Friday, October 13, 2017

Off the Record: A Quick Pow-Wow with Vancouver's Own Indie Darlings, Leisure Club

photo by Andrew Knapp

You know you're about to talk to a group of total gems when you ask them to open their set with the Jurassic Park theme and they promptly oblige, later on staying true to their word. 

Last week I sat down with the lads of Leisure Club for a quick chat before their set at The Waldorf here in Vancouver. With their music sounding so fun and carefree, I was curious to find out if the guys would be the same way, and lo and behold, they are. The group consists of Daniel Ruiz on drums, Jamie Smail on vocals, Rob Cameron on bass, Sean Bayntun on the keys, and Graham Madden on guitar.

The thing is, before chatting with them, I had it in my head that they were a beachy, surfy sort of act. Maybe I came up with this conclusion because of prior reviews I read, maybe I hopped on the bandwagon too quickly. This wasn't the case at all. Leisure Club are much more complex than that. In fact, they have layers to their music and influences that range much farther, much deeper than lounging poolside enjoying a drink with your pals. Hearing them live, you see the harmony of the band with a distinct sound you can't really peg.

I'm thrilled to let you all in on a casual chat, getting to know the guys behind the infectiously catchy tracks that you can't help but get absolutely addicted to. 

Paradise Playground: I want to get into your sound, since you're obviously influenced by surf rock, and then I also hear bits of mid-2000's Brit pop....Maybe I'm crazy, what do you think?

Leisure Club: Oh yeah, like The Libertines. Yeah we got that before a little bit?

PP: So what do you guys think about that, what would you define your sound as?

Jamie: Not consciously anything..I don't think. It just kind of comes out. 

Graham: Kind of a mix of bands we've been in before. Rob, Daniel and I, we were in a band that had lots of tropical influences. Jamie and I were in an indie-rock 2000's-ish band. And Sean..

Sean: Yeah I have been with a few bands that have gotten progressively more and more into the synthesizer kind of stuff.

photo by Andrew Knapp

PP: So what was the allure of adding Leisure Club into the mix. If you all came from different backgrounds was it the need for a stylistic change or...?

Daniel: No, I think it's a "vibe" thing. I think that that's also what happens with the music. Like we go more towards what we think would be a nice, groovy sound, that's not just fun for us but for everyone else. We try and keep it as open for all kinds of people. I think that's the main thing that transcends into our music.

Graham: Just absorbing everybody else's energy.

Sean: Just sort of feeling, "Where do I fit into this mix" like, everybody in this band has so much experience and really good musicality. So it's nice to be able to be in a mix like that. You know, where everybody is bringing bits and pieces of all of their influences.

Jamie: I think if you were to like, go to each of our record collections, it would be a surprisingly different, collection, for each different person. There would be some similarities but for the most part I think it's quite diverse what we all like and listen to.

Sean: I feel like in that vein the sense of ego in the band is really sort of collective. It's happened in bands in the past where somebody in the band or many people want to do what they want and there's no compromise, and it's not that this band is about compromise necessarily but it's just about everybody doing what they're good at and finding that space.

Graham: And letting everybody else do what they're good at. Like really understanding where everything should be on just kind of a natural level.

PP: Cool! Nice. And the mutual interest in a light, sort of surf sound. I mean you all grew up in Vancouver? It rains constantly. 

Leisure Club: Yeah for the most part, I mean we all grew up here except for Daniel.

Daniel: Yeah, I'm from Colombia. I guess growing up in the 80's, 90's, 2000's in South America we had a huge influence from North American music. Like, the whole pop culture thing. MTV was a huge factor of that. I grew up with bands that I can kind of relate to us, but then there is the all the influence of the music from Colombia that totally gets to me on a different level, and I still feel like I can incorporate that when I play with these guys.

Rob: but where do we get our tropical sound from?

Graham: I think it's the flip side of that. Growing up in Vancouver, we haven't been exposed to the music that Daniel has listened to growing up so like, when he starts playing all these Latin rhythms that are ingrained in his body, we're all just like, "Woah! This is really crazy." So we get to experience a whole different type of music then what we've seen.

PP: So, obviously inspired by summer, beaches, having fun, etc, what's your ultimate beach party? 

Rob: A lot of sun screen for sure. Protect yourself! 

Sean: Skin damage is no joke.

Graham: Bottomless Hey Ya'lls! 

Rob: What's that during a luau..where they bury it in the sand..?

Jamie: A pig roast.

Daniel: It also needs to be warm out!

Jamie: And no worries! I like going to the beach and not having anything to worry about and anything to do and just time to zone out and chill. Throw back some Y'alls, and just enjoy yourself like really drink it in. You know? 

PP: And next, I want to talk about your video for Still Young and that whole kaleidoscope effect. I thought that was really cool, who's idea was that and how did that come to be? 

Graham: we're working with this girl Brodie with the fuck / love clubAnd she pretty much came up with the whole concept. We just kind of let her take the reigns with it. I've seen a few of her videos just from Instagram and posts and seen them very like kaleidoscope-y, disco ball-esque images and i figured that'd be really cool for a video. That's all her. Can't take any credit for that.

PP: Again, a lot of your songs from what I hear are about lost love, falling in love, etc. So. Embarrassing date stories. Go.

Graham: I had a first date once. And the plan was to go on a bike ride and she was going to bring a bottle of wine, and drink it on the beach, and all would be good. I was in a financial bind at the time and just had this crazy spur of bills that came in...and I literally had no money. The point where I don't even want to check my balance because I don't even wanna look at it. So you don't even know how much money you don't have. And, we go on this bike ride, and we go on the beach, and she goes, "Oh I forgot the bottle of wine!" And she tells me it's okay, that there's this liquor store just nearby, and we go there, and she picks up this $9 bottle of wine, and I was like, "Okay...I have to at least try to pay for this."

Jamie: No!

Graham: Yeah...and I put the card in.

Leisure Club: Collective groan.

Graham: Yeah so I put it in, take it out....declined. And I was just like, see you later.

Jamie: Aw man I wish I didn't hear that.

PP: Well I don't think we can top that.

Jamie: I sure hope not.

PP: Very regular question for this blog: If you could soundtrack any film, what film would that be. 

Daniel: Okay well I just have to say right away, we would do it to Jurassic Park.

Sean: Well I've been practicing the Jurassic Park theme for a while..

Rob: Can you start the set with that tonight?

Sean: I will.

PP: Okay cool well, Jurassic Park it is.

Jamie: Nice one, Daniel.

PP: And the Vancouver music scene. How do you guys feel about migrating somewhere else? Just because I find a lot of bands either go to Toronto or LA.

Daniel: Vancouver is growing, and there's a lot of really, cool music happening. And there has been for years. And people are taking hints. People in Toronto are like "Oh, Vancouver has cool things." And down in the West Coast too.

Rob: It's been a bit of a sleeper scene for a while, and once in a while there will be an act to come out of here like Lights, or Japandroids, and there's a scene that fosters that and that has amazing groups and there always has been in Vancouver. And yeah I dunno, it's expensive as fuck to live here though.

Sean: I would never leave because the music scene wasn't good enough, I'd leave because I can't afford to live here. But I love Vancouver and I've been here most of my life.

Rob: And the thing is, the scene here is so ingrained in punk music and the DIY scene anyway that even when the genre isn't punk, there's this attitude that permeates the whole. If you go to underground or after-hours shows or whatever, the DIY bands and their vibe of the grassroots scene has embodied that sort of 'I don't give a bleep" sort of attitude which is really cool so the scene has it's own sort of character here.

Jamie: To answer your question...we plan on staying in Vancouver.

PP: Your first LP is coming out in November, so congratulations on that. What would you say that album is best suited for. Your listeners, what are they doing. 

LC: Thank you!!

Jamie: So far, a lot of blogs and articles and as you were saying, say that we're super beachy or a tropical vibe...but I don't necessarily hear that as much as other people do.

PP: What do you hear?

Jamie: I don't know..not beachy but...I don't know. Maybe I'm too immersed in the songs to really get an outsider's perspective.

PP: Is there anything you would define it as? Can it be defined?

Jamie: I think it's truly -  and I know people say this all the time -  but it really is an album that has a little bit of everybody in it. You can hear Daniel in it, you can hear Sean in it, you can hear Graham, you can hear Rob, myself, and it's all very kind of... there. So i think it's more a huge collaborative effort for sure.

Rob: You can listen to it while hanging with your closest friends, perhaps. You can be on a stoop. Maybe on the beach. It could be anywhere really.

Graham: We have been working on these songs for over a year since we recorded them, and we've listened to them tirelessly, and criticized them relentlessly, to the point where i don't even know if they're good anymore.

Jamie: They might not be. but, we'll see!

PP: Pre show drink of choice! 

Jamie: I'm normally two double vodka sodas and a shot of Jameson...and then another double on stage.

Graham: Tequila pineapple juice.

Sean: A beer or cider.

Daniel: Yeah depends on the show...I've been really into the tequila vibe for playing a hype show. Usually I drink a beer or two. 

PP: And finally, What are your plans for the rest of 2017, early 2018?

Rob: We've got a tour, the album is coming out on the 17th of November, and then we are leaving on tour on the 24th and kicking it off here, we play at the Biltmore, which hasn't been announced yet so, there you go! 

Daniel: Then an island tour, then we're going to do the interior and Alberta, and back. Then next year we're hoping to get down to the West Coast. 

Jamie: To LA and stuff.

PP: Cool guys, that's it!

LC: Thank you! 



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