Two of Tough Age’s members—singer Jarrett Samson and guitarist Penny Clark—will soon be moving to Toronto, but that doesn’t mean the power-pop band is finished. With bassist Lauren Smith and drummer Chris Martell holding down the fort on the West Coast, Samson and Clark will be racking up the frequent-flier points as the band wraps up work on a follow-up to its self-titled Mint Records debut, which has more hooks than a tackle box. Samson took a break from packing to answer our questions.
Best local release other than yours: “If I could get my hands on any of the Mood Hut stuff this answer would maybe be the new Jack J. record, but anyone who knows me won’t be surprised that I also think Shamebirds by Needles//Pins is pretty untouchable. It’s the perfect example of how to do a sophomore record, stepping up the first record and expanding on the sound—I love the weird GBV and Cars influences on it. Needles//Pins should be the biggest band in the world—they’re one of the few groups where I love listening to their records as much as I love seeing them live, and also they manage to be the best people.”
The year’s best gig: “How many people said Kraftwerk [at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on July 3]? I’m not going to be part of the problem too. My favourite show of the year was, in a conceited way, one I threw—we did a Tough Age tour kickoff as the last show at short-lived venue Heaven [on March 1] and had Jay Arner play, as well as our friends Samantha Savage Smith, Pinner, and Fountain. This was the first show in Vancouver for both Pinner and Fountain and I love both those bands so much, so to watch people lose their shit over them was not only very deserved but very satisfying. They just took that room apart and proved to Vancouver how good Victoria is these days.”
Best album ever: “Tony, Caro & John’s All on the First Day—it’s this insane, perfect weirdo freak-psych folky private-press record that’s gained a pretty sizable following over the years, and deservedly so. The songwriting on it is so bizarrely unlike anything else of its time or since, it’s all over the place with waltzes and weird heavy psych moments, slit-your-wrists bummers and amazing typically-abstract-yet-still-grounded lyrics. It also has this incredible, simple album cover—our next LP is cribbing from it heavily—so it’s a bummer the reissue cover is just ‘photo of the band with computer “typewriter” font’ .”
Jonathan Simkin’s paying—where’s dinner? “Ro Sushi [678 West Broadway]. We’d gather everyone we like, or vaguely like, or sort of know, and invite them for all-you-can-eat at Vancouver’s hidden sushi gem. Ro is what my friend Josh and I refer to as the perfect Sushi Triangle—quality, quantity, and price are all topnotch. At best in Vancouver you’re coming up light on one of those, but Ro hits them all with ease. They were closed down for a few years and I know many people that stopped just short of holding a candlelight vigil. Once they reopened and I found out they delivered to my apartment, my life was over.”
In the spirit of Jason Derulo’s “Talk Dirty”, who do you want talking dirty to you? “This is a hard question if you’re trying to avoid being a creep or overly sentimental. I’ll just say that I find talent very attractive and that I’ve loved Nxc Hxghxs’s music since I used to go see Channels 3&4 as a teenager. And now that he’s regularly wearing Peter Pan tights in N.213’s Group Vision I’m not complaining. I went creepy.”
You won Lotto Max. Where’s your club opening up? “The problem with a dream-a-little-dream question like this is that you might have a thousand great ideas of where to open a venue but good luck convincing the city to go along with it once you come back to reality’s outskirts. So, in my contained fantasy, I win the lottery, pick up the phone, buy 223 Main Street, and completely refurbish the Zoo Zhop as a functioning record store and venue. Then I’d sign it over to my friend David Mattatall and I’d go live in California, because screw it.”