Callander Girl: How did the band Hard Drugs get started? What’s the history behind the band.
Jeff: It must have been sometime around 2005-2006, after Black Mountain’s first record came out but maybe before or around the time Blood Meridian’s “Kick Up The Dust” came out? I played guitar in Blood Meridian and our drummer and singer, Josh Wells and Matt Camirand, were/are in Black Mountain. My other band Black Rice had taken a permanent hiatus and Black Mountain were touring a lot so the rest of us from Blood Meridian had some time on our hands and free practice space so we started Hard Drugs. Our first jam was myself and Shira Blustein and Kevin Grant from Blood Meridian, and I also brought in my good friend that I’d done some screenwriting with Pete Dionne to play guitar and of course Jenni. We actually ran into Jason Dana on the street as we were walking from our car to the space and invited him to come jam and right there he ended up being our drummer. For those anyone unfamiliar with us I should point out that Hard Drugs originally started out as the title of a rock opera not a band name, and the band was put together to perform this rock opera that I was writing. Jenni and I were engaged at the time and I was basically trying to design a way to continue playing music that wouldn’t necessarily rely on touring and would be something that Jenni and I could do together.
Jenni: Jeff made me start a band with him so that we could have a fun shared hobby. My first experience with band practice was excruciating because I knew how terrible I was on the tambourine and the microphone, but all the people that love Jeff and wanted to be in the band with him sort of just put up with me for the first little while, Yoko style. The other day Dana complimented my tambourine playing, so that meant a lot to me!
A place (venue and/or city) that you haven’t performed or played at but would absolutely love to and why.
Jeff: I’d like to play more shows but I feel like playing locally more than a couple times per year is too much. It’s harder to tour in the winter just because it’s colder and road conditions can be sketchy but ideally I’d like to play nearby places like Victoria and Seattle more. I’m not the best booking agent though so that’s mainly the reason why we don’t.
Jenni: Jeff and I love San Francisco & the rad bands that come out of San Fran, so we’d love to play there. We toured home from Brooklyn to Vancouver, via the Deep South this past spring as a two-piece and had SO MUCH FUN that I think we’ll involve playing shows in every family vacation from now on.
What has been your biggest challenge as a band? Have you been able to overcome that challenge? If so, how?
Jeff: I think the biggest challenge that faces us as a band is being a band. Sometimes we play as a nine piece band which is awesome but very difficult to coordinate nine people for a show let alone practices for that show so sometimes we just play as a two piece just to make everything- from practicing to moving gear to touring- more simple. We have played with pick up bands and we had a backing band that we played with in New York where we were living for the last few years. We have also gone from being a group of musician/friends performing and recording a rock opera/concept album to a singer-songwriter/regular band that likes to make music. So I guess when I say our biggest challenge is being a band I mean maintaining some identity as a band amongst all of that.
Who writes your songs? What are common themes or topics for most of your songs?
Jenni: Jeff writes all the songs. Yesterday when we were jamming this new song he asked “is it bad that all the songs that I write are about you?” and I guess that was the first time I ever thought about our songs as a thematic whole. They certainly all aren’t about our relationship, but a lot of them are. When I’m helping write lyrics I tend to go in the direction of left field and then Jeff makes fun of me for trying to be weird on purpose. We wrote a few songs together when we were on the road in the spring. It was really fun for me, because I’d hum a tune and then Jeff would figure out how to play it on the guitar and then we’d jam on some lyrics and I’d play steering wheel drums & dashboard drums.
Your thoughts on the Vancouver music scene..the good and the bad.
Jenni: The Vancouver music scene is totally inspiring! As two people in our thirties, we sometimes feel like it’s tough to get out of the house to see a show & much harder to convince our old-ass friends to get out of their houses. And then one day you are walking around and discover a super cool all ages spot like Zoo Zhop, where the true spirit of independent music lives on! Now that we’re in the dinner party stage of our social development, I think it’s important to stay in touch with our punk rock house show roots. But only like once a month, because we’re really busy making babies and boeuf bourguignon.
Jeff: I personally need to start putting stuff on my calendar as soon as I hear about it or start buying advance tickets or something because last Saturday we went out with a couple friends to the Narrow and then just went home because we didn’t know of anything going on off the top of our heads. Then I realised today there was not one but two shows that I wanted to go to that night! Total bummer and I really only have myself to blame and maybe that’s the thing about Vancouver people call it “no fun city” but really I think people just gotta make more of an effort to find out, and/or remember in my case, where and when the fun is at!