Features Interviews Young Rival Goes West

Young Rival Goes West

Young Rival
Young Rival
 Interview by: Chad Hutchings

Sticky Chats with Young Rival as they set off on a tour in front of the lens.

For anyone who keeps up on Southern Ontario's indie music scene, Young Rival is sure to be a familiar name. Even if you somehow haven't managed to catch them on stage, it's hard to miss their name in frequent print, whether you've been reading about them in high praise from critics or in concert listings billed alongside the area's biggest acts.

Now, as the group's second full length album is being polished off, they've set out on a western tour with Hollerado and Wildlife — a tour that is being chronicled by Last Frame Pictures in a documentary featuring the band. And, while it all goes down, you can keep updated as Sticky Magazine hosts the exclusive tour and documentary blog, where you can find photos and videos from the tour, read all of the latest news, and get the inside scoop on surprise shows that will be popping up all along the way.

Just before all of the excitement got rolling, Sticky pulled drummer Noah Fralick away from his packing and spent a little time chatting about the band, the tour, and how young Canadian acts make ends meet.

Sticky: So, Young Rival has been around for a while, but you started off as a different band, with a bit of a different sound. 

Noah: We were Ride Theory. It was similar in that it was garage rock and roll stuff, but I think we were just younger then. I guess the spirit of the music was the same, but maybe the sound was slightly different. I think now we've really matured a lot and come into our own as Young Rival.

Sticky: And the name change came because of that growing maturity?

Noah: Yeah. We all graduated from college and university and the band had just become something we were going to focus our lives on [and become] more serious with, so that coincided with the name change.

Sticky: As Young Rival, you came out with an original EP, then the full length self-titled. You're working on a second LP now?

Noah: Yeah, we've just finished tracking it. We took about ten days in August and did all of that in Toronto with John Drew, who had done our first full length. We're just mixing it now and hoping to have it done, mixed and mastered, in the next month.

Sticky: So what can we expect from it? Is it going to be a similar sound, or is there a different direction?

Noah: It's certainly going to be a similar sound, but I think what we're really trying to do is focus in on one particular side of the band. On our full length and EP, we sort of straddled between having a darker rock and roll sound, versus a brighter, beachy pop sound. I think that this next album is going to be a little more focused in the brighter direction. Not as much of the really aggressive rock and roll music and more interesting, melodic, straight-forward guitar pop.

Sticky: It's not gonna be around for the tour out West, I guess.

Noah: No, not in time for that. It'll probably be out in early January or February 2012.

Sticky: Did you originally plan to have it ready for this tour to support it?

Noah: No, we always thought we'd release it in the new year. This tour, we just thought would be really great. We've been friends with Hollerado for a long time, so it was going to be a lot of fun, but it's also just a great tour to go on and have a solid support slot out west to gear up for the album release in 2012. We just thought it'd be a good way to kinda get the touring machine going again and get some buzz going. 

Sticky: Now, about the documentary. Did the guys from Last Frame approach you about this? How did it happen?

Noah: I've known Brendan [McCarney] for about six months. We met him in April when he was working for Brock TV in St. Catharines. We'd done an interview with him, and just kept in touch with him, and we've become really good friends. He and I had a beer here in Hamilton a couple months ago, and he followed up and offered to make this tour documentary. We were really, really excited about it, 'cause he's working on that great documentary on Meligrove Band and he's had some videos... it's always great as a young band, to surround yourself with other people who are young and ambitious and looking to do interesting things, and I think Brendan is one of those guys. Well Brendan and Mike [Gillespie], they just have really great careers ahead of them, so it's awesome that we found them now when they're still interested.

Sticky: And what do you expect with this documentary? Do you think it's going to affect your image?

Noah: Well I'm not really too sure what specific angle will be taken with the documentary, but I think it'll be kinda cool to give people an idea what it's like to be an indie band in Canada and to hopefully document the interesting sides of Canada we get to see when we're on tour. To have footage of this really interesting time in our lives, when we're not a big band yet, while we're still developing... there's something fun and interesting and exciting about that. So I hope that Brendan and Mike can really capture the feel and the spirit of where we're at currently as a band. 

Sticky: Since you're taking the tour West, where there are gonna be long stretches of land between shows, are you gonna be bringing the cameras into more personal day to day moments on the road?

Noah: It is gonna be a pretty taxing tour. We've done a few of them this way, where you try to hit all the major cities, but to do that night after night, it does mean eight or nine hour drives every day. I think that what we're really gonna try to do is get some interesting footage in some of the towns that we've come to know. There are little gems scattered throughout the country, and we're gonna try to get footage in some of these places, and also have some performances in more non-club, abstract places. So, I think for us that's really exciting because you kind of get in a routine when you're on a tour of just, you get in the van, you drive, you show up, you play, you go to the hotel, and you sleep in. It'll be nice to have something we have to do. Even though it'll be long days, it'll be nice to have these events planned to make more of our time out there. I think that's something we're really excited about. 

Sticky: Aside from how the fans are going to see you, and how industry people and those outside of your personal lives are going to see you, are you at all nervous about how you're going to come off in the documentary to family and girlfriends?

Noah: (laughing) No, I think we're pretty confident about who we are and where we're at, and I think we're good guys. I don't think we're gonna come off looking like assholes or anything. I hope we're not anyway, or I'll have to take that up with Mike and Brendan. Ultimately, I think we're just really excited.

Sticky: All these fans, we're just sitting back, going to your shows, and paying our money at the door. So even the things that seem monotonous to you on tour, for people who haven't been on tour and haven't been out there, they can seem pretty big. Are there things of note that you've learned from your previous time on the road that you'll be applying this time around?

Noah: I think it'll be cool to have this documentary to get a glimpse into that. Even for us, to see what it is and watch that from the outside, I think that'll be really neat. And I dunno, I think we've learned a lot in past tours from each other and from the bands we've toured with — all sorts of things. That stuff you always carry with you. It's so much, being in a band and trying to navigate through this complicated industry that's sort of confused at the moment, because people don't really know how to make money when people stopped buying records. You spend a lot of time thinking about your place in the business and what you're trying to accomplish. It is just always a learning experience.

Sticky: It's a tired old question, but now that you mention how people aren't buying reconds, do you have some way you hope to work around this lull and this reluctance to pay for music?

Noah: On the one hand, it's difficult for bands, because you do miss out on one key revenue stream, but at the same time, it does force you to think about "what is your product?" and "What are you selling as a band?" For us, we really value touring and publishing, getting songs on TV, commercials, stuff like that. Those are the two major revenue streams for bands at the moment. And it's difficult in Canada, because it's very expensive to tour here because it's such a huge country. So, it's hard to have that still be a significant source of income. [But] in the same way that the internet has been a source of the problem, it's also this medium where now we can control so much and promote. We can set up our website and have an online store where we can put out interesting pieces of merch. 

Sticky: Such as?

Noah: We've got a couple ideas. We're launching our own red wine. We're going to have Young Rival Estates and it's being brewed right now. We're doing that, and we've got other crazy ideas that are just fun and interesting. But yeah, there are technologies like Topspin, and you can set up an online store on any website where people can buy whatever you're selling, so it's kinda interesting for a band to be able to think of all these various avenues. It's not just about selling t-shirts and cd's and vinyls anymore, it's about so much more.