On eve of debut LP, Rarity talks shaking their pop-punk label and owning your scene
[Photo courtesy Kurt Cuffy]
After brokering deals with Rise Records and Goodfight Management, the boys in Rarity hit the road right out of high school. They went from jamming in Canada’s Steel City to touring the continent with bands like Silverstein, Vanna and Being As An Ocean.
They have learned a lot in the past year and are about to rattle the cage with their debut LP, out April 15. AP caught up with drummer Evan Woods, singer Loeden Learn and guitarist Adam Clarke about being a young band in an aging scene, shaking off their pop-punk label and Clarke breaking his neck in a mosh pit.
What was the experience like hitting the road with a seasoned band like Silverstein? This isn’t the first tour you’ve done with fellow southern Ontarians. What are some of the big things that you have learned?
WOODS: We were pinching ourselves. They were really good to us.
LEARN: They were awesome to us. It didn’t even really feel like that much of an age gap, they made us feel really at home.
WOODS: They’re young guys at heart.
LEARN: Yeah they do things differently, like they go out for dinners and they get nice beer and they do things that like 35-year-olds do, but they still hung out and chilled with us.
WOODS: Well like, we’re boring and they’re silly, but they’re 35 and we’re 20, so it evens out.
"We’re not pop punk anymore."
As a new band coming into the scene, how did you guys find your sound?
LEARN: We’re not pop punk anymore. We had that label with Alive In Your Eyes [in 2015] and we’re not that anymore. I still love pop punk, I still listen to pop punk, but we’re not a pop-punk band anymore.
WOODS: It’s just punk.
WOODS: Yeah we get post-hardcore a lot now, too.
You can definitely hear the Alexisonfire influence in the newer tunes so the post-hardcore comment makes sense. What was the Hamilton, ON, music scene like for you guys as kids going to shows?
WOODS: We were kids when Counterparts were on the rise. Post-Counterparts it was a lot of pop punk.
Adam, we heard you had a rough time in a mosh pit awhile ago. Did you literally break your neck?
WOODS: It was a bear attack.
CLARKE: Yeah, I fought a bear actually… [Laughs.] A long time ago I was at a show, I think it was 2010, and some kid crowdsurfing landed on my neck, and it cracked. I remember that night I hurt my foot more, for like a month my foot was the thing that hurt more and my neck progressively got worse. It got to a point where I went to the hospital and they checked and said it was just muscular. Then six, seven months go by and it’s even worse, to the point where I’m walking through my high school holding my chin up and holding my neck. I looked like I was always thinking.
WOODS: This became a thing at our high school.
CLARKE: Because my neck couldn’t support itself. It was that painful! I was taking this muscle medication that they had given me for months on end. One night my mom forced me to go to the hospital, they checked me out again and found that I had a benign tumor on my C2 vertebrae, and I was literally about to collapse inside myself, or bleed out or something… So I was in the hospital for a month on bed rest.
WOODS: Then a big neck-brace for like a year after.
CLARKE: I was the neck-brace kid for a long time.
What show was it?
That’s a great show to break your neck at. You’re good now though, correct?
CLARKE: Yeah I’m good. I’ve got titanium rods in my neck. I’m grateful for it, though.
That didn’t deter you from music at all?
CLARKE: No not at all—it encouraged me more! Because I loved going to shows and I was this kid in this massive, stupid neck-brace so all the band guys would come up to me and ask me about it and I started meeting them and learn things about how the scene worked. It definitely helped a lot. It’s a blessing in disguise.
So getting back to the band, you guys have a new full-length record coming out. What did you learn when putting together this album?
WOODS: We’ve only ever been the band that’s had 12 minutes of music, because we had the EP, and it’s barely an EP, so we put a year into writing 10 songs and now we’re like “We know everything about each other…” [Laughs.] We actually got denied at the border the first time we went to record it, so then we had a whole summer before we could rebook the studio and we just made the songs 10 times better over the summer.
CLARKE: We were able to get Derek [DiScanio of State Champs] because of that, too.
LEARN: I feel like we’ve learned how to write as a band now. We’ve learned everyone’s strengths, everyone’s weaknesses; everyone can come together and do what they do best for the band. We have a system now.
WOODS: It was no more like, let’s just be the band that we would listen to. And it is that.
What was it about being in a touring band that appealed to you guys? You chased this right out of high school, what did you want to accomplish playing your music on the road?
LEARN: I honestly just wanted to get away from home life. I just wanted to get out of my house. I remember going to shows and looking at the E-350 in the parking lot with the trailer and just being like, “Fuck. That’s the coolest thing.” Now we’re doing it. Oh, quick side note, it’s really funny when you tell a bank accountant that you’re in a band.
"Don’t fuckin’ do pay-to-plays, don’t be dumb, never do a pay-to-play show ever."
What sort of advice would you give to kids trying to make it in a band?
LEARN: Put all of the money you have into it. Do it right.
WOODS: Yeah don’t cheap out on things.
LEARN: If you’re doing music because you want to do it for a number of years and you want to do it professionally, then put the money down. Take pride in your work, don’t settle, if you don’t think something is good enough, it’s probably not. Do everything to where you’re 100 percent satisfied with what you’ve done.
CLARKE: Be smart with your money, too. Don’t buy Facebook likes.
LEARN: Yeah don’t do any of that stupid shit. That stuff comes in time. Oh and don’t fuckin’ do pay-to-plays, don’t be dumb, never do a pay-to-play show ever.
CLARKE: Find a good producer, find someone who is sick at making music videos and get some really cool artwork.
WOODS: Just make bands. The community is the most important thing. If you’re a kid and you’re nervous about doing it, start a band and play live.
CLARKE: Yeah make bands, get your friends stoked on your bands and work with people in your scene, that’s all you have to worry about. When you’re young it doesn’t matter if you play out of town, just make sure you guys are killing it in your hometown before you really try to do any crazy tour or try to shop a record. Just own your scene first.