By Nicholas Jason Lopez
On June 15, 2020, Toronto pop-rock quartet Jane’s Party released the official video for their latest single “Change Her Mind,” which lyrically revolved around working through a long-term relationship over holding on to past ones or holding out for something better.
The track was produced by Carlin Nicholson and Mike O’Brien of Zeus, the band that served as a huge inspiration for the Jane’s Party members. To purposely capture a “naive youth” feeling in the music for the song, the guitars were recorded on a cheap, slightly out-of-tune Squier guitar.
Since then, the band has been active with livestream performances on their social pages and introduced a video series called “Making Of,” where they describe how certain tracks came to be.
The Music Bugle had the chance to talk with members Jeff Giles/Zach Sutton/Tom Ionescu from the band about what they’ve been up to lately and more.
Music Bugle – What excites you the most about pop-rock?
Jeff Giles – The most exciting thing about pop-rock is the fact that the genre’s boundaries seem to be ever-expanding. At one point in time, pop-rock was probably closer to what we now consider modern rock, whereas now anything with a hooky melody and electric guitars in the mix seems to fit the bill. It opens the door to more obscure textures and sounds while still adhering to the ideologies of a more widely accessible audience.
Tom Ionescu – I find most genre labels pretty unexciting and uninspiring, so what excites me most is blowing up that categorization altogether. It’s never really been what we’ve personally called ourselves and if we did, it was likely due to some kind of necessity. We all met and formed this band in University studying jazz and improvisation and that’s continued to be something that constantly drives our musical curiosity forward. Although, maybe in some ways, our pop-rock tunes have taken the spotlight, our catalogue includes acoustic/folk tunes, like our ‘Tunnel reVisions’ EP, some Brazilian-inspired music, like “Guns + Ammunition” and “Ciggy Buzz,” classic rock, like “Casual Island,” instrumental music, like “Surfing On A Sinewave,” alternative, like the ‘Tunnel Visions’ LP and even just straight-up pop, like “Straight From The Heart,” which featured Skye Wallace. These days, we’re most excited about trying out new sounds and uncovering sides to our band we haven’t explored yet. Our upcoming album is a push towards a “jammier” classic rock flavour, something we’ve flirted with for years and that tends to come out most in our live show. Getting to channel some of our biggest influences like The Eagles, Big Star, Wings, Bruce Springsteen and tailor a similar ’70s style studio recording experience, has been the most exciting part for us.
Music Bugle – What inspired your band name? Is there a real “Jane”?
Zach Sutton – Jane and Finch. A neighborhood in Toronto where the band formed when we were attending York University. We had a studio set-up in our garage, where we recorded our first album ‘The Garage Sessions.’
Music Bugle – What’s the biggest challenge of being a band with four members?
Jeff Giles – Deciding whether to go for one hotel room with two double beds or splurging and going for two rooms with two beds… dare I say, four rooms?! Maybe one day…
Music Bugle – What song of yours was the hardest to write or compose?
Jeff Giles – I would say the most difficult song for us to put together is probably one that is still in the process of being written and trust me, there are so, so many of those! It’s always a process of give-and-take, push-and-pull with four creative minds involved, but as difficult as the process may seem, the song always turns out far greater with all of us involved then it ever could have otherwise. “You’re The Light” took many shapes and forms over the years and probably required the most rerecords.
Music Bugle – How would you say the band has matured since its earliest days?
Zach Sutton – We’re most definitely at a different stage of our lives now and we’ve gone through a lot together. Our songwriting and performances have matured, but our spirit and creativity still have that initial spark that brought the band together.
Music Bugle – How have you been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Tom Ionescu – Losing shows and tours we had planned. That was the most demoralizing hit in the first week of the pandemic – just coming to terms with the fact that we’d be grounded in Toronto for the foreseeable future. Then, it was a matter of pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps and coming up with some kind of self-sufficient plan for the rest of the year. We’re no strangers to working on shoestring budgets and coming up with something from nothing, so it was a matter of motivating ourselves to stay creative, even as everything around was falling apart. Sticking to our plan to release a single gave us a hurdle to overcome and I’m still so impressed by the fact that we were able to.
Music Bugle – How would you describe Toronto to someone who has never been there before?
Zach Sutton – A wonderful place with great people, NBA champions and the best food.
Music Bugle – What has been the most productive thing you’ve done while in quarantine?
Tom Ionescu – We’ve had a chance to really focus on our online content. We’ve always kept a pretty steady stream of live videos, behind-the-scenes footage, lessons, demos, etc., but when the internet becomes your only way to connect with fans, you start thinking a bit more critically about what you put out. Our latest music video for our single “Change Her Mind” was done completely from quarantine and it was an exercise in getting the most out of unused B-roll photo shoots, home cell phone videos and learning new animation skills in Photoshop and Adobe Premiere Pro. We’d never really done anything like it before and if it weren’t for COVID-19, we’d likely had gone in a totally different direction with that video. The other thing was premiering live concerts on YouTube. Once the regulations permitted, we got together and shot a few live specials from my apartment, basically about as “live” as any other show we’ve ever played in person. Hosting it as a premiere on YouTube gives you the chance of having sort of front row seats to your own show and the opportunity to build a bit of a TV show experience around the performances. We feel like we’re just scratching the surface with this format and we’re really excited with all the ideas we’re drumming up for the Fall and Winter.
Music Bugle – What do you miss the most about performing in front of a live audience?
Zach Sutton – Everything!
Music Bugle – If you had the chance to travel back to this past New Year’s Eve, what would you tell yourself about 2020?
Tom Ionescu – “Make a list of a bunch of things you’ve always wanted to get around to doing and get ready for a year of personal development.”
Zach Sutton – “Get your YouTube channel up and running!”