When the sands from the hour-glass fall, when the record spins. Do you cut off the lights and get closer? Do you understand completely? Do you shut the blinds and hide out? While the city is alive with ordinary people in an everyday parade. Remember this;
“Love will come around at the strangest time.”
Check out what Brian Buchanan of The Jubilee Riots had to say during our interview.
Where are you originally from?
I grew up in a town called Orangeville, which is about an hour northwest of Toronto.
When did you start performing music?
I started performing really early – my parents would have me play my violin in church, and my stepfather would back me up on piano at all kinds of small-town shows. On top of that, my mom was a high-school drama teacher and I would usually swindle a role in any musical she put on. I played the Fiddler in “Fiddler on the Roof”, Captain Von Trapp in the “Sound of Music”, even Magical Mister Mistoffelees in “Cats”.
“I am grateful that no footage exists.” “That I know of.”
Which instruments do you play?
I was classically trained as a pianist and violinist, then taught myself guitar in high-school. Those three are the only instruments I’d feel comfortable claiming I “play”, but I can mess around on things like mandolin, accordion, organ, bass – instruments that are derivative or structurally similar to the ones I’m comfortable with.
Describe your interests and abilities.
Interests and abilities… hmm. I really enjoy trying new things musically, so I often experiment with different genres and try to learn how they work. That’s all part of the reason our band is as diverse as it is – we all enjoy that experimentation.
“I always tell people our “genre” is “iPod on Shuffle”. Haha.”
It lets me operate kind of fearlessly as a musician, and to jump from genre to genre whenever I get restless. My girlfriend and I just recorded a System of a Down cover with nothing but violins and our two voices, then went and spent the night at an Irish session.
“It’s awesome.” 🙂
I think my classical upbringing has helped me a lot when I’m writing or arranging – I’m good at layering instruments over one another and having all the parts fit together. I usually need someone around who can tell me to stop.
“otherwise it gets pretty epic pretty fast.”
What famous musicians inspire you?
Anyone who is undeniably incredible at what they do, regardless of the genre. Someone like Chris Thile (of the Punch Brothers/Nickel Creek) is endlessly inspiring because he pushes against every boundary or limitation. Whenever I hear a musician or group do something musically that I’ve never heard before it’s incredibly exciting and I love deconstructing it later and seeing if I can incorporate the new ideas into what we do.
What are some of your best musical memories?
“Too many bests to count.”
I got to play a fiddle solo with Roseanne Cash and Richie Havens in a packed theatre in Ann Arbor, MI which was amazing. I’ll also always remember the first time I was thousands of miles from home and I saw someone in the crowd singing along with a song I’d written in my bedroom a few months earlier.
Some of my best musical memories have to do with sharing music I love with people I love and watching them react. That’s a special kind of communication.
Here’s a scary moment:
One time my band had to play at an end-of-festival finale where each band played just one song. There was no sound check, no rehearsal, ONE monitor – run onstage with your gear as fast as possible, play, get off. We picked a song that was pretty ambitious but we knew we could pull it off.
So our time comes, I run on with my keyboard and stand, set it up, plug it in, run back for something else. SOMEHOW in the intervening time, my keyboard had the “transpose” button hit, which shifted the entire keyboard a fifth upwards. Of course, I didn’t NOTICE that until we started playing… and the song features the piano very heavily.
So – instant heart-attack. We’re in front of a couple thousand people, being compared directly against all the other bands that played the festival, and I’m mentally transposing all the chord changes and thinking ahead to the piano-solo outro. I was just running sweat trying to stay ahead of it and not mess things up too badly. In the end it wasn’t too bad and I managed to hang in, but I got lucky – if the keyboard had been shifted to some other, less manageable key, I don’t know how it would have ended.
What public events do you have coming up?
It’s all on our site, www.jubileeriots.com/tour
what would you say to beginners in the industry, who are nervous?
I would say that a career in music is possible but difficult and that you need to really be honest with yourself about what constitutes “success” for you. If you need nice cars and private jets, go work on Wall St. If you think that doing what you love and sharing it with people and being able to live on the money you make sounds like success to you, then go for it with everything you’ve got. Safety nets are crippling to an artist – as long as you know you don’t HAVE to succeed, you can put off work or turn down gigs while you wait for your “big break”. Guess what? There’s no such thing. That’s Hollywood.
How do you balance your music with your family and friends?
By not having much of either. Haha.
Should we be expecting anything new to be released?
We just released a new album, Penny Black, which is available everywhere as of November 4th. We’ve got four music videos in the works as well and they’ll be rolling out over the next few weeks. Finally, we have a vinyl “companion piece” called Penny Red that we’ll be releasing soon, so keep your eyes open.
Where can we follow your career at?
Do you get nervous before a performance?
It happens, but it’s a good nervous these days. Anticipatory. I have enough faith in the guys around me onstage that I’m not afraid of mistakes or train wrecks anymore.
Do you attend jam sessions?
I do sometimes show up at open mic nights, and as a fiddle player a good Irish or Bluegrass session is always fun. Good sessions always have a competent (and sober) leader who can keep things moving and fosters an air of exclusivity.
Is your family musical?
Very – my mom’s side, at least. Every year there’s a family party where everyone gathers around a piano and we jam for hours. Six fiddles, guitars, keys, lots of singers, harmonicas… it’s really a lot of fun.
How do you handle mistakes during a performance?
It depends on the gravity of the mistake. Sometimes there’s really nothing you can do besides stop playing, laugh it off and start over. Most of the time if you’re well-rehearsed enough to be appearing in public, your mistakes aren’t THAT bad though. A flubbed note here or there keeps you human, and that’s part of the live experience.
Who’s your biggest supporter?
I have no idea. Ha-ha. I guess the safe answer would be my parents? I have a lot of love and support from a lot of really incredible people and I honestly can’t single one out.
What’s your favorite song to do and why?
It depends on the night and the venue. Sometimes if I’ve got a chip on my shoulder and I like playing the louder or angrier songs. Other times it’s the opposite. I love songs that get a crowd holding its breath, tension and release, that kind of thing. Drama.
Once, a couple of years ago, I got to play a song I’d written about a specific girl I was just head over heels in love with at a fairly intimate club, and she was there – I hadn’t seen her since I wrote the song, and she’d never heard it live. Even though our relationship was long over, there was something really beautiful and traumatic about playing it and locking eyes with her throughout. It’s not really a happy song – and there was this bittersweet feeling while I sang that stayed with me for days afterwards. That’s the power of music, I guess. I haven’t seen her since.
About Johnny Naylor:
Johnny Naylor is the founder and owner of 1st Shot Music and a feature writer for Jammerzine. His work can also be found on 1st Shot Music and Naylor’s Notes. You can also get his latest updates on his facebook page.