‘This album was influenced by some heavy, heavy stuff…’

Canadian power-poppers and retro-rockers Star Collector are back with a brand new album, Game Day –  their first record since 2006’s Hundred-Bullet-Proof.

Based in Vancouver, the band’s current line-up is: Vic Wayne – vocals and rhythm/acoustic guitars; Steve Monteith – lead guitar and vocals; Adam East – bass, vocals; Adrian Buckley – drums, percussion and vocals. 

Since Star Collector formed – their debut album, Demo Model 256, came out in 1999 –  they’ve had 17 bass players!

Comeback single, Rip It Off, is an infectious blast of crunching, guitar-fuelled, fuzzed-up rock ‘n’roll, with a killer chorus, but, like many of the highly melodic songs on Game Day, there’s a darkness lurking just beneath the surface, as Wayne tells Say It With Garage Flowers, in an exclusive interview.

“I wrote Rip It Off, which, for all its cowbell and riff-y splendour, is a damn serious song. It’s about climbing up the mountain of expectations, then sliding back down into the chaos… and the masks we all wear,” he says.

“This album was influenced by some heavy, heavy stuff. I choose to leave the specifics out, but it was originally intended to be kind of a concept album. I kept the major song cycle intact and we added some ‘stand-alone’ tunes towards the end, but I’m really pleased with the way they all flow together.”

‘Since Star Collector formed – their debut album, Demo Model 256, came out in 1999 –  they’ve had 17 bass players!’

New single and album title track, the swaggering Game Day, kicks off the record, which is their fifth, with a blast of feedback, and it has a great, Big Star-style guitar riff – think In The Street.

“Underneath the sweet bombast is a very personal lyric about facing up to demons, and making incredibly hard, life-defining decisions,” says Wayne. “It embodies the power and the pain, as it were.”

Hook, Line & Singer – great title – is an acoustic-led ballad with shades of early R.E.M, the jangly and soaring Green Eyes – one of the highlights – has a jangly, Matthew Sweet feel, and the epic Super Zero Blues has more of a groove than the other songs on the album, with a heavy bassline and a cool, vintage organ sound.

“I wrote Super Zero Blues from a dark place of wanting to understand how beautiful relationships can break down to so much chaos, that we feel dragged around on a leash by our own love and devotion,” says Wayne.

“It does offer some hope though at the end: “Maybe we’re all born to lose… those Super Zero Blues” – maybe we can come out okay on the other side…. I know… heavy, right? And you thought you were getting a happy-go-lucky-pop-combo interview… Ha-ha.”

And what about those 17 bass players? “I’ll spare you the gory details…”


How’s it going?

Vic Wayne: Hey, thanks a bushel for asking me to do this. Things are well here. Vancouver’s not the worst place in the world to be during a pandemic, or anytime, really) I think Canada’s done well compared to much of the world. Our British Columbia Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, is a medical rock star!

How has lockdown affected you, as a person and also professionally, as a musician/band. Have you had to radically alter any of your plans?

VW: The lockdown hasn’t changed much for me personally. Professionally, band-wise, yeah, it definitely sucks that we can’t gig or properly rehearse but, glass half-full, it’s been good to focus on finishing the album, making videos, etc. I’ve actually found it’s allowed me dedicated time to write too. I think about two thirds of our next album is written already.

Are you worried about the future of live music, post-Covid? What are your hopes and fears? 

VW: Well, the future of live music certainly is a big black hole of a question mark, isn’t it? My hopes are that we can get back onstage before 2021 is out, but I’m fully prepared to keep writing, recording, and releasing music/videos, if that’s not realistic. I’m still holding on to my Squeeze concert tickets from last June!

‘Lockdown has allowed me dedicated time to write. I think about two thirds of our next album is written already’

How have you been coping with lockdown?

VW: I feel I’m coping well, but I do worry about my mom, who’s in a more precarious age group, and my three siblings and their families, who live in the US.

Let’s talk about your new album, Game Day. Was it written and recorded pre-Covid? When did you make it and where?

VW: Well, I started writing the album in 2017 and we had a final set of tracks in 2019. We recorded in a few places. I demoed songs acoustically in Seattle, Washington (pre-Covid), with Evan Foster (Boss Martians, Dirty Sidewalks, The Sonics) at a studio, No Count, that he co-owns, while we were gigging there.

We did a show or two with Boss Martians here in Vancouver a number of years back and Evan and I stayed in touch. I admire his music and loved working with him. He really tuned in to the emotion of the songs.  In fact, we used one, Hook, Line & Singer, on the album. The rest were done at Echoplant Studios, here in Vancouver, with engineer, Matt Di Pomponio, and then at our drummer Adrian’s home studio, Chez Meow, plus we did some bits at Steve and Adam’s home studios and in Portland, Oregon respectively.

One of the amazing things these days is you can record at home and send files around. As the producer I would get, say Ad’s bass parts, then we’d jointly make decisions, refine them and then forward to Adrian to add to the musical jambalaya. It took a year almost to the day to make Game Day and I’m extremely proud of it.

What were the sessions for the album like?

VW: They were great. The band was excited to be making a new record after a hiatus and, though it’s our fifth album, it was our first with Adrian, as our long-time drummer, Ringo, had a little boy and moved to another province.

We did part ways with our bassist, Shane, who’d played with us for about nine years, but my younger brother, Ad, who grew up with many of the same influences I have (The Jam, The Who, The Vapors, Echo & The Bunnymen, Julian Cope, the mod revival, The Fabs, Alice Cooper – yep, that’s not a mistake, his original band was wicked!) joined us, from afar, to record the majority of it.

‘Steve and I have always had a natural chemistry with our guitar playing. Basically, he plays the real stuff and I hack away like a bozo with a butter knife, trying to carve a pineapple’

We did use three of Shane’s tracks as they were top-notch. We also had Kevin Kane (The Grapes of Wrath – one of the best Canadian bands ever, in my humble opinion) who’d we’d worked with on two of our previous albums, play a wicked guitar duel with Steve on Funeral Party. Evan did some backing vocals, and on organ we had Derek MacDonald – he used to play with Adrian – and Reece Terris, who used to play with Steve and I. Great fellas and musicians – every one of ‘em.

What did you want to achieve with the new record. Did you have an idea of what you wanted it to sound like? What influenced it lyrically and musically?

VW:This album was influenced by some heavy, heavy stuff. I choose to leave the specifics out, but it was originally intended to be kind of a concept album. I kept the major song cycle intact and we added some ‘stand-alone’ tunes towards the end, but I’m really pleased with the way they all flow together.

Musically, Steve and I have always had a natural chemistry with our guitar playing. Basically, he plays the real stuff and I hack away like a bozo with a butter knife, trying to carve a pineapple – ha-ha! My only attribute as a player is that I used to be a drummer, so I do have decent rhythm and a sense of tempo. Ad is a killer bass player and, every time he’d send new ideas, I was like a kid in a four-string candy store. He also has a fabulous voice, so we had him sing too.

‘This album was influenced by some heavy, heavy stuff. I choose to leave the specifics out, but it was originally intended to be kind of a concept album’

Adrian just let the Keith Moon-hellfire break loose on tracks like Game Day and Super Zero Blues, cowbelled when cowbelling was needed on Rip It Off, and even did a bit of John Bonham on Funeral Party. Him joining us was a bit of an unexpected bonus. He also has a really strong voice, so Bob’s your uncle!

Steve was his usual easy-going, stellar self, playing and singing the shit outta the songs ’til he was hoarse, and his fingers bled. I added some acoustic and sang a bunch, et voila… Game Day was born.

Who writes the songs? What’s the process?

VW: They usually come about one of two ways, I write ‘em or Steve and I write ‘em together. On previous albums I co-wrote with others (Kevin Kane, Dave Lawson, who played with Ad and I in our mod band as teens and was actually the lead guitarist in Star Collector for our first album, Demo Model 256, but since [second album] Black-Eyed Soul that’s generally the way it happens.

I’m the words guy (“I told you that English degree would come to no good, Vic!”) and either I do the music myself as well, or Steve and I will hack away until, you guessed it, his fingers bleed and I get fed up with said pineapple…ha-ha!

On this album I wrote a lot of it on my own, as the aforementioned heavy-on-the-heavy took me away from Vancouver for a couple of years, so I had a lot of time to muse and reacquaint myself with my acoustic… and the songs just poured out. Steve and I did co-write a few, mind you, which is the perfect segue into your next question…

The title track, Game Day, is the opening song on the new record. What can you tell me about it?

VW: Steve and I wrote Game Day together, sitting knee to knee, à la Lennon and Macca, at a friend’s house in Seattle, while touring, and it is one of my favourite songs we’ve written together. It’s full of mod-flash bass and drums and Steve’s ‘tip of the chapeau to Big Star’ riff, but underneath the sweet bombast is a very personal lyric about facing up to demons, and making incredibly hard, life-defining decisions. It embodies the power and the pain, as it were. The words alternate between two voices as well, which is important.

The first single was Rip It Off. It’s classic-sounding power-pop, with a great guitar solo/sound…

VW: Why, thank you. That’s so kind of you, but the guitar solo/sound was all Steve. It’s melodic and kickin! *Note to self: design a t-shirt for Steve with that on the front*.  He did a really great video for it too. It’s on our new YouTube channel, along with our first video, Skyscraper, and lots of live/TV clips from touring Europe, the US and here at home.

‘Steve and I wrote Game Day together, sitting knee to knee, à la Lennon and Macca, at a friend’s house in Seattle, while touring, and it is one of my favourite songs we’ve written together’

I wrote Rip It Off, which is, for all its cowbell and riff-y splendour, also a damn serious song. It’s about climbing up the mountain of expectations, then sliding back down into the chaos… and the masks we all wear.

I found a brilliant quote, which we used on the album sleeve: “The Japanese have three faces. The first face you show to the world. The second face you show to your close friends and family. The third face, you never show anyone” (Unknown).  That’s Rip It Off right there.”

Super Zero Blues has more of a groove than the other songs on the album – at least on the verses – with a heavy bassline. It has a cool organ sound too.

VW: Super Zero Blues is our epic album track. We had Curtain Call on Hundred-Bullet-Proof  [ fourth album] and Start To Shine on Flash-Arrows & The Money Shot [third album],  so I guess it’s par for the course now to have something that spans my secret love for Alice Cooper, my not-so-secret love for Echo & The Bunnymen, and prog rock! Ha-ha. I think, musically, it really brings out the band members’ strengths.

‘I wrote Super Zero Blues from a dark place of wanting to understand how beautiful relationships can break down to so much chaos, that we feel dragged around on a leash by our own love and devotion’

Steve’s minimalistic guitar, which comes crashing in on the choruses, and his melodic-amidst-the-bombast solo; Adrian’s steady Tomorrow Never Knows-ish playing, which disintegrates to chaos at the fade; and Reece, who guested on organ, doing a whacked-out solo in the middle, which you referenced.

Shane played bass on this one and his groove and tone are perfect for the song’s mood. This was one I wrote from a dark place of wanting to understand how beautiful relationships can break down to so much chaos, that we feel dragged around on a leash by our own love and devotion. It does offer some hope though at the end: “Maybe we’re all born to lose… those Super Zero Blues” – maybe we can come out okay on the other side…. I know… heavy, right? And you thought you were getting a happy-go-lucky-pop-combo interview… Ha-ha.

I really like Hook, Line & Singer – great title! It’s one of the slower songs on the record – a stripped-down, acoustic-led ballad, with some nice organ and an electric guitar solo on it too…

VW: So, this is the one we kept from the sessions I did with Evan in Seattle. I originally envisioned it with a full-band arrangement and me singing up an octave. This is the beauty of demoing and bouncing stuff off others you respect. Evan really felt it would be better with my lower Ian McCulloch baritone, which, frankly, is infinitely easier to sing with, as it’s like my talking voice.

‘To be honest, it’s hard for me to listen to  Hook, Line & Singer sometimes, but it’s fucking real’

He said he heard a little Johnny Cash in it, and the mournful lyric would really stand out if it stayed stripped-down. Once we ran it a couple times, I was like… “umm, yeah, agreed!”

Though it’s different from the rest of the album – no drums/bass, and minimal guitar/organ – it’s the emotional centrepiece of the whole thing. Derek played some beautiful organ and Steve’s solo hits the right tone emotionally and sonically. It’s the first new song I’d written after our hiatus and it got me back writing with a vengeance. To be honest, it’s hard for me to listen to it sometimes, but it’s fucking real.

Green Eyes is one of my favourite songs on the record. It has a Matthew Sweet feel. Do you agree? There are some great, crunching, loud guitars and an infectious melody…

VW: I must admit, in our close circle of friends and family there are quite a few who agree with you and rate this one highly. It was the last one chosen for the record but there ya go… beauty is in the ear of the beholder. Or should that be belistener? Now I’m just making up words!

Steve and I wrote this together, around his guitar riff, and it’s about my dad and my three siblings. He was a wonderful guy, a doctor, who died far too young, at 62.

Musically, yeah, Matthew Sweet, and a couple of people have said The Who. I even hear a bit of R.E.M. in it… Ad’s bass carries the song along à la Bruce Thomas of The Attractions. Adrian and I did handclaps, and Steve played a bunch of really cool parts for the solo.

What are your plans for the rest of the year?

VW: Well, we’ll promote Game Day as best we can, even if we can’t play it live for a while, We’ve made some brilliant connections within the power-pop community and already after only a few weeks of Rip It Off being out, the support has been super and duper – and much appreciated.

We’ve received radio play from the States to the UK to Spain already and made it on to compilations and playlists. The lockdown has been good for one thing, and that’s writing. I’ve got a handful of new songs done, and Steve and I co-wrote a couple more, so our next album is in utero… now to be able to go rehearse and record it… *fingers crossed emoji*.

‘We’ve made some brilliant connections within the power-pop community and already after only a few weeks of Rip It Off being out, the support has been super and duper – and much appreciated’

What music – new and old – have you been enjoying recently? What’s been your lockdown soundtrack?

VW: Hmmm… let me do a quick mind scroll: The Rosenbergs, The Lucy Show, Hoodoo Gurus, Fountains Of Wayne, Odds, The Grapes Of Wrath, The Black Keys, BRMC, Echo & The Bunnymen, The Smithereens, TPOH [The Pursuit of Happiness], Danny Michel, Elephant Stone, Big Star, Secret Affair, STP, Slydigs, and, of course, The Jam, The Kinks and The Who.

One new album I was really impressed with is The Psychedelic Furs’ Made of Rain. I also love Rock and Roll (Save My Soul) by Dirty Sidewalks, My Heavy Soul  by Plasticsoul, Kissing A Fool by The Pop Cycle, Heart Of Stone by Black Nite Crash, and The Gospel According To Saint Me  by Veruca Salt.

Here’s a few that might seem left-field for me: The Water Lets You In by Book of Fears, You Could Be Wrong by The Mastersons, Montreal Rock Band Somewhere by Happyness, and Pumped Up Kicks by Foster The People. Plus, Spoon, Temples, Tame Impala, Mother Mother, New Pornographers and Jets Overhead.

I could fill up a couple page, but there’s a bunch. One project that kept me musically engaged during lockdown was I posted a Treasure Hunt on Facebook every day for 120 days straight. Each day I’d pick five – sometimes more – songs that I love by each artist, trying to focus on artists that aren’t commonly known. It was fun, nostalgic and had me discovering lots of stuff by these artists I didn’t previously know as well. Many are listed above. I’d often hear from the musicians themselves and their fans also replied – it had a great communal feel about it.

Star Collector at LoFi, Seattle.

What’s your preferred way of listening to music – and why?

VW: I love listening in the car, especially on long drives – though I haven’t taken many lately –  and late at night, in my AirPods, when I can totally zone out and drift in the wonder of other people’s vivid creativity. Not to sound like an ethereal surfer dude *Spicoli: “Then I’m winging off to London to jam with the Stones!”*

Funny, though, I also love cranking up a mix of stuff while cooking! Ha-ha… it just makes peeling the garlic so much more pleasant.

Finally, do you know one of my favourite Canadian artists, Jerry Leger? He’s an alt-country / Americana singer-songwriter from Toronto. You should check him out – he’s great!

VW: Well, to be honest, I wasn’t familiar with him, but, after that recommendation, I’d be a fool to not have checked him out,  so I did and yeah, good stuff.

I see that Michael Timmins [Cowboy Junkies] produced him, which really works for his authentic style. I really liked a home vid he did of the song Ticket Bought. Thanks for the tip. And thanks for your keen interest in my outfit – not my clothes, obviously, but my band.  Although I am writing this in my pyjamas, but, rest assured, with a wicked pair of shades on.

Game Day by Star Collector is out now on CD and digital / streaming platforms.


‘I’m actually enjoying being indoors – I haven’t cracked up yet!’

Photo by Laura Proctor: @lpphotographs


When the coronavirus pandemic forced him to cancel his European and UK spring tour, Canadian singer-songwriter Jerry Leger turned a negative situation into a positive one by hastily putting together a brand new, digital-only album called Songs From The Apartment.

Available to buy from Bandcamp, it’s made up of ‘lost’ songs from 2013- 2018 that he’d demoed and quickly forgotten about.

It’s a brilliant collection of intimate Americana and Dylanesque folk-blues tracks.

The loose, raw and lo-fi recordings really hang together well as an album, and, if anything, it demonstrates that Jerry’s discarded songs are better than many artists’ officially released ones.

In an exclusive interview from his apartment in Toronto, Jerry tells Say It With Garage Flowers how he pulled the album together so quickly, reveals details of a series of forthcoming online gigs streamed live on Facebook and suggests a suitable soundtrack for these days of isolation…


How’s it going? Are you safe? What’s the situation like in Toronto?

Jerry Leger: I’m well and doing what I can to stay safe and keep my distance during the handful of times I’ve had to leave my apartment. A state of emergency was announced in Toronto and everything is changing by the day – stores and other places are closing and there are more guidelines for what we need to do to protect ourselves and others. It’s a good thing to help us get through this as soon as possible.

Sadly the coronavirus has meant you’ve had to postpone your UK and European tour. How do you feel about that? What impact has it had on you financially?

JL: Well, it was a major blow, very disappointing and, as you can imagine, financially devastating. It’s being rescheduled for next spring – I’m hoping that things will have settled down by then. Of course, our health is the number one priority for all of us, but it is very stressful. You’re dealing with how the present has been affected and worrying about how the future looks.

After a few days I was able to calm my mind down a bit and not worry about things too far into the future. All it does is create more anxiety and I have enough of that already. The virus has put a lot of things into perspective for me. My girlfriend Laura has helped a lot and I’ve also been coping by staying busy and by thinking of creative things I can do from home.

I started the year off by catching up on a lot of reading and also writing more, so I’m gonna do more of that and get back to sketching, which I find stress relieving.

How are you coping with being indoors all the time?

JL: I’ve actually been enjoying it to some degree. I haven’t cracked up yet! After my big European and UK tour was postponed and Canadian dates were cancelled, the first few days of recommended isolation were spent dealing with that and what to do next.

I had started the year off writing a bunch of songs, but, of course, the pandemic put my creativity on hold. I’m easing back into the mindset for when the mood and inspiration strikes.

Can you recommend any songs for the period of isolation? What’s your soundtrack?

JL: I’ve had Gordon Lightfoot on – it’s comforting for me. It’s hard to say though, ‘cos I’m always listening to records if I’m home and now I’m home a lot, so a lot of records have been played.

I had Ray Charles, Irma Thomas and Kris Kristofferson on last night. For the first few days, I had a lot of Beatles and solo Beatles on, ‘cos I also find that comforting in moments of deep worry.

The first song I was ever obsessed with was In My Life, around the age of four. As I’m writing this, I have King Of America by Elvis Costello on.

Great choice! One of the positive things that’s emerged from the crisis is that you’ve released a new digital-only album, Songs From The Apartment, via Bandcamp. How did you manage to turn the project around so quickly?

JL: I thought it would be cool to release a surprise album and I had folders and folders of demos for songs that had never seen the light of day.

I think I needed a distraction last week after dealing with so much. I started listening to some of the tracks and heard a lot of merit in them. I also loved how relaxed, intimate and raw they were. I thought it was good timing, with a lot of us having to be indoors. We’re all in it together.

A fan sent me a message saying that he loved the sound of it – he said it sounded like I was right there in the room with him.

I put it together last Thursday [March 19] and chose 10 songs that I thought really worked. My buddy Aaron Comeau helped with EQing and doing the levels on them. The photo for the cover – by LPPhotographs – was one that I always loved. I always saw it as a cover and it worked perfectly ‘cos I’m sitting in my apartment with my acoustic guitar.The album is made up of unreleased songs you had lying around. Are there a lot of songs in your vaults? Was it easy to choose which songs to include? 

JL: Yeah – there are a lot of songs that I have recorded in demo form and also some studio outtakes for that matter. I just write all of the time – I don’t hunker down and write the next album in a cabin somewhere.

A bunch of the tunes I don’t even remember writing, which made it fun to listen to and put together. It also made it easier to choose certain ones ‘cos I’d have a less bias opinion coming back to them if they were good or not.

‘I write all of the time – I don’t hunker down and write the next album in a cabin somewhere’

I think they’re all from the period of 2015-2018, except Leaving Now, which is from 2013. There are some that stayed in the back of mind as being good, but I doubted I’d return to them for a future album ‘cos time changes that for me.

I’m more focused and excited about what I’m writing in the moment. This worked perfectly putting the collection together.

Your ‘lost’ songs are better than a lot of artists’ officially released songs, aren’t they?

JL: Well that’s a matter of opinion!

Songs From The Apartment is a lo-fi, stripped down album. How and where were the songs recorded?

JL: They were recorded in my apartment on just a little recorder with an internal microphone. Very rough. They were all songs that were demoed and either not chosen to go into the studio with, or tried in the studio but left off the albums.

Basically before making an album I probably would have 30 or so songs and we’d pick 15-18 to go into the studio with and then 10 or 12 would make the cut.

Some really great ones are never returned to after the initial demo and that’s because they may not fit the feel I’m going for at the time, or it’s a similar idea or sound to a different song that I prefer. For example we recorded Tomorrow In My Mind and Ticket Bought for Time Out For Tomorrow [2019 album] and I felt they both had a similar feel, so I decided on the former.

You’re doing some online gigs on Facebook in the next few days, streamed live from your apartment?What can we expect from the performances? 

JL: It’s gonna be interesting, I’ve never live streamed before and never had any interest in doing it.

I had thought about live streaming a show before ‘cos I found myself watching a couple of Lucinda Williams shows on her Facebook page and I loved them. It made me think ‘OK, maybe this wouldn’t be so bad’, but I never got around to doing it.

I think in these strange days we’re all trying to figure out what we can do in the meantime and also try and keep afloat in an industry that has already been suffering for years. I’m doing these online shows for the folks that can’t come and see me and they’re cool with the virtual version for now.

Anyone can watch and I hope they do, but each show will also have a special hello to a country that we no longer will be visiting this spring. I completely understand if it’s not up some people’s alley and they’d rather not tune in. For me, I’m gonna do what I usually do when I’m around the house – play some music. I’ll play some new and old songs, plus some covers if it strikes me.

Let’s talk about some of the songs on the new album. Traveler’s Prayer is one of my favourites. What can you tell me about it? I like the line – ‘trees blow in the Halloween air.’ It’s a very wintry song…

JL: That’s really interesting, as I got a couple of emails from fans in different countries that also love that song. I wrote the words first and set it to music, recorded the demo immediately afterwards and then completely forgot about. That recording is the only time I’ve ever played it. It’s so relaxed and unaffected.

That’s what I love about Songs From The Apartment. Nothing on it was intended to be heard by anyone other than myself or Mike Timmins, who produced the last few albums. It’s also why the guitar is out of tune – ha! I don’t remember the inspiration for that song, but I think the time period of Halloween recurs in my songs because I love that time of year.

‘In these strange days we’re all trying to figure out what we can do to try and keep afloat in an industry that has been suffering for years’

Hoodoo Brown has a Dylan feel. What was the inspiration behind it? It sounds like an outlaw blues song… 

JL: Yeah – it’s an outlaw song. I read about Hoodoo Brown who was the leader of a gang in the late 1800s. I just dug the name and made up the rest.

I remember working on that song longer than some of the others and I felt it never got off the ground with the band. I couldn’t get the sound I wanted. This solo version has much more of the energy and urgency that it needed. Actually, that’s probably the Dylan connection – that and the fact there’s a lot of words crammed into some of the lines. I dig a lot of the words and ideas in it.

It was written specifically for the Nonsense side of my album Nonsense and Heartache, so that’s why it has that bluesy, rock ‘n’ roll feel to it.

Photo by Laura Proctor: @lpphotographs

Poor Man’s Farewell is a beautiful and poignant folky song. Where did that come from?

JL: I don’t really remember, but I think it was on my mind how a lot of us look down on the poor or the homeless and never think about their story. Everyone has a story.

I actually had an idea that it would be a secret song at the end of Nonsense and Heartache. Kind of like Train In Vain from The Clash’s London Calling, which is not listed on the sleeve.

Leaving Now is a sad song that’s about the end of relationship. Can you shed any light on it? I think has an early Dylan feel. It’s folky – almost ragtime… 

JL: We tried that one for the Early Riser album, but I don’t think Mike Timmins felt it fitted, or was good enough. I always thought it was catchy, though – you could hear someone covering it. Yeah, you’re probably right. Dylan is such a big influence on me, that there are elements that have and always will continue to show up.

There are quite a few sad songs on the album. Is that a coincidence?

JL: The sad ones are always the best! It definitely wasn’t the concept, but I think I gravitate towards sad songs. So many Everly Brothers songs that I love are really just a drag, aren’t they?

What are you most looking forward to doing when things return to normal?

JL: Seeing my friends, family and the band and playing on stage again in front of people. It’ll be nice to have the UK and European tour and other shows rescheduled to make up for lost time.

The title of your last album, Time Out For Tomorrow, seems eerily prescient in the light of the current situation, doesn’t it?

JL: I know! I couldn’t help but instantly think of that. The album title now has a whole new meaning.

To buy or stream Jerry Leger’s latest album, the digital-only Songs From The Apartment, go to his Bandcamp page here.

For more information on how to watch his streamed live gigs on Facebook – from March 26-April 1, go to https://www.facebook.com/jerrylegermusic

To make a donation, use paypal.me/jerrylegermusic .



‘I’ve become more aware of what a crazy life I’m living…’

Jerry laundromat
Picture by Laura Proctor: @lpphotographs https://www.lpphotographs.ca/Info

It’s been a year since Canadian singer-songwriter Jerry Leger first came to the UK and Europe to promote his brilliant double album Nonsense and Heartache – a mix of raw, primal, bluesy rock ‘n’ roll and stripped-down, alt-country ballads.

Now he’s back on tour, has released a new retrospective compilation album called Too Broke To Die, and is gearing up for the release of his next studio album,Time Out For Tomorrow, later this year.

In an exclusive interview he gave Say It With Garage Flowers while he was on the road, he tells us about revisiting his back catalogue, the challenges he faces as a Canadian artist, why he loves coming to the UK and Europe, and how the sound of his forthcoming album was inspired by Nick Lowe and Lou Reed…

Things are changing round here. That’s the title of a song on Jerry Leger’s 2018 album Nonsense and Heartache – one of Say It With Garage Flowers’ favourite records of last year – but it could also apply to the Canadian singer-songwriter’s profile in the UK and Europe.

It’s been over 12 months since Toronto-based Jerry and his band, The Situation, who’ve been together for 12 years, first came to these shores, and now they’re back, to promote a new, limited edition, retrospective compilation album, called Too Broke To Die, which has been put together especially for the European market and is available to buy from his merch stall on tour.

It brings together 21 songs from the nine albums he’s made from 2005-2019 (eight studio albums and a live record), including some previously unreleased outtakes.

Highlights include the Dylan-esque rarity Beating The Storm; the gorgeous country shuffle of Wrong Kind of Girl; the moody and edgy Factory Made, which is an attack on the fake aspects of the music industry; the sad, reflective Nobody’s Angel; the cool, garage-rock strut of The Big Smoke Blues and the alt-country of Another Dead Radio Star, which was inspired by the 1930s radio show The Shadow, which was voiced by Orson Welles.

Off the back of last year’s successful tour, which introduced Jerry to a new audience outside of his native Canada, this return visit, coupled with Too Broke To Die, which serves as a handy introduction to his career, means 2019 could be the year that he breaks through in the UK and Europe.

One thing’s for sure – it’s certainly not for want of trying…. When Say It With Garage Flowers catches up with Jerry over a pint in a East London pub, in Leytonstone, ahead of a headline show at What’s Cookin’, it’s the fifth night of a gruelling, seven-week tour of almost 30 dates, including stints in Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Norway and Sweden.

Jerry Leger & The Situation at this year’s Ramblin’ Roots Revue: picture by Sean Hannam

The tour kicked off with a storming UK festival slot at the Ramblin’ Roots Revue in High Wycombe and two appearances on Record Store Day, at Music’s Not Dead in Bexhill-on-Sea and Union Music Store in Lewes. I ask Jerry if he thinks his profile over here is getting bigger.

“I’m glad I did Ramblin’ Roots – it was great to see a whole bunch of people, some of whom I hadn’t met before. I hope my profile is building – it’s what I want, but it’s hard for me to gauge because some things happen very quickly and other things happen very slowly – every day is the same for me, so I’m not very aware of how everything is going,” he says, sipping his beer.

I want to reassure him that things are changing round here… With a brand new studio album on the way later this year and hopefully more UK dates planned in the autumn/winter, by the end of 2019, you’ll definitely be hearing a lot more of Jerry Leger…

D38Gmn6U8AI6iRAQ & A

Your new album, Too Broke To Die, is a retrospective compilation album of songs from 2005-2019. How did it come about and how did you choose which songs made the cut?

Jerry Leger: There are a lot of albums I’ve made that people are unaware of, so I put together a compilation with a few songs from each album and a couple of previously unreleased songs.

Initially, I thought about having some covers on it. We recorded a bunch of covers with Michael Timmins [producer – Cowboy Junkies] for a project that never came to fruition. We did Time by Tom Waits, Like A Hurricane by Neil Young and a medley of John Lennon songs – Well Well Well and his version of (Well) Baby Please Don’t Go from Some Time In New York City. It was a wide range of covers, but then I decided I didn’t want to have to deal with all the licensing issues – I had eight of my albums to dig from and a lot of outtakes, so there was already enough there… Each album had about five or six songs that didn’t make it onto the record.

You’re like Prince…

JL: [laughs]: Without the money and some other stuff that we won’t go into – and I’m still here…

Too Broke To Die is essentially a Greatest Hits set but without any hits on it

JL: Greatest Miss Hits!

Was it hard to choose which songs ended up on Too Broke To Die? How was it going through your back catalogue?

JL: It was a bit tricky and very strange – a lot of the albums I hadn’t heard for a long time, apart from revisiting them so I could bring some of the songs back into my live set and refresh my memory. Some of the songs I recorded when I was 20 or 21 – I’ve just turned 34. I remember being there and making the albums, but it’s strange…

The record takes the listener on a journey – from some of your earlier raw and folky stuff to more soulful sounds, and bluesy country and Americana from your last record, Nonsense and Heartache

JL: It’s always however I was feeling at the time – and whatever record I wanted to make. I’m still like that.

Lets talk about some of the songs on the record. One of my favourites is Beating The Storm, which has a Dylan feel

JL: Yeah – definitely.

Can you remember writing that song? What was the inspiration?

JL: I don’t remember the inspiration – I can remember writing it. I was living in a basement apartment and I wrote a few songs there, like Round Walls, for the album You, Me & The Horse. I’ve always loved Beating The Storm – I tried doing it for that album, but, for whatever reason, it didn’t make it. We tried it a few years later, for the album Some Folks Know, but it still didn’t make it. It stuck in my mind. When I was putting the new record together, it seemed like an obvious choice. It had never found a home…

What can you remember about Wrong Kind of Girl?

JL: That falls into that category of those songs that are a bit like magic – I don’t know where it came from or how it came here, but I happened to write it and I’m glad that I did, because I really like that song.

Is He Treating You Good? is a great song – its about a relationship gone wrong and it reminds me of something Elvis Costello couldve written

JL: I’m glad that you said that because I’m a big fan and he’s a big influence on me, but I never get that comparison. It’s one of my favourite songs I’ve written – it’s up there. It’s in my top three. The song speaks for itself.

Factory Made, from your album Early Riser, is one of my favourite songs on Too Broke To Die

JL: I can remember writing that one. When Michael Timmins mixed it, it sounded like it came from a different world. We recorded it live and then he mixed it – his choices of which instruments came it and out, and his reverb and echo ideas… I wrote that song at home at 3 in the morning. I was really drunk and I was frustrated with everything – with how the music industry had gone and with some of the people around me who were full of shit. It was an attack on the real trend for making you think that things are legitimate when they’re not – I was frustrated by people getting sucked in by that. It’s a song about being a frustrated artist, but also a frustrated listener. Fortunately – and unfortunately – I think that song will be relevant for years to come.

‘Over a beer, I can talk all night about music I love. I can talk about Blood On The Tracks if you want me to…’

Jerry and Sean 1.jpeg
Jerry Leger talks to Sean Hannam – picture by Laura Proctor: @lpphotographs https://www.lpphotographs.ca/Info

Nobodys Angel feels like its one of your anthems

JL: That was written when I’d started working in a hardware store in Toronto that my brother managed – I was a teenager in high school and I worked there for many years. You don’t want me to fix anything…

It was in an area where there were a lot of people who were suffering from different forms of abuse. I would see men and women – young people who’d had the life sucked out of them within a few years.

There was a coffee shop on the corner where there were drug dealers and pimps who were there all night… There wasn’t a lot of understanding – people’s lives got screwed up very easily for a variety of reasons, but they shouldn’t be looked down upon. The neighbourhood has now been gentrified – at the time, there was a lot of crack cocaine there.

Toronto features in quite a few of your songs, like Things Are Changing Round Here and The Big Smoke Blues – both of which are from Nonsense and Heartache and are also on the new compilation album

JL: Yeah – I write about what’s around me. Obviously parts of me are in the songs, but there are also little conversations… Songs just come from anywhere – I don’t have a filter. Whatever I retain, I think could be a song…

Lets talk about your next studio album, which is coming out later this year. Whats inspired some of your new songs?

JL: One song was written about a ghost town in Northern Ontario and the opening song is called Canvas of Gold – the first verse is: ‘Everything was almost decided when we were young. You stay poor like your family before and I’ll keep on hustling…’ I think I’ve become more aware recently of what a crazy life I’m living – it’s hard to survive as an artist in a big city, but it’s what I signed up for – it’s a hustle.

Is it hard trying to make it in the UK and Europe, outside of Canada?

JL: Hustling outside of Canada is more rewarding – Canada takes its own artists for granted – it’s always been that way. I want to keep working, so I have to build a profile here [in the UK and Europe]. I just want to keep reaching more people and I want to keep coming back here. We’ve had some of the most enthusiastic appreciation here – there’s more people here who are deeper music lovers than in North America. It’s been easier to get music listeners here. It became tiring in Canada – doing the same routes and travelling across the country. It didn’t feel like people were getting into it.

Canada’s really big and there’s not a huge population, so unless you’re playing the game according to somebody else, it’s very difficult to get anywhere. There’s a whole other world out there. I have my fans and supporters back home, but it’s really nice to be in a new market and have people dig what I’m doing. It’s a different appreciation – I’ve met way more people on the tours in the UK and Europe that listen to music in the way that I listen to it. When I get into a record, I dissect it – I listen very closely to it and it means something to me. Over a beer, I can talk all night about music I love. I can talk about Blood On The Tracks all night if you want me to…

‘It’s hard to survive as an artist in a big city, but it’s what I signed up for – it’s a hustle’

Picture by Laura Proctor: @lpphotographs

Earlier today, you told me that Canadian radio thought that your last album was too gritty…

JL: I thought that was great it’s the best compliment they’ve ever given me.

Let’s talk more about your new studio album, which is out later this year. Like your two previous albums, you worked with producer Michael Timmins (Cowboy Junkies) on it… 

JL: What was different this time around was that we rehearsed a lot before going into the studio, trying out different arrangements, but there’s still spontaneity on this record… A lot of it was played live in the studio, but I had more of a clear idea about how it was going to be executed. I already had in my mind what the arrangements were going to be. It took about a week to make.

What does it sound like?

JL: It’s a nice, short and sweet, lean and mean record. Two records I really dug the sound of that I wanted to capture on this record were Nick Lowe’s The Impossible Bird and one of my favourite Lou Reed albums, Coney Island Baby –  I love that dry drum sound and the real directness of it. Some of the songs just coast along. I also like a lot of Nick Lowe’s older records with Rockpile, where he doubled the electric guitar solos.  I doubled my vocals on some songs.

‘My next album is a nice, short and sweet, lean and mean record. I wanted to capture the sound of Nick Lowe’s The Impossible Bird and Lou Reed’s Coney Island Baby’

Do you have a title for the new album?

JL: Time Out For Tomorrow, which I think really captures the whole album I don’t know why, but the title feels right. I’m really excited about the new record – I’m very proud of it. I really think it’s the best record I’ve made so far. It’s a cross between Early Riser and Nonsense and Heartache sound-wise and it’s very concise songwriting-wise, performance-wise, arrangement-wise and sequence-wise. We went in with 18 songs, focused on about 15, then cut it down to 12 and 10 made it. Some of the songs that didn’t make it are some of the best, but they didn’t fit. It was like putting together a puzzle. I like records that are rough around the edges, but with this one I took a little more care putting those puzzle pieces together.

I can’t wait to hear the new album and I’m looking forward to you coming back to the UK.

JL: I’ve got to keep coming here and that’s what I plan to do. I’m sure we’ll be back before the end of the year.

Picture by Laura Proctor: @lpphotographs

Jerry Leger & The Situation are currently touring Europe. For more information, please visit https://jerryleger.com/

The compilation album Too Broke To Die –  a limited edition retrospective (2005-2019) is available to purchase at the gigs. It’s on Golden Rocket Records. 

Thanks to Laura Proctor at https://www.lpphotographs.ca/ for the photography. You can follow her on Instagram here.