Hot Gig Alert (10/24): JUNOS’ ‘Rock Album of the Year’ winner JJ Wilde takes on Boston
(photo credit: Sandra Lee)
Fresh off a win for Junos’ ‘Rock Album of the Year’, the first female winner since “Jagged Little Pill” by the legendary Alanis Morissette, JJ Wilde, will be making her way to Boston this Sunday night opening for The Record Company. And it’s an absolute no-miss! Filling in some very large shoes, Wilde’s career is sure to have the length that Morissette has experienced and the show Sunday night in Boston is something you definitely need to see. A gritty rock and roll Canadien queen is always a standout if history has told us anything and Wilde’s return to Boston is much anticipated.
With “Ruthless” released mid-pandemic and the “Wilde” EP earlier this year, the set is sure to be stacked and while the slot is in an opening position, it’s only a sneak peek of what is sure to come for Wilde in these next few months as touring returns. We knew we wanted to chat with Wilde when we had the chance to talk to her about everything from her return to touring and the process of releasing an award-winning record in the middle of a pandemic.
Find our chat below and hope to see you at the show! Doors are opening at 6 pm with JJ and her band taking the stage at 7 pm. Limited tickets are still available here, but jump on them quick, JJ Wilde is a performance you’ll never forget!
Obviously, a lot of really great things have been happening lately for you. You won the Juno for Best Rock Album, you’re back on tour. The tour you’re on right now, you’re out with The Record Company, you have your own tour in Europe coming up, you’re going out with The Glorious Sons again. Maybe how have these first shows back been?
JJ Wilde: Oh my goodness, I can’t even explain to you how amazing it feels to be doing this again, on the road. After almost two years of sitting in my fucking apartment. Waiting and absolutely going crazy and writing than not writing. It has been such a release being back on tour. All I can say is I’m so grateful for where it’s brought me and, being able to be on the road again.
It was such a strange feeling the first few shows. We’ve been out for I think almost ten days now and it’s an unexplainable energy. I just feel so grateful, and you can feel it with the other band too. People are just excited. And it’s different, Covid has made this whole experience different. In so many ways. I can’t go to the merch table after the show to meet people, which was literally one of my favorite things about doing this, is meeting people. So that’s been really strange, but at the same time, being in the same room as people and enjoying something, it’s something I’m just so grateful for.
It’s definitely different but I don’t think, me as someone who covers music, or fans, or you as an artist, I don’t think we’re ever going to take this for granted ever again even if it feels different.
JJ: Yes, it’s so crazy to feel that sense of gratuity. Everybody’s feeling the same thing in the room, and that’s been a constant thing for me. Almost overwhelming, but on a usual day, pre-pandemic, people would be coming to shows, they have their like day before it, they get stressed, vibing, whatever, and all this energy gets brought into the room. I just feel like, with this tour, it feels right. Everybody is just excited to be at a show again. It’s like nothing else matters. Love it!
You kind of talked about it before, I think we were all sitting in our houses lost. You released an album, “Ruthless”, in the middle of the pandemic. And again, congratulations, I know it’s been a few months, but it was a huge iconic moment for you to win Best Rock Album.
JJ: Thank you!
You’re welcome of course. To be the first woman in 25 years to win it, of course, we’ll talk about that. When you realized touring was going to be a thing, were there any special preparations that you took on before hitting the road? Because obviously, you have a huge schedule coming up, you’ll be on tour for the next few months.
JJ: I mean, yeah, there’s a ton that has changed in between that time for us, it’s crazy. It feels like so long ago and it also feels not that long ago. Practicing with my band again, there was quite a bit of time as well where depending on where you were, most of my band is from Toronto, that was a hot spot for a while. And you weren’t even allowed to leave your home. So even if we wanted to, we couldn’t practice together which I think was a big struggle. You’re used to being with these people in close quarters for weeks at a time. And then all of a sudden, you’re all separate from each other, that was very strange. But we did have a chance to get back together a couple of times. As things opened up, we started rehearsing again and that was a huge adjustment. From not playing any music to then being in the band again, which was awesome. Yeah, there’s been a few things. I went on in-ears (monitors) for the first time, that’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a while, but I was a little afraid to because it’s not the same experience on stage. It’s something I’m getting used to. Same thing as when getting to practice again though. Getting back in the room, and getting used to being on stage with each other, and having that energy, each player. But it comes back pretty quick.
You said you’re using in-ears for the first time?
JJ: Yeah, I had never done in-ears before. I was a little nervous because even when I’m recording music, I like to take one headphone off so I can hear myself. I’m loving it. Definitely getting used to it. Then being on stage for the first time in a long time, using them, was an adjustment but it feels great.
Then taking it back to the award, following in the footsteps of Alanis Morrisette, being the first female winner since 1996 which is crazy to me.
JJ: Right? Why has it taken so long, there are tons of women making music. It’s not for lack of talent, there are so many talented women making music. Why did it take 25 years? But anyway (laughs).
Especially because Canada is so supportive of live music, or music in general. But maybe the feelings or emotions that day, once you were named the winner of this award for an album that you created in a pandemic.
JJ: Oh it was very surreal. I got the call of being nominated, they do actually keep it a secret until the day of like I didn’t know at all leading up to it. But of course, one of my team members called me, they gave me the news, Scarlett, she was so excited to tell me. I was at my best friend’s house and it was one of the first visits that we had. I was like sitting on her back porch. But she called me and I just shrieked with one of my best friends, Rachel, I was at her place. She was somebody where we knew each other for over ten years, and she saw me doing my first open mic, playing at bars for three hours, or for free beers. So after that, to be at her house and get the call, it was so crazy. We just had a laugh for a while, being like, ‘what the fuck?’ It was just perfect.
That’s amazing. Then you released the “Wilde” EP, the self-titled, some people make their self-titled the fifth album, the first album, maybe the reasoning behind the choice to make it this album. Why did you feel this was the record you wanted to make your self-titled?
JJ: Well, to me, all my songs are pretty personal, so it’s a look into my world. As much as I don’t want to make it a pandemic thing. First off, the EP was a form of escapism. I wanted to escape, and I wanted to give fans a place to go that wasn’t truly serious. I had so much fun with these songs, I mean there are serious moments on the EP, but for the majority, I kept it pretty light. In just the sense that there is so much heaviness going on in the world and there’s so much that people are digesting right now. So I just wanted to make something that was fun.
Then I know from speaking to you before, while touring at that time was pretty new for you like in venues, you had been writing music for so long. Did that writing process change for you in the pandemic, how did the pandemic change that for you? You spoke earlier about how it was a a therapeutic place for you but maybe the biggest difference you feel when you were writing these songs?
JJ: The songwriting process for me has drastically changed in the pandemic, and I think it changed for a lot of artists. I can’t speak for them but a co-write is a common thing, or even just having someone in the room with you. That whole process of writing, I love collaborating and all of that. So when I was doing co-writes with my producer, we wrote a lot of the stuff together, it was all over Zoom. Then when we tried to share notes, something happens when you’re in the room where everything can be settled with one conversation. Then when you’re doing everything remotely, it’s weeks at times with Zoom and calls, it’s a lot more communication to get to what would have taken ten minutes in a room when we could be together. But that was an insane learning experience which I found very helpful. Because you can write with someone in England, you can find connections all over the world that you couldn’t before. And then also I would say being at home, the first three months, I don’t think I wrote anything. Because I was in shock, like ‘what’s going on?’
You weren’t alone.
JJ: Yeah it was just really processing everything. So I didn’t write at all for a bit, and then all of the sudden I was writing constantly. Then it became again, an escape. It was like all of my frustrations and then all of the highs and lows. It definitely was extreme highs and lows the entire pandemic. Like, ‘what the fuck am I doing’ to ‘okay, nothing’s going to stop me!’, kind of vibe. So many crises, when the thing that gives you the most and what you love the most, is just gone. It’s weird! It’s a strange feeling. I’m not the only one.
Oh absolutely not.
JJ: I mean it’s not just music, it’s with anything you put your all into, you’re just told to stop doing any of it. Whether that’s art, whether that’s your career, whether that’s film. It’s anything, the experiences people had to go through. It’s pretty heavy, but at the same time, I feel grateful for it all.
Then to end it off, I would ask what the next few months look like, but I know the next few months are filled with touring. The Glorious Sons run, your own European tour, but maybe hopes or goals for these next few months. Maybe personal and/or professional for you in these next few months as you hit the road again?
JJ: Oh like where I want to be. I’m hoping that we can continue touring, I want to release music and be able to tour it. So I’ve been writing quite a bit, obviously, a lot of people have in the pandemic, but now that we’ve opened up gradually with touring. We’re literally on the road till Spring and then festival season. I’m hoping to travel this summer again, get to play a lot of places I couldn’t last year. I know we’re going to Austria and Germany so I’m hoping to build maybe a summer thing around that, that would be so awesome. But it’s hard to say and think about things without being sure. It’s hard to think about going forward because I don’t know (laughs) but there are definitely goals. We just want to keep touring for as long as possible because it’s been some time.