A professional wrestler, a children’s book author and the head of a non-profit organisation walk into a bar…. There’s a great punchline to that out there somewhere, but we’ll have to leave that to the neologists. The in-real-life result of this meeting of personalities is South Wales trio Junior, a pop punk band with more on their minds than girls, skateboards and pizza. “We all liked the idea of a concept album, and building our own little world that’s explained and explored through each of the songs,” says guitarist / vocalist Matt Attard of Junior’s forthcoming mini-album. Whilst the band’s conceptual JuniorLand carries an aesthetic straight out of Pleasantville via a Don Draper ad campaign, its sound is a little more contemporary. In parts reminiscent of Blink 182’s rightfully revered 2003 self-titled album, JuniorLand is highly melodic, swathed in big guitars and layered lead vocals. Here the trio give you an insight into the mini-album, track by track…
1 – A House That’s Not Quite Home
Matt: “This was one of the first songs written for the EP. I’d been listening to a lot of Enemy Of The World at the time, and I really wanted to recreate those massive riffs. As soon as it started to materialise, we knew this had to be the opener. When house was written, I’d just moved into uni and my parents had moved away, so It’s about that whole experience and how isolated you can feel, but at the same time how liberated you become”
Si: This is probably my favourite Junior song, and I think the other dudes agree too. It’s got this big stomping riff that opens up the track after this quirky little intro that Matt found. Lyrically, it’s talking obviously about moving house and leaving your old life behind, but I think that feeling applies to so many situations of leaving stuff behind. Plus the pause & 3 part harmony in the bridge is just sweet. It’s quite a long song, but it constantly progresses. When we were in the studio, Drew tried to shorten it but he couldn’t actually find anything that we could take out. It’s all gold. It’s coming out sounding exactly the way we hoped it would – huge and kinda space-y. It’s pretty reminiscent of later Blink-182.
Mark: I think this song is the best representation for the EP as a whole. It’s sentimental to everyone in the band as it represents what we were all going through in the last year of our lives. It’s the best way to start the EP with a bang and show everyone what Junior’s all about.
2 – Maria
Si: Tracks like “Maria” prove that we wrote this record to be more on the pop side of pop-punk. It’s a fun one to play on drums because the different sections of the song have different things going on – and it shows off the dynamics on this record that help it stand out from other pop-punk records. The harmonies on the chorus are sweet; there’s heaps of guitar tones going on too – it’s just a nicely produced song.
Matt: “this song had been knocking around for years in different shapes and forms. It’s one of the more straight up pop songs on the EP, but it really resonated with us with how fun and upbeat it was. I’d been re-listening through the Beatles back catalogue at the time, and the “Come Outside and Play” hook is a homage to “Dear Prudence”, which is an incredible, uplifting track, and I wanted to translate that into Junior.”
3 – That Pretty Dress
Si: This was one that we all wrote together in Matt’s bedroom – with me and Mark singing the lead guitar parts and Matt turning it into a proper little lick. Going into this one, we all knew we wanted it to be the most ostentatious thing we’ve done as a band, and to make it really fun and a little bit cheesy. We laughed a lot the whole time we were writing and recording it. I think Phil said something like “Just when I thought you couldn’t get more ridiculous (awesome)” when he first heard it. And that kinda sums it up. We dropped another song off the record when we wrote this cuz we knew it HAD to be on Juniorland.
Mark: This is my personal favourite song on the EP, as it was the first time all three members of the band sat down and wrote a song from scratch together. It was a chance for us to talk about topics that had bothered us over the last year, in a happy go lucky, tongue in cheek setting. It allowed us to get carried away with silly ideas in the only way we know how.
Matt: “We wrote this a bit later down the line, and it almost didn’t make the EP but I’m really glad it did. This was just a lot of fun, and we wanted to have something that didn’t fit the ‘pop punk’ mould, a curve ball that would show that we’re not just double time drums and gang chants.”
4 – Lakeside
Matt: “Mark came to us with the demo of this recorded, and because we were so happy with how it sounded, it hasn’t changed a great deal since its beginnings. This is another important track for us because it touches on themes of home and the past, which I think was the main inspiration for all of us, especially with Mark moving away to America.”
Si: This started out as a rough demo Mark recorded on his phone and was kinda worried to show the rest of us I think, but it turned into this really great acoustic song, full of nostalgia and that feeling of leaving home behind you. When I listen back to it, it reminds me of Mayday Parade. Producer Drew added in some nice touches, suggesting things like the cello in the bridge as we were recording it. We also wanted to include the bridge from “House” somewhere else in the record, and this was a perfect opportunity to revisit it.
Mark: Lakeside was another song on the EP that fitted the theme of leaving home. Although it was written as the conventional “acoustic song about a girl”, it actually has more meaning behind it than just that. The song was written in winter and talks about the struggle of keeping positive through seasonal affective disorder.
5 – If I Had the Time, I’d Tell You I’m Not Sorry
Matt: “We knew that we needed a track that was just a blast of energy, condensed into 2 minutes, but managing to cover as much ground as possible. This is one of the more straight forward tracks on the EP, but is great to play live. It gets everyone going and is just that shot of adrenaline that you need to get everyone into it.”
Si: This is the most pop-punk track on the record! Double time drums and lots of guitars. We actually blasted through it pretty quickly when we were recording. The parts that we wrote and the tempo of it make it a little tricky to play at times – especially when we’re all hyped and launch into it faster than usual! But Matt wrote this one with the lyrics half-finished and then me and Mark finished them off, which was fun to add my stamp onto it too.
Mark: If I had the time – we decided we needed a fast short song, attempting to cram in as much fun into the shortest amount of time as possible. This is definitely the one to crowd surf to if you see us play it live!
6 – Anywhere But Here
Si: We actually recorded this about 7 months before the rest of the record, and released it as a single before we’d hit the studio again. But it’s a nice representation of a more “mature” Junior sound. While we were in the studio, we actually had to re-write the chorus, but I’m glad we did. I’d just got back from DJing at Reading and hadn’t really slept, so where that intro drum part should’ve been a breeze, it took forever to get it right. Phil made us play to a metronome until we got it right, so it was more of a challenge, but I’m dead proud that it’s me playing it. It’s real musicians playing real music, y’know? It’s a nice journey through the song as well, from that slow burning first verse through to the big final chorus. Always a blast to play live.
Matt: “lyrically, this is one of the darker and more self-referential tracks on the record. This was the first track we recorded, and I love how the chorus has the call and answer between me and Mark. Si did a great job in making the opening drum section set the scene, and the way the track crescendos and explodes at the end was something we were all very proud of.”
7 – Epilogue
Si: Anywhere But Here is a good song to finish on, but we thought that Juniorland needed one final track to round out the listening experience. It’s actually a good representation of us through and through. An old sample from an old 1950s movie, it being a really inspirational message about being able to achieve anything you put your mind to, and just a little bit pretentious. But it’s the perfect ending to the record.