The world of the television advert and the chart hit have often collided in the past. With the likes of The Noisettes, The Bellamy Brothers, Chairlift and even Babylon Zoo having already reaped their reward (i.e. the top 10 hits), Canadian trio ‘Jon and Roy’ jumped at the chance when VW asked to feature their sleeper hit “Another Noon’ in their new advert. Having released debut album Sittin’ Back (as a duo)in 2005, the boys took a break for solo outings before joining forced with additional member Ryan Tonnelli for new album Another Noon.__zap! bang! grabbed a moment with vocalist/guitarist Jon Middleton to find out about Canada’s newest exports.
So, how did ‘Jon and Roy’ first come about?
Basically, a mutual friend of mine and Roy’s connected us and we began playing music together.
‘Jon and Roy’ is now a trio; why are you not Jon & Roy & Ryan?
The problem is that we are so comfortable with our name at this point, it doesn’t make sense to change it (we’ve been a band for four years.) Oh, and I guess I should add that our bass player, Ryan Tonelli, only joined about a year ago… and he also if fine with it.
Is there scope for a possible fourth member?
We often perform with a fourth musician (a mandolin, violin player) and he will be joining us more and more in the next couple months. We would like to keep it a fairly small group, but at the same time we have no set ideas. I could see adding more musicians.
What made you abandon dreams of beer brewing and teaching in favour of music?
It’s quite simple really. Its a tugging need of ours to make music, and it is our favourite thing in the world to do.
Having had success as both a solo artist and a member of ‘Jon & Roy’, which do you prefer?
They are both rewarding in their own ways. I would say the best thing about recording as a group is getting a mix of musical ideas. For instance, I love when I show up to a session and a new part/instrument has been recorded that I really dig and I haven’t heard before, I like that. As for solo recording, its enjoyable to see what your own mind can come up with musically.
Do you find collaborating forces you to push your musical boundaries?
Well, in all honesty there’s not too much solo artist stuff going on at this point. But that being said, in some ways, its almost the opposite — making music outside of this group is where I find the most musical experimentation. However, there is a lot of musical freedom in ‘Jon & Roy’.
The album has a very relaxed fireside feel, is this a reflection of your Victoria, BC roots?
I would say yes, definitely a reflection of growing up in B.C. It is a very relaxed place in general, lots of trees, bodies of water, mountains, these kinds of things. Growing up I did lots of fireside sitting and I don’t doubt that those experiences seeped into my subconscious and now come out in the music I write.
A good song is a good song, there is no formula.
Canadian music is slowly having a larger impact on the international music scene. What do you think has brought about the change?
Hmm, I think it partly has to do with the fact that Canadian musicians are often a bit separated from the larger music scene. It’s a bit more of a folksy thing up here, not musically I mean. Just that its a little more straight ahead and music focused. That is a generalisation of course — Canada did produce Celine Dion and Nickelback. But I think having this separation and simplicity allows bands and musicians to do their own thing and interpret American music, for example, in their own way… and I think people are always hungry for music that is made simply because the artists love playing it.
What do you feel are the vital ingredients of a good song?
Hmm, I’ve thought about this before with a friend. A good song is a good song, there is no formula. Something that takes you somewhere — lifts you up somewhere else and then drops you down when its done, and you’re left saying, wow, that was really good!
What, in your eyes, is the perfect song?
Off the top of my head, the perfect song is “Isis” by Bob Dylan. Or “Teme de la quebrada de humahuaca” by Inti Illimani. Its an obscure song, and you gotta be in a certain mood to get into it, but when you do, its perfect.
Who are your musical heroes?
Bob Dylan and Bob Marley. Those are two musicians who I always can come back to, they both have so much good material.
Now that the album Another Noon has been released, will you return to your respective solo projects or continue with ‘Jon & Roy’?
Well, ‘Jon and Roy’ is in the process of doing another album, so definitely continuing with that. But I do plan on recording something solo in the New Year.
When will the UK see a Jon & Roy tour?
Hopefully as soon as we can.
Another Noon is out now on Pacific Records. Visit Jon and Roy’s Official Site for more details.