Boys Night Out

author PP date 20/11/06

Canadian Boys Night Out is slowly but surely transforming into one of those 'cult' bands amongst a very small but very loyal following on both sides of the pond. The band has written one of the best concept albums if this decade in the form of 'Trainwreck', a deeply troubling story of a man slowly losing his sanity told both from his and his doctors' perspective. The band was on their first ever UK headlining tour so it was only appropriate to get a hold of the band, and Ferret Records sat me down with their lead singer Connor on their London date at Barfly. One of the many stereotypes about Canadians is that they're all really nice and easy to get along with, and Connor definitely lived up to that stereotype by being of the friendliest, most eager guys I've had a chance of interviewing to date. Combine this with intelligent answers and you've got it all. Connor tells us about writing of "Trainwreck", performing it live, his hatred of barriers as well as tells us a bit of their new album that they will start recording in January.

RF.net: First of all, please introduce yourself to those readers who may not be familiar with you.
Connor: My name is Connor, and I sing for Boys Night Out

RF.net: You had great success especially in canada with "Make Yourself Sick" and it's pop punk/hardcore fusion - why did you choose to write a concept album instead of continuing on the lines of "Make Yourself Sick"?
Connor: I think we just got bored with where music was at, and there about a billion bands that sound like stuff in the vein of "Make Yourself Sick". And it was more just something to keep ourselves amused and to have a good time.

RF.net: Much of "Trainwreck" is as deep as many contemporary literature..
Connor: Oh wow, thank you.

RF.net: How did you write "Trainwreck"? Do you guys just read a lot of books or?

Connor: Oh man, Jeff and I are both bookworms. We always have our heads in books, every drive we do we are reading a book, like just everything, always.

RF.net: Anything in particular when you were writing the album?

Connor: Umm.. While we were writing (pause, thinking), I was reading a lot of J.D. Salinger but there was nothing that really sparked that. It was based on a short story that Jeff had written actually, and then he and I sat down and separated into twelve chapters essentially. Then we put it in point form what would happen in each song, and then I just sort of wrote lyrics around the point form.

RF.net: What inspired you then for the actual story?
Connor: What inspired him I couldn't say for sure, but in a broader sense we've both always been more fascinated by humanity's darker side, you know, the evil that comes from seemingly ordinary people either by accident or by purpose. And serial killers in general. [laughter] Always been something I've been interested in.

RF.net: Considering the vast difference between "Trainwreck" and "Make Yourself Sick", did you know how to fit the instruments to the story or did you have to re-fit them accordingly causing the change in sound?
Connor: No it really just sort of worked out. We sort of went along as we went. Some of the songs that were on "Trainwreck" we'd started writing very shortly after "Make Yourself Sick" was done. It was a very gradual progression.

RF.net: So did you have to rewrite the lyrics?

Connor: No

RF.net: So you immediately had this concept?

Connor: Oh no like musically. There were songs musically that we had the music written for

RF.net: So you basically did the lyrics around the music?

Connor: Yeah.

RF.net: The story can be understood on many different levels depending on how closely you listen to it - did you intend the story and the character to have as much depth as they evidently have?
Connor: Oh yeah absolutely. We wanted there to be something not that you listen to a record once and then be like 'Ah it was fun' then forget about it. We wanna make something more when you listen to it again you're like 'Ahh I didn't realize that'. Or there's like little clues in other songs to what's gonna happen there, and little throw backs in other songs. You get to know the character a little piece by piece.

RF.net: Does relate to your personal lives at all?

Connor: Definitely. A lot of it. As for me writing the lyrics, I mean I had gone through a hard break up at the time so you know, just transposing loss of a girlfriend to death of a wife, it's a huge gap but in sense of writing it's not that far. Loss is loss.

RF.net: Did you know that your character in "Trainwreck" fits perfectly into the Freud's psychoanalysis theory - repression regression etc -
Connor: I did not [looks impressed]. I've never studied any psychology myself.

RF.net: So that wasn't the intention?

[interrupted by PP's phone ringing - how unprofessional - question sort of 'dies out']

RF.net: 'the lines i wear around my wrists are there to prove i exist' occurs in several songs through the disc - can you elaborate on this line.
Connor: Literally, it's just the idea of him tracing the lines on his hands, and then cutting off both of his hands. But also just the idea of.. sort of sense of living through pain, like the only way to truly feel alive is to like experiencing some feeling, more than pain.

RF.net: It's been over a year now since the release of the album. The consensus around the internet is that "Trainwreck" is the one of the best concept albums of this decade.
Connor: Really? Well that's nice of them! [looks genuinely looks shocked - in a good way]

RF.net: How does that sound to you?

Connor: That's super nice, I had no idea!

RF.net: If you look on this past year now that it's been released, what do you think yourself?

Connor: I don't know man, we don't really think about it a lot. We just write what we write and have a good time. We definitely don't take this too seriously. Especially within the genre that we're placed into. It's a very [inaudible] scene, kids, everything is a flavour of the month and stuff like that, so we just write to keep ourselves entertained, and if other people can latch on, cool, if not, we'll keep practicing.

RF.net: Do you consider yourselves 'scene'?

Connor: Not really. Do I look like.. haha (Connor is dressed very UN-scene, normal clothing)

RF.net: How about musically?

Connor: Musically? I like to think we do offer little something extra, but I mean it's definitely aggressive music, sometimes there's screaming sometimes there's singing, but, i mean, we never think about it too much.

RF.net: Moving onto playing the album live - how do you execute the songs live as playing bits and pieces of it would not make much sense lyrically?
Connor: There's only been a couple of tours where we've actually been able to play the full record front to back, live. And that was tonnes of fun, but because of the way everything is, kids get furious when you don't play old stuff. I mean not quietly like [mumbling] 'these guys are fuckers'. I mean aggressively like [almost shouthing] 'you've fucking ruined my life, why didn't you play something from this record!!' so we just mix it up. Now we just play them as songs, and leave the concept to the album itself.

RF.net: Do you think you'll ever play the record in its full in Europe?

Connor: I hope so. I wanted to do it on this tour, but as soon as we got here and we started playing the set, people were more upset that we weren't playing even older stuff, so it's a good thing we didn't just do "Trainwreck", we'd be followed and flogged.

RF.net: When you are singing the songs as the character, what kind of emotions/thoughts do you go through? Is it difficult to put yourself into 'his shoes'?
Connor: It's.. not really [laughs]. I'm a little bit of a psycho myself. But I mean, it's second nature now, I've played that character for over a year now and in the studio recording. It just comes natural when I'm on stage. Find where the songs need to be.

RF.net: How about in the beginning?

Connor: In the beginning it was just a matter of getting angry, or just figuring what it would be like to be in the situation. It's like getting in character to play a movie, you know what I mean? Especially recording the album, and with the producer Machine, I would do a song, and he would say: 'I don't believe you, I don't believe what you're just saying'. And like.. 'allright that didn't really do it'.

RF.net: What makes a great Boys Night Out show?
Connor: In my opinion just connection between us and the audience. I HATE BARRICADES. HATE THEM. Hate playing a show when there's a gap of five feet or more between the stage and the audience. There's no need for that. The whole point of a live show is to have a connection between the audience and the band. If I can't get in there and get sweaty with them, it's almost like there's no point. Just people singing along, and making sure people are enjoying themselves. Because there's nothing worse than people just being up front all stoic and stone faced.

RF.net: But with that you're saying that you're not too keen on progressing too much further than this level of fame? Naturally, if you don't play this venue again (Barfly): Barricade.

Connor: Oh, but I mean there's barricades at even smaller shows, and some larger shows we've played, like massive shows, have not had barricades. But I wanna take this as far as we can. I'm happy where I am, but I have no problem with getting bigger or doing more. Because the ultimate goal i think for any band is to play to as many people as you can, and to have them hear what you're doing. But I do hate barricades. With a passion.

RF.net: What has been the greatest BNO show and why?
Connor: The greatest show?

RF.net: If you can think of one?

Connor: That's a good question. I think.. probably.. there's a show we played on a west coast Canadian tour that we did recently. It was at a nice, small venue, and it was in Whistler, British Columbia. It was just a nice small venue, kids were right up front, everybody was sweaty as hell, and it felt like... it just felt like the days when I was playing in hardcore bands when I was like 16-17 years old, that was amazing.

RF.net: How about the worst?

Connor: Worst Boys Night Out show? Oh there have been so many [all laugh] One of the hardest things we ever did was actually last time we were here (UK) with Less Than Jake. [speaks with great nostalgia, smile on his face] And those shows were massive, between 1500-3000 kids, who did NOT want to hear Boys Night Out at ALL. They wanted to hear ska, punk rock and we were not that. We had lit cigarettes thrown at us, and shoes and bottles and cups and everything, just kids being like 'get off the fucking stage'. That whole tour was pretty hard but it was hilarious, because we just started playing off it, cause truth be told I like hecklers. I like to yell back at people. That was fun, but it's hard to keep the energy up when it's just constant negativity.

RF.net: I think this is one of the questions that burns most in the heads of our readers - tell me everything about your next album!
Connor: Yeah! [laughs]

RF.net: In a brief!

Connor: It's not I mean.. I don't even know where to begin with that. It won't be a concept record. It'll be just a collection of songs that we've been writing over time. There'll be a lot more groove to it, some sexy songs on there

RF.net: James Brown?

Connor: Ohh, you better believe James Brown baby. There'll be some stuff that's heavier than music we've ever done, and some stuff that's a little more groovy and just feel-good, maybe not lyrically, but musically. Because I don't think I'm capable of writing very happy lyrics.

RF.net: Would you say you're then falling back towards your roots more, or is it some sort of advancement from the current sound?

Connor: No it's definitely forward. We're never gonna be that screamo band again, so people can get that right out of their heads now, no we will not make another "Make Yourself Sick".

RF.net: When can we expect to hear new songs?

Connor: Hopefully before the end of the year, with any luck. We're going to re-record the first thing we ever released, the four song album called "You're My Canvas". So we're re-recording those four songs, revamping them a little. We're putting two new songs that will on, and a cover song. So that should be with any luck before the end of the year, perhaps early January.

RF.net: Okay. How about the actual new album?

Connor: The songs that are gonna be on there will be on the new album so those will be the first ones you'll hear, but we won't be recording probably until January for the actual album, so.

RF.net: Have you chosen a producer yet?

Connor: We're in the process of.. we've got it narrowed down to a couple, and we're just seeing who we get along with the best.

RF.net: Are you recording the same way as this album. Because I've noticed that on "Trainwreck" you did drums at this studio, guitars at that studio, vocals that studio, mixing at that studio.

Connor: But! They were all in the same building. All the studios were in the same building. It was just a matter of going to different spots. This one, I'm not sure. If we want producer X, who wants to do drums and bass in one part in the US, and then come back to Canada to do the rest of the album, producer B wants to do it all in the US, some wanna come up to Canada, who knows.

RF.net: Do you have plans for a wider European tour. We would really like to have you in Denmark!
Connor: No! And it's killing me! Because I want to go so badly! We've done the UK three times, and it's always fun but I.. I'm in a band because I love to travel. I love it. I thirst for it. I hate being at home and doing nothing. I wanna go, I wanna see Europe, I wanna be there, I wanna do that, I wanna do Japan and Australia.. I wanna go everywhere but there are no hard plans yet. We're focusing on doing the record.

RF.net: What are you guys listening to right now?
Connor: A lot of The Band, who are just like.. we all love them. They're mostly Canadian one American member. Just country rock band from the 70s.. CCR, um.. Bob Dylan. More modern stuff: the new Converge record is fucking amazing. And.. I'm trying to think what we have been listening to.

RF.net: Any british bands? or Danish?

Connor: The thing is I never know where bands are from. Ah! I've only ever heard one song but I like that song by The Streets. That's a fun song.

RF.net: Which one?

Connor: Fit But You Know It. [all laugh]. It's a fun song man I like it! I don't know, usually I just have my iPod with me and just when we're driving I pop around, in my sleep, I listen to a lot of Joanna Newsom, who is a young lady from San Fransciso. It's just her and a harp. It's amazing. I love it.

RF.net: What is the single most discouraging thing about being in a band today?
Connor: I think there seems to be no soul in it anymore. And that may be a blanket statement but whatever, it just seems like a lot of people who just wanna throw on some eye makeup and go out and pretend that they're angry as hell. And people eat it up, it just seems like.. and you have to fit into that to go anywhere! People that are involved with us, like be it label, management whatever. Not our current manager. But they've said 'you guys gotta play the game a little more, you gotta dress up a little nicer, you gotta look the part.' Well that's not us. So I think it's just people feeling they have to fit a mould to be something. I think music should speak for itself.

RF.net: This has been a hot topic for years now - what is your opinion on people downloading the albums from the internet?
Connor: All for it. I love music downloading. I think it's great. For me.. I will always download a record first. Always. If I truly love it, then I will go out and buy it. And it's always nice to have the artwork, it's great to have everything there. But it just seems there's so much just absolute treit(?) being put out, that you gotta have a sample first. But yeah, I'm all for, I support it!

RF.net: What about leaking of the albums in advance? For example "Trainwreck" leaked a few weeks in advance.

Connor: I get bummed out when albums leak, only because a lot of the times they're not getting a taste of what the album actually is. A lot of times what will leak will not be completely mixed or not completely mastered, I think people are just missing out on the big picture. But download it all once it's out, absolutely.

RF.net: Lastly, tell us something you haven't told any other interviewers before.
Connor: I have a remarkably small penis. [all laugh]

RF.net: I've read that before somewhere!

Connor: Really? I do brag about that I think. I don't know!! What haven't we told anybody.... I don't know! We have really nothing interesting to say that hasn't been said yet.

RF.net: Thanks for the interview, the last words are yours:

Connor: Buy our new album.. and thank you!

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