By Charlie Matthews
Way back in February I stated trading emails with Among Legends, a pop-punk band out of Waterloo, or Toronto…or Waterloo….they’re from Canada! When I hear the words “pop-punk” thrown out as a descriptor, I get kind of leery. When I think of “punk”, I still think Black Flag or maybe Youth of Today, and when someone says “pop”, I immediately think Michael Jackson and, nowadays, Taylor Swift. It seems to slip my mind that there are bands out there like Bowling For Soup and Blink 182. So when I played track one of “Starting Over”, I was kinda blown away. These guys fit exactly where they say they do. Right smack in the middle of the pop-punk scene.
“Starting Over” (out February 2017) is Among Legends 3rd release in two years. Well, one release was a single, but the other was their 2016, 6-song EP titled “Charles St. EP”. I really enjoyed “Charles St.” too. There was a lot more punk going on there. It may be that they were a little more Lo-Fi or maybe they were just figuring out the recording studio, but I like the loose feel. That being said, “Starting Over” is full of anthem-style songs that you would totally expect to hear from any band on a tour sponsored by Mountain Dew.
If you’re in Waterloo, you need to be looking for these guys. If you want to see them soon, check them out at Chain Saw on May 25th.
Among Legends is:
Sara - Drums
Anthony - Bass
Cameron - Guitar
Mitchell - Vocals
The whole band got in on the not-so-standard interview, which is always the best way to do this part!
1.How do you describe your music to people?
Anthony: I would describe our music as fun and energetic. Especially in our live sets. We want the people listening to jump, dance, and sing along to what we're playing. Keeping our focus on positivity and good times.
Mitchell: I usually bill it as pop-punk for fans who don’t want to be sad anymore. Like Anthony said, the focus is on the fun and the energy. We won’t shy away from some serious material, but the majority of what we do is meant to make people feel good and excited.
2.Tell us about your local music scene.
Mitchell: The Waterloo music scene is awesome and really diverse. It’s probably because of having 2 universities and a college so close together, so there’s just a ton of people excited about all kinds of art, music included. A lot of great bands have had their start around here: Courage My Love, Gold Finch, Wayfarer, Something You Whisper, etc. Any kind of music, it’s there. I just moved from Waterloo to Toronto, and the scene here is amazing too. I think it’s probably like that for a lot of big cities, but it’s really cool to be in the middle of it and start making a name for ourselves.
3.It is the weekend, who should we be checking out in your town?
Mitchell: Grab a coffee at Death Valley’s Little Brother to start the day. Settlement Co. is a great alternative if DVLB is full. When it’s nice like it has been this week, it gets me thinking about Kiwanis Park in north Waterloo. They’ve got this huge pool that’s built like a miniature lake, and tons of space to lay out and relax, throw a Frisbee, whatever. Then head to Uptown and have dinner at Abe Erb. After that, go to an indie show at Starlight, a rock show at Maxwell’s, or a punk show at Chainsaw.
4.What’s the immediate future look like for your band? Tours, festivals, working with other bands, etc.
Mitchell: Not sure when or if we’ll be touring, but we are trying to play as many shows as possible throughout southern Ontario! Cameron and I have been busy writing music, and we’re hoping to do a split EP with another local pop-punk band this summer. Also – this is an open call to any Ontario pop-punk bands who want to do a split with us! After that, we get to work on our first LP, which I’m hoping will be about 15 songs – so there’s a lot of songwriting and practicing ahead!
5.What's your outlook on the record industry today?
Anthony: To summarize it in one word, competitive. With recording equipment being so readily available and the magical powers of the internet, it makes it easy for anyone to put their stuff out there. You really have to stand out if you want to make it big.
Sara: I actually think some of those changes are great - music is more widely available, and social media has helped to break down the barriers between fans and the artists they love. Music hosting platforms and social media have also, in a way, leveled the playing field between big and small bands, making it easier to self-promote and distribute your music without necessarily turning to a record label. Of course, with all of these benefits come some drawbacks, primarily in the decline of music sales. For me personally buying physical media is an important part of listening to and supporting music I like, but I can understand the appeal of being able to stream everything you want for free. At the end of the day, the record industry is in a place right now and it'll be interesting to see where it goes next.
6.What three bands are you listening to right now?
Cameron: Trophy Eyes, Homesafe, and WSTR are the bands that probably have the biggest influence on songs we’re writing now. We’re really trying to expand our music in terms of dynamics and rhythm, and these bands all do an amazing job of that. They also have some interesting chord voicings that have really inspired me to incorporate less traditional chord into my playing that hopefully are going to help us break away from the generic sound that people associate with pop-punk.
Sara: I've been listening to a ridiculous amount of Bad Religion recently...I just can't get over how amazing that band is. To be in an active punk band for over 30 years is a feat unto itself, but to keep releasing new and interesting material is pretty incredible. I really admire that they continue to produce new music, even though they could easily tour on a few hit records from their earlier years. I've also been listening to Ottawa Ontario's Crusades. Crusades are a melodic punk band that have been getting heavier and more technical with each new release (see: Propagandhi). They just released a new record "This Is a Sickness and Sickness Will End" that pushes their sound further away from their original pop-punk tag...it's definitely worth checking out. Finally, I've been enjoying music from Night Birds, who play snotty surf-influenced punk rock. It's great, and for me their 2015 release "Mutiny at Muscle Beach" is their best work yet.
7.What is that one piece of equipment you can't live without?
Cameron: I recently got a Loud/Louder pedal from Chadderbox Effects. It’s classified as a boost pedal but it does so much more than that. It transforms any amp into a massive wall of sound. Unfortunately, I didn’t have this when we were recording “Starting Over”, but you can expect this to be a big part of future guitar tones you’ll hear from us.