“Eighteen’s a tough age, 46 is a tough age, everything in life is apparently tough age. We’re reclaiming it,” says frontman Jarret Samson. It’s hard to believe this with Tough Age, however, who had only been together for 10 months when the band was signed to Mint Records for their self-titled debut.
“It’s self-titled because I don’t feel right naming the first record”, Samson said of the title, “The Ramones’ [first record] was called The Ramones and what else are you going to name your first record?”
The musicians in Tough Age are a chimera typical of Vancouver. Samson just finished stints in Apollo Ghosts and Korean Gut, while Chris Martell still drums in Collapsing Opposites. Rounding out the line-up is rhythm guitarist Penny Clark and bassist Lauren Smith. “If you’re involved in music or art, or anything outside of working a job, this city actually hates you,” Jarrett relates about Vancouver’s hardships, “and being in a band with someone you like gives you an excuse to hang out with people you like.”
Like its origins, Tough Age’s cited influences are studied and reverent. Samson lists dozens of acts including Guided by Voices and the Clean that shape this energetic power pop record and the production finds its backbone in their techniques. “My method of recording is pretty live off the floor. I don’t allow us to have more than three takes. We do the tracks all live and only the vocals and the leads are overdubbed,” he describes of the process.
Pretty much everything about this record happened by accident, but their appearance at the annual Fall Down Get Down is a repeat for Samson. “It’s really fun getting to play with all your friends,” he mentions. “It doesn’t matter if it’s only half the room if everyone there wants to hear you.” And Tough Age is a band really worth listening for.
Tough Age releases its self-titled album on November 12. The band will play at the Biltmore on November 16.
By Mathieu Youdan