By Colin Gallant
CALGARY – Songwriting-driven indie rock band Old Apartments is made up of chief scribe, vocalist and guitarist Joel Learoyd (Serious Clouds, We Knew, more), old friend and collaborator Ted McCormick on bass, plus pals Lauchlin Toms (guitar) and Dylan MacLeod (drums) of Port Juvee. Their debut release is a set of contemplative, sometimes emo-inflected songs musing on the search for a fulfilled identity. In recent years, Learoyd’s passion for music was ushered back to a hobby basis in order to prioritize a more stable life path. However, he went under some personal changes and turned Old Apartments into a fully realized band with a completed release under its belt in under a year. We spoke to Learoyd to get a look behind the curtains.
Hi Joel! What happened in your life that brought music back into a sharper focus?
In 2016 I experienced the death of a family member as well as a close friend. This coupled with the end of long term relationship pushed me to reexamine who I was and how I fit into the world. The music I am currently making is an expression of that search.
That idea of posing a question and exploring your own answers sounds like a bit of a trip. Can you tell us more about how that works?
The act of questioning oneself and seeing the different aspects of issues in one’s life is something most people do on a daily basis. Then, when we create, there is a desire to make statements or convey strongly held beliefs, which is also natural. In my music I allow the ambiguity of self reflection and the conviction of the subject matter to interact with one another. The duality of the known and the unknown is at the heart of Old Apartments. Not only in the lyrical content, but also the structure and nature of the songwriting. I enjoy letting the songs go where they want to and I’ll follow closely behind, voice recorder and notepad in hand.
Let’s talk about Old Apartments’ debut release, Last Year. How would you explain the decision to release a song book vs. a record or tape?
I decided to release Last Year as a book of lyrics for a few reasons. In an increasing digital age, most physical releases only serve people’s desire for tangibility and the collection of artifacts, with the arguable exception of vinyl. By including a digital download with the book you can present the music and an artifact and it still retains its function.
Lastly, and most corny, I have to ask about the name. There have been a lot of Barenaked Ladies jokes.
BNL will always have a soft spot in my heart. They are so confident in how uncool they are, it’s almost patriotic. The name is in no way inspired by their ‘90s jam, but I can only hope to one day make a music video even close to as good as the one for “The Old Apartment.” It may be the single best representation of popular Canadian rock music videos in the ’90s.
Old Apartments release Last Year on December 1 at The Palomino. Prior to that, they’ll join us November 9 for Issue Release Party #12 at Local 510.
Local 510, Old Apartments, Songwriting, The Palomino