Urinals: L.A. punk fixtures take the piss

Friday 22nd, June 2018 / 09:00
By Tory Rosso

Sanitized for your protection

CALGARY – With a career spanning over four decades, John Talley-Jones has seen a lot change on the scene but has spent the majority of that time playing music with minimalist punk pioneers the Urinals. The Los Angeles-based band will touch down in Calgary in June.


BeatRoute: So, when you started the band in 1978 in the University of California, Los Angeles Dykstra Hall dormitory, you were performing as a five-piece parody of punk rock?

John Talley-Jones:Well, none of us really knew how to play. We couldn’t really take it seriously and yet we discovered that we had a talent for it, or an approach that was quite unique. That seemed to lend us an air of legitimacy.


BR: How have the changes in the general musical climate impacted you over the course of your 40-year career?

JTJ:I think what you have to do is look at each time frame as a different era. When we started in the ‘70s we were responding against a culture of easy listening and highly technical music. Originally we were recording and releasing 7-inch singles. When we got back together in 1996 our stature had grown, people were reading about us and, of course, when the Internet happened, everything sort of exploded.


BR: Given that volatile history, what kind of audiences have you been seeing at your recent shows?

JTJ:I would say it’s more young kids than people who were listening back then. It depends on where were playing; in Los Angeles it’s typically an older demographic. When we played Paris a few years ago it was a mix of young and old. People who have been listening to us forever now have kids and they bring their kids to shows. It’s really cool. I like that a lot!


BR:How do you account for your professional longevity in such a rapidly shifting scene?

JTJ: What has kept me interested is the constant sense of discovery. I’m still learning about song writing and song expression and as long as I can surprise myself by coming up with something unexpected, then it keeps me interested and involved. So, I think the song writing is really what does it for me. From my perspective, my advice to young musicians would be to do it because you’re passionate about it, don’t do it because you think you’re gonna make a career out of it or make money from it!

Urinals showcase their minimalist punk aesthetic with Leather Jacuzzi and guests on June 29 at The Palomino Smokehouse and Social Club [Calgary]

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