-Interview- Among Legends (4/29/16)

Among Legends talk about their formation, the Canadian music scene and much more.


From: Kitchener, Ontario, Canada
Sounds like: Pop/Punk

1. How did you get started with music and how did you develop your sound? Who thought of the name “Among Legends” and is there any meaning behind it?

When I (Mitchell) graduated university and moved into my own apartment, one of the most exciting things was realizing I wouldn't be annoying anyone if I brought my piano back out. So I started re-learning how to play piano and the amount of fun I was having was sort of a gateway into starting the band. I connected with Mackenzie, the rhythm guitarist on the Charles St. EP, and we played pop-punk covers for about half a year before bringing Anthony in on bass. In November, when we started making plans to record, we decided that a lead guitarist would add that final dimension to our music - really round out the sound - so we brought Cameron in about six weeks before we hit the studio.

We always wanted to be pop-punk. No doubt about that. I love the energy of true punk rock, but I've always gravitated towards the more melodic side. We want the music to be accessible, to have a strong melodic focus and pop sensibilities while still holding on to that amazing energy and DIY ethic that only comes from punk rock. For the EP, we basically each chose a few styles of music that we really like outside of pop-punk, and tried to fit those elements in. So for this release, you hear from classic rock influences, some poppy love-song influences - even some funk.

Among Legends was the name we chose because we couldn't decide on another variation. I wanted it to just be Legends, but the guys thought that was WAY too confident for a fledgling band. They were probably right; not every band can pull a Kanye and storm out of the gate claiming to be the greatest thing that has ever happened in the history of music. So we chose Among Legends because we want to play alongside our musical heroes - the true Legends.

2. What do you want listeners to take away from your "Charles St." EP?

Charles St. is our experimental pop-punk-ish debut EP. It sounds like a million different things because we all love so many different styles of music. First and foremost, we want listeners to just enjoy it! It's high-energy, we think it's pretty catchy, and it represents the beginning of something that we think could be really amazing. We really hope the songs will get stuck in listeners' heads, and we hope it convinces people to come see us live!

I listen to the EP while running and it's got a pretty sweet flow to it - good for a workout. Let the whoas in "Electric" carry you across the finish line!

3. What can people expect from your live show?

It's really high-energy. Tons of extra stuff that doesn't make it onto the recordings. Singalongs, guitar solos, extended intros and outtros, a few cover songs - everything just comes together live. I'm stuck behind a drum kit, but the other guys get really into the songs; there's jumping, headbanging, AC/DC-style stalking around the stage. These guys put on a good show. We're thinking about getting something that shoots business cards out into the crowd. I suggested tossing maple syrup into the crowd when we play in the States, but maybe that's dangerous. Come to our merch table for non-airborne maple syrup (maybe).

4. What's your favorite track to play live?

Anthony: "The Wall" (new original, not a Pink Floyd cover).
Cameron: "Half Past Nine" (new original).
Mitchell: "Flatliner" (obviously the other guys are really into the new material).

5. Who are three bands you’d like to tour with?

Anthony: The Arctic Monkeys.
Cameron: Seaway.
Mitchell: Less Than Jake.

6. Any crazy show stories?

The craziest story of all is that our debut show is on May 6 at Maxwell's in Waterloo, ON. Then we play Toronto on May 16 at the Smiling Buddha. Maybe we'll have some crazy stories after that. Broke my foot at a ska show once. That was wild.

7. What’s your take on the current state of pop-punk?

Pop-punk gets a bad rap, and I don't think the critics are wrong. I have to tread lightly, because Cameron's the biggest pop-punk fan in the world, but our band ethos is about changing the conversation within pop-punk. The genre is overwhelmingly and, in my mind, embarrassingly negative towards women - even though the listener base has traditionally had a higher percentage of female listeners - and there's a lot of despair and anger in the lyrics. We think pop-punk can be more than that.

We write songs intended to inspire positivity, progression, and growth. We don't write songs that sit in the middle of heartbreak without moving. We start there and push forward, encouraging listeners to push forward with us. We will never write a song that blames women for men's problems. There are shitty individuals who might cause pain and destruction on their own, but more often than not, relationship problems are caused by both people who can't figure out how to work through issues.

It might feel nice to hear a song that reinforces the idea that a breakup was entirely the other person's fault, but many times, that's simply not true. Music is such an amazing tool for people who are struggling or feeling something profound, and we want listeners to know that pop-punk doesn't just have to mimic their feelings - it can work with them to help them overcome struggle. I like to pitch us as pop-punk for people who don't want to be sad anymore.

8. What’s the current music scene like there in Canada both locally and country wide?

Canadian music is amazing, and the music scene here - at least in our part of Ontario - is thriving. We have Canadian Music Week coming up, which is bringing thousands of artists to Toronto. We have NXNE in the summer, which is similar to SXSW - again, hundreds if not thousands of bands. Warped Tour isn't coming to Canada this year, but that might be because everyone's going to Montreal in June for Amnesia Rockfest, which has the greatest lineup for any mid-20s music fan. The Canadian dollar is pretty low right now, which I think would make American bands more likely to swing through.
CBC, a staple in Canadian media, just wrapped up its Searchlight event, which was designed to give emerging artists the opportunity to gain exposure and hone their craft. And there are a ton of grant programs that will give artists and bands compensation for creating new music - assuming they want to put in the legwork to apply. The opportunities here are huge.

9. What’s your take on legal/illegal music downloading?

It's a reality, and there's no point in railing against it because it's not going anywhere. If the music industry's business model has to change, well, it's good for businesses to understand how to adapt to changing markets. Bands should also operate like businesses and watch the market. If they can't sell music the "traditional" way, find another avenue. Branch out. The ones who are passionate, creative, and truly meant for the industry will find the challenge exciting and rewarding. There's never been a disruption-free industry in the history of business. Everyone has to adapt at some point.

10. What’s next for Among Legends?

Shows and writing! We're focusing on making the live show the best it can be, and once we've played our upcoming stint of performances, we'll be back to creating new songs. We usually put a new song together each week, so every live show has something nobody's heard before. For now though, it's practice practice practice until the shows start.

11. Any shout-outs?

Big thank-you to Mike at 4-Q Studios / ESP Audio for putting up with all our nit-picking through the EP recording process. Thanks to Cameron's parents for dealing with our noise multiple times a week. Our friend Max has invested in us like we're some sort of start-up company, and that really means a lot. Although he doesn't play in the band anymore, we can't thank Mackenzie enough for helping us get started, laying down amazing rhythm tracks for the EP, and still helping us work through band decisions. And the Tannery School Of Music for helping me get a real signing voice and providing us with our first practice space.
Lastly, a big thank-you to From The Depths for championing us within like three minutes of us getting on board with them!