Sometimes the best way to understand music is to see it without all it’s hyped up, appealing packaging. To listen to it without thinking about the production costs, the producer or the label that proudly stamps their logo on the CD. Sometimes it’s just better to listen to music in its most basic form, to catch only the pure energy, emotion and fervor. Some bands may have their ticket punched to greatness on the most technologically advanced ride possible, but as Junction 18 has proved, sometimes all you need to get from A to B is a sense of humor and a small orange cycle. With the success of their debut full length release “This Vicious Cycle”, this Massachusetts band has not only crossed state lines, but oceans and borders to spread their infectious angst and melody across the globe.
1. First of all, thanks for taking the time to share with us your work and music. How did the band first get together to write and perform?
We actually all met in rehab a long time ago, most of us were addicted to muscle relaxers but Chris was mostly into huffing things, so one night at the weekly rehab dance on Saturday nights the band that was playing got in a fight and quit in mid-dance, when the band quit everyone was really upset, then all of us kind of just got up there and started playing, next thing we knew we were Junction 18.
2. How long had Junction 18 been together before signing to Fearless?
A long, long time, I think since 1996 maybe, I don’t know.
3. Certain members of New Found Glory assisted in your signing to Fearless, how has the relationship been with both NFG (since their meteoric rise to stardom) and Fearless (since your signing)?
We played with NFG last April and they were cool, but we don’t really see them or talk to them much anymore. Fearless is on the West Coast so we don’t really talk to them much either, at least I don’t.
4. When I first picked up ‘This Vicious Cycle’, the thing that struck me the most were the beautifully poetic lyrics. The words paint pictures in my mind, what would you say are the strongest influences behind the words and who does most of the songwriting?
I don’t write the words, Andy does, I don’t really know what he listens to anymore, but on the first album the writing was done equally by the four who were in the band then, Ryan McHugh, Chris Kelley, Andy Bristol, and me Ryan Spencer.
5. Listening to this record is definitely an audio experience of incredible levels, describe the feeling of being on stage sharing this experience and how it was writing and recording them?
We wrote the songs pretty fast, we just built ideas off of each other and it went really well. It was kind of weird playing the songs at first because we were playing them and no one knew the words or the songs at all, the album came out months after we had recorded but it was fun playing them, we were very proud I recall.
6. What would you like the listener to understand most about the music of Junction 18?
I think people should look past the fact that yes, we do make a shitload of money and we do have the most bitches and 20 inch rims on our SUV’s, but we’re still people and we’re still here to make music, just because we’re poppin’ krystal and flashin’ bling doesn’t mean we don’t care about what we do, we do it for the fans, and the bitches.
7. There has recently been a lot of exposure for certain labels, both Vagrant and Drive Thru has seen mainstream success, do you think that the levels of exposure will inevitably lead to burnout and overexposure seen most recently by the ska scene and how do you as a band approach mainstream exposure?
Yeah, definitely, you can only have so many bands that sound exactly the same before people catch on. I hope it burns out because it all sounds like garbage to me anyway, it’s not original, there’s nothing memorable about most of the music that’s being made by those bands anyway, I can’t even tell most of the bands apart, and I just can’t understand how they can sit there and be satisfied with writing a song that’s already been written a million times. It all sounds like shit to me but the most I can do is not pay attention to it, I understand that it’s the hip sound now and that’s why there’s so much of it and that’s why it’s not special, it’s just disposable and it doesn’t matter how long it goes on for because it will never make a difference on music, well at least to me.
8. Massachusetts is very different from California, what differences (speaking in terms of the music and social scene) stand out the most in your mind and has the fact that your label been on the opposite coast effected the band in anyway, whether it be touring, writing or recording?
It definitely affects it, California is a different world than MA, we think different because we’re from here. MA is very different than any other state in the country. I’m more in touch with living day-to-day here but I think out there it’s more of a glamorous life, there’s way more to do out there and there’s a lot more going on. If we need something from them or need to get in touch it can be tough, because we’re 3 hours apart in time and 3000 miles apart. I think it has worked well most of the time but distance can definitely affect things.
9. What are the immediate and future plans for Junction 18?
Keep writing songs and avoid the FBI at all costs.
10. What would you say is the biggest accomplishment for Junction 18 and yourself are so far?
We’re from a really small town, so the fact that our music is available around the world is quite mind-blowing at times, I think we’re realistic and we know that we’re lucky. We never expected anyone to care about our music or even know about us outside of MA, so all of this together is quite an accomplishment for us.
11. What recent CDs have you purchased that really stand out as great work?
‘Amnesiac’ and ‘Kid A’ by Radiohead have been 2 of the only good pieces of music that have been put out in the last few years to me, obviously there are others but not any that speak to me as far as originality and progression go. I think music has lost a lot of creativity and ambition in the last few years and it will be a long time for it to get better, if it indeed does.
12. Spencer’s Pizza in Abington, the best pizza place in Abington?
You better believe it you silly bastard, we’ll fuck up any other pizza shop that comes around, and we’re the shit.
13. Aside from the obvious differences, what aspects of being in a band have changed since Fearless added you to their roster? It was obviously more difficult in terms of recording, promoting and spreading the word, but do you miss some of those ‘more innocent’ days before Fearless?
Well, before it was a hobby for us and now it’s a job, there are demands now, there are deadlines and responsibilities, and if you want to do it for a job than you have to have those things. I must say I don’t enjoy all the rashes though.
14. You’ve toured with some great bands and played some notable venues, what would say are your fondest tour memories to date?
My fondest memories were the shows out in California last summer with Dynamite Boy and the Stryder, it was an incredible atmosphere with people that we knew and enjoyed being around, and the shows were all great. After the shows Sean from Dynamite Boy would always treat us to the filthiest hookers, his treat of course. I remember waking up in a pile of puke next to Danny from Dynamite Boy and we both got up and couldn’t remember whose puke it was! Craziness!
15. It’s safe to say that Junction 18 is one of my favorite bands; it’s difficult to find good music in Asia, how important is it to you and the band knowing that people from the opposite end of the globe listen to your work and admire what you do so much?
I think it’s really fucked up, I never figured anyone across the world would even hear us so it’s a great feeling. Kind of tickles a bit, oh god, now it’s a burning feeling! Help!!
16. How important has the music been to the band personally, to record and release your hard work and then being able to share it with your fans?
It’s the most important thing to us, that’s the thing that brought us together and keeps us together. We all care about nothing else besides music. Music is one of the only things that’s real to me.
17. Would you personally prefer commercial success (large amounts of units sold, airplay etc) or is it more satisfying to have a fan see you after a show and tell you how much your music has effected their life and how important you are to them? How has the fan reaction been?
I could care less if we sell 100 or a million records, if you start thinking of things like that than you’ve lost sight of what music is about. If I’m not successful at music it doesn’t matter, because I can still have it in my life whether I’m listening to it or playing it, and that’s all that matters to me.
18. Finally, your favorite and worst moment since the release of ‘This Vicious Cycle’?
Best moment was rocking out with Mick Jagger on the last Rolling Stones tour, worst moment was the hit-and-run incident out in LA last summer, I’ve said too much.