band (duo) was led by open mic sessions that David and Andre had participated. What was the biggest factor that made you decide to work with each other? What motivated you the most to work with him?

David: I can't say there was any one thing that made us want to work with each other, it sort of happened gradually.

Andre: We each collaborated with different musicians, and had our own separate projects for a short while between the time we met and when the Jimmyriggers first formed. But we often went to see each other's shows because we had struck up a friendship through playing at open mics.

David: What was noticeable about Andre from when I first heard him sing is the power in his voice, and its distinct tone. It blends well with mine. I suppose what drew me to want to perform with him was how good we sounded when we sang together. Then again, he makes everyone he sings with sound great.

Andre: From my perspective the band formed around the same time that alt-country was becoming a more important influence in my own songs. There weren't all that many people around that I knew who were interested in blending rock and country in a way that I didn't find kitschy or gimmicky. David's material seemed to suit mine fairly well, so it seemed natural to collaborate.

David: That’s a good point. Our tastes in music seem to overlap at just the right spot.

3. With the changes of members between the debut album, “Traveling Salesman, Killer on the Run...” (2007) and the new album, “I Stand in the Weeds”, (the departure of Ram Krishnan and the new addition of Kevin Moquin and Lewis Handford), what has been the biggest impact on The Jimmyriggers? What dynamic(s) has changed on the stage or live performance with new members?

David: Well the biggest change is that we’re now a four piece, so our sound is a little fuller. But with the benefit of hindsight I would say that there was very little impact on the band itself. We kept playing shows, and singing our songs, and having just as much fun if not more, only with different people. Bands are transient beings; people will always come and go. It’s just the nature of the beast.

Andre: It should be mentioned that before Kevin and Lewis came on board we'd already started to change our approach when working on new material. We played with R.D Harris for about six months before we even started working on the second record. And compared to the early years of the band we started to spend more time jamming and letting the song arrangements develop gradually, whereas in the band's first incarnation we tended to come up with our arrangements fairly quickly. So far the more measured approach has continued with Kevin and Lewis.

David: That’s true; there was a transition period after Ram’s departure where we took our time getting things organized before making “I Stand in the Weeds”. But since its release we've been on a few tours and I think we're starting to hit our stride. We also made sure to take our time to find the right musicians to play with. And both Kevin and Lewis fit right in, not only for their musical abilities, but also because they're great guys who are fun to hang out with.

4. How was the recording process of “I Stand in the Weeds”, with a producer, Mark Goodwin and drummer, R.D Harris?

David: It was a lot of fun. I personally learned a lot from working with Mark, somebody outside of the band who could listen objectively to our songs and find ways to improve them. And Robert was just the drummer we needed to make this record too. He worked really hard on our getting the right rhythm for our songs and I'm very proud to have worked with him.

Andre: Yeah, we benefited enormously from having Mark's input in terms of arrangements, instrumentation and composition (Mark wrote the string and choir parts), as well as his playing abilities. We took the care to develop the songs fully, and as mentioned Robert went to great lengths to ensure that each song had it own particular flavour in terms of the drum sound. While we tried to be as prepared as possible when recording the bed tracks we took a rather more spontaneous approach in the overdubs. The guitar overdubs in particular were a lot of fun - we had no real time constraints so Mark and I recorded a whole slew of things and just used what worked best.

5. How would you describe the difference between Montreal and Toronto music scene?

David: I've always been impressed by how willing people in Toronto are to support live music. This isn't to knock the Montreal crowds - there are a lot of people in Montreal who support independent music and we're extremely grateful - but it seems like if you placed a dance club with a DJ next to a live music venue in Montreal, the club would always win out.

Andre: There's some truth to what David is saying but there's also a lot more bands in Toronto, so I imagine it's more competitive. As far as playing goes, there isn't much difference to me.

Lewis: I find that there are many differences between the Toronto and Montreal music scenes. Montreal has a very definitive French music scene that is quite successful and self contained. Aside from the obvious bands like The Arcade Fire, Sam Roberts Band, and Broken Social Scene, who have had great national and international success, there are numerous francophone bands that have found a lot of success in this city and have a very strong Quebec following. These bands stem from a culture that has a long history of change and continues to struggle and maintain its French identity. I have only spent a small amount of time in Toronto but from my experience I have found that the music scene there has a strong connection to the rest of the country. There is a lot of history and connection to the great songwriting and performing talents of Canada such as Jim Cuddy and Greg Keelor, Gordon Lightfoot, Ian Tyson, Neil Young, and Dallas and Travis Good (of The Sadies) just to name a few. They have all spent time there and honed their craft in the local scene yet maintain that national “Canadiana” identity.

6. In the past, you guys have toured mainly in Quebec and the East Coast. Do you have any festivals or place/cities that you would love to play?

David: I like touring so I’m willing to load up the van and drive to wherever people would like to have us play. It would be fun to play SXSW...

Andre: Anywhere's fine I suppose, but I do prefer small to medium sized rooms and would rather avoid outdoor playing entirely.

David: I can understand that to a certain extent. We’ve played a few outdoor shows and the sound quality can be a bit unpredictable.

Lewis: I have had the pleasure of touring Canada numerous times and seen a very diverse number of venues and festivals. I absolutely loved the Winnipeg folk festival. I had the pleasure of seeing The Levon Helm band perform while I was there and I have to say that it is one of the best run festivals in North America. Aside from that; I find that theatre shows are the best venues to play. They have the ambiance of a large venue yet feeling of the room is very intimate.

7. Do you have any albums or artists that you are currently listening to?

David: Right now I'm spinning Sarah Burton's “Mayflower” (she's Toronto-based - go see her!). And Sarah Jane Scouten's “Magpie Waltz” is still getting a lot of airplay in my car.

Andre: Bob Dylan's “Time Out of Mind” and “Soul Journey” by Gillian Welch, but there's a vinyl record fair in a couple of weeks, so I think some garage rock or early proto-punk might be in order.

Lewis: I have a few artists I am listening to right now. Kathleen Edwards new album “Voyageur” is on steady rotation on my iPhone but I also am a vinyl addict and my latest record I am digging is Queen: Live. It’s a 2 record album from their 1979 European tour. They're probably near the top of my top 10 favourite bands.

8. What's next for the Jimmyriggers?

David: We've got a ten day tour of Ontario coming up at the end of May, including two shows in Toronto the week of the 21st. We're also keeping our fingers crossed that somebody drops out of the Montreal Jazz Fest because apparently we aren't too far down on the short list.

Lewis: We also hope to tour more around Ontario as well after these upcoming May dates, and we aren’t ruling out making a few weekend trips to the Maritimes throughout the summer.

Thank you guys so much! The Jimmyriggers are rocking out at Silver Dollar Room on Friday, April 20th with Lee Mellor and the Key Frames. What else can I ask for aside from good music and drinks on Friday night! I hope you can join me! 

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