January 08, 2009

Interview: The Just Joans

The Just Joans are a Scottish folk/indiepop band. A couple of years ago they released an album, Last tango in Motherwell, on Ivan Lendil Music. It was only through last year's lovely WeePOP! EPs Virgin lips and Hey boy... you're oh so sensitive! that I really started to know and appreciate the band, a sixpiece nowadays. With sweet melodies sung with even sweeter Scottish accents, dark humor and stories about love and small town teenage angst... how could I possibly not pay attention? Frontman David Pope gives us the chance to get to know the band a little bit better.

Hello David! The Just Joans have been around for over 10 years. How come we didn’t know about you until quite recently? What’s the story of The Just Joans so far?

In theory the band has been around for about ten years but for the 1st eight of those years it only really existed in my desperate imagination. I suppose the band only really became a reality about two years ago when I recorded some stuff and began playing some gigs with Chris, our guitarist. Over the next few years Doog, Katie, Rowan and Fraser all joined and suddenly we were a real band. Sadly, the band was far more successful and got more groupies when it was just a figment of my imagination. Sigh.

A lot of your songs are sad tales told with a sense of humor. On your myspace you list among your influences: unrequited love, nostalgia and waning potential. It seems bittersweet is your favourite flavour. Now, with two sold-out EPs, you’re officially a successful indiepop band! Does this mean we will hear a happier Just Joans in the future?

We are a deeply unhappy group of people with broken hearts full to the brim with sad songs! Despite the surprising but welcome interest in the band, it is unlikely that we will cheer up and write any happy songs. Don't know if people really want to hear happy songs anyway. I wouldn't want to hear some guy or girl singin' about a successful relationship. That's just boastin' to music!

What do we do now? tells us about the inevitable passing of time and what it does to us and the world around us:

"What do we do now?
Now we're ten years older
The bands we loved are dead
The bands we loved are dead
I'll always think of you whenever I smell cider
But it won't be the same, again"

How are these lyrics true for you, zooming in on just the musical aspects? Has the music you play, the music you like and the scene you feel part of changed a lot? Do you feel nostalgic about these things that stayed behind in the past?

It's funny how when you're younger, the bands you like seem to be a way of telling the world that "I am young and your world is mine!", then when you're a bit older the very same bands tie you to the past and tell the world that you are actually just an ex-britpopper whose youth and potential has faded. A bit like Bette Davis singin' on the beach at the end of Whatever happened to Baby Jane.

What do we do now? borrows a big part of its melody from Sleeper’s What do I do now? and you’ve covered The Cure’s Pictures of you. Was this the kind of music you were listening to when you were younger? What were other favourites or influences?

Influences... The Smiths, The Magnetic Fields, The Kinks, Belle and Sebastian, The Hector Collectors, 60's girl groups et cetera. All the usual suspects really. Oh and our drummer, Rowan, loves U2.

Hey boy... you’re oh so sensitive is a funny but heartbreaking tale of a stereotypical indiepop boy trying (but failing) to impress a girl. This reminded me of a discussion I read on an online forum a while ago about these stereotypical likes and loves of indiepop fans. Where do you think these come from? Are these somehow implicitly connected to liking the music? Of course I’m also curious: are these lyrics a result of personal experience?

Yeah, is funny how loads of indiekids seem to have similar taste in films and books and stuff. Do we like these things cos we're indiekids and feel like we should, or are we indiekids cos we like these things in the 1st place? It's the eternal question, what came 1st? The chicken or the indiekid? I dunno, I suspect that ultimately we are just peacocks clad in cardigans and showing off our ploomage of obscure records and French new wave films in the hope that it will attract a mate. I know I am, subtitles are boring!

You played at last year’s Indietracks festival. Did you manage to see some other bands as well? How did you enjoy your own performance?

Indietracks was great. We can't thank the organisers enough for allowing us to play. It has been one of the highlights of being in the band. We met loads of lovely people and saw some really great bands. Particularly The Bobby McGee's, Mexican Kids At Home, The Good-Natured and The Smittens.

What’s coming up next for The Just Joans?

We have a new EP coming out on Valentines Day this year. It's gonna be called Love and other hideous accidents. We were thinkin' of calling it 6.9 Love songs, cos it has quite a Magnetic Fieldsy feel. Is all songs of lost love and heartache... but there are a few disco bangers on it too! Apart from that tho we don't have many plans. Except for perhaps listening to obscure records, watching French new wave films and trying to attract a suitable mate. Sigh.

Thanks David, good luck with that!

The Just Joans myspace
WeePOP! Records
Ivan Landil Music

Download (right click, save as)
1. The Just Joans - Hey boy... you're oh so sensitive!
2. The Just Joans - Bellshill Station

No comments: