When Jay Arner discusses the future, it’s hard for him not to get caught up with the details of his upcoming tours, albums and adventures. The same specifics are proving difficult to avoid, as Arner works on releasing his new self-titled album — his first truly solo recording — via Mint Records and forming his band in time for performances at Music Waste, Sled Island, North by Northeast, and July’s cross Canada and US tour.
The album has been a true test of Arner’s solo capability, as he explains behind Lucky’s Comics. “Playing everything myself is a goal and an experiment,” he says. “I always wanted to do that but I never had the guts to hog it all.” Jay illustrates his tiny Vancouver practice space, pointing at a dusty vehicle, saying “I played with all the stuff in this tiny room, about the same size as that SUV – its pretty cramped.”
The result was a lush and layered album that would be impossible as a one-man live act, so in between mixing the album and booking shows, Arner recruited his backing band. “Always follow through on drunk proclamations,” Arner advises. This turned out particularly useful for the recruitment of Evan McDowell, the newest member of his band. “Evan is the only person to ever ask to be in the band,” Arner recalls. “We were at a party and he was like, ‘If you ever need someone to play in my band, check me out.'”
Preparing for their tour has been another joyful burden, as Arner keeps contacts across North America. “I send emails all day, every day, for about a month,” he replies to questions of his schedule. “And I forget to eat.” The most daunting task has been planning dates east of Winnipeg. Arner recalls the difficulty of booking gigs in Northern Ontario, a common problem for most Western bands.
Yet all work comes with its own reward, as Arner looks forward to revisiting a favourite venue — the Apollo in Thunder Bay. “It’s a very classic Canadian tour venue. It’s where Apollo Ghosts got their name, because its haunted,” he informs me, ironically on the eve of the Ghosts’ last performance. “It’s this huge building, and the bands can stay in one of its many floors and many rooms. But all the rooms seemed like if some parents had a child and the child died, and they left the room like that.”
Jay Arner releases his self-titled album at They Live Video, with locals Tough Age and Space Bros, and Halifax’s Monomix, who Arner will be revisiting on the East Coast. On choosing They Live as their venue, Arner has fond words for Vancouver’s underground. “I love playing improper venue spaces,” Arner says excitedly. “I even bought a PA, and it works and you can hear stuff.” Since hearing their newest is likely on the to-do list of many music lovers, this comes as their best news yet.
Jay Arner releases his self-titled album on June 25.
By Mathieu YoudanBC, British Columbia