By James Olson
Jock Tears have come a long way since forming only two years ago. Bonding over a mutual love for the immediacy of the Ramones, these bubble gum chewin’ pop punks have toured Canada and the US multiple times and just celebrated the release of their debut LP, Bad Boys. For vocalist Lauren Ray, the band has become a much closer and tighter friend group while she has become a much more confident performer since she first connected with bassist Lauren Smith, guitarist Spencer Hargreaves and drummer Dustin Bromley.
“When we first formed, none of us knew each other very well. I knew they were all very nice people who I had admired and looked up to from seeing them play in other bands,” Ray says. “Now I can safely say that I love these three with all my heart and I feel so lucky I get to play music with them. I also personally am much less nervous as a performer.”
Over the course of the band’s relatively short existence, Ray has refined her skills as both a performer and a songwriter/storyteller. The concepts are loose lipped, fun and goofy, but not the kind of goofy that would get them kicked out of the locker room for doing towel whips. There’s a playful tongue-in-cheek element to the band that suggests there’s something there for everyone. Nobody doesn’t get picked to play on this team.
Not so much an anthem than it is the ultimate jock jam, the band’s crowning title track, “Jock Tears,” begins with a spoken intro by Ray: “Something about when a jock cries makes me want to cry too. It’s sad and it’s funny to see muscle men feel blue.” From this point on, the quartet has drawn a defining line in the sand to let you know what side of the joke they’re on in case you didn’t already know.
“A lot of lyrics are about having fun and being a rascal. For example, in a song called ‘Party Ice’ I reference the movie Permanent Vacation and I like to think about my friends and I being similar to the characters — bad boys but in a cool and rebellious way,” Ray says. “And then many of the themes and topics are about actual bad boys — the kind that break hearts, do bad things and have a lot of growing up to do.”
Bad Boys is the perfect distillation of everything that makes Jock Tears stand out in Vancouver’s crowded punk scene. Clocking in at a brisk 18 minutes in length, the record is snappy, sassy, and sharp.
“On this record we wanted to play faster and harder,” Smith tells BeatRoute. “We wanted to show those dweebs who thought we couldn’t totally rip it that they suck. There’s like this new confidence that is so pitted and powerful [on Bad Boys] that I’m really proud of.”
Produced and recorded by Rene Wilson at his home studio in Montreal, Jock Tears recorded 17 songs to analog tape, often doing no more than five takes per song, over a breakneck four days. “It was so fast I hardly had time to worry about any mistakes I made, which was a really positive thing because I already worry enough,” laughs Ray.
Promotion is already underway for Bad Boys as the band has a new music video in the works plus a final batch of Canadian dates planned to wrap up 2018.
As for 2019, Jock Tears have already set their sights on recording their sophomore release and performing at Dolly Parton’s theme park in Tennessee. “A while back we wrote a song about Dolly Parton that we’ve never released, and I would love to perform it there. I would also be open to writing an entire album about her,” says Ray. Look out Dollywood, here they come.
Bad Boys is available now via Inky Records.