By James Olson
VANCOUVER — Vancouver’s JPNSGRLS have momentum on their side. Last year was especially big for the eclectic alternative rock unit as Charlie Kerr (vocals), Colton Lauro (guitar), Chris McClelland (bass), and Graham Seri (drums) took the stage at Liverpool Sound City, SXSW, and BC’s own Pemberton Valley Music Festival. For Kerr, performing at Western Canada’s premier open air festival was a life changing experience. “Not only did we get to play this huge show for tons of people, it was a great opportunity. As we go across the country we find so many people who tell us that they saw us at Pemberton and after that became fans,” Kerr says. “Sometimes it takes one of those instances where the stars align. Sometimes all it takes is people seeing you at the right show.”
On July 22, JPNSGRLS drop their long awaited sophomore LP Divorce. Enlisting the efforts of David Schiffman (Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Mars Volta), Tom Dobrzanski (The Zolas), and Steve Bays (Hot Hot Heat, Mounties) to co-produce a handful of tracks a piece, Divorce is shaping up to be a significant step forward for the band. The band has matured in many respects, Kerr remarks that McClelland, Seri, and Lauro have become more inventive players. Kerr feels that his skill set as a vocalist and lyricist has improved in many respects. “As a singer, I’m pound for pound better. There are more ambitious vocals [on the album],” Kerr says, “As a lyricist, it was really important to me to get more personal and write something that only I could write, write something with my sense of humour and my politics and my life experiences, as mundane as they might seem to me. I met somebody who was really terrific and they inspired me to think that I was worth writing about without having to stand behind a cliché or sound like all the musicians and artists that I grew up on.”
The emphasis that Kerr places on personal reflection and exploration manifests itself in an intriguing deconstruction of the title of their soon to be released album. “The album title is a reference to in ‘Oh My God’ when I say ‘I was conceived in New York/ Two strangers planted a seed/ And that was four years before the divorce/ I think it had an affect on me.’ I kind of started looking at myself as if I was a character in a movie, as if my life was a film” Kerr explains. “I was looking at what my glaring flaws were and one of them was a very warped experience and a warped point of view of what love is, kind of an all or nothing sensibility and idealism. I was trying to dissect that and get to the bottom of it. A hypothesis of mine was that perhaps love is such a weird, twisted thing because I never got to see it between my parents. The origin story of the songwriter Charlie Kerr is that divorce.”
Along promoting and touring to support the new album, Kerr already expresses anticipation at returning to the studio to begin working on the next song cycle. “I think we’ll be busier than we ever have been and we’re really excited about that. Now I’m in a place where I don’t quite recognize the guy who wrote and sang all the Divorce material,” Kerr says. “That seems foreign to me so I’m excited to move on to the next set of songs that I’m writing.”
JPNSGRLS release Divorce on July 22.
FALL TOUR UPDATE: JPNSGRLS play Dickens Oct. 7 (Calgary),
The Mercury Room Brixx Bar as part of UP+DT festival Oct. 8 (Edmonton), and Light Organ Records Oct. 13 (Vancouver).