The punk rock stars have aligned under the most unlikely of situations. Andrew Conroy, a 23 year-old Canadian from Vancouver, has teamed up with Tom Thacker (Sum 41, Gob), Darrin Pfeiffer (Goldfinger), and Anthony Bleed (Die Mannequin) to form one of the most authentic supergroups to surface this year — Rain City Rockers. Mixing the sheer experience and talent of Thacker, Pfeiffer, and Bleed with the youthful energy of Conroy makes this band one of of the best stories to surface in recent punk rock memory.
Recording the debut LP, which is due out digitally and in stores September 16, live in the floor in one day, Conroy describes it as “sort-of pop rock.” It’s an unlikely story, having someone so young call upon those with decades of experience to form this group, but that’s what makes it such an unforgettable collaboration. Conroy describes working with these veterans as, “An interesting experience to see how they perform together. It’s been a learning experience. I’ve learned a lot by just getting to play with them.”
Want to know how the group came together and what we can expect from Rain City Rockers in the future? Scroll below to read a full interview with Conroy about how Ran City Rockers came to be and where the band is headed in future months.
Substream Magazine: Hi Andrew! Thanks for joining us today. Tell me about Rain City Rockers.
Andrew Conroy: I kinda got the idea a few years ago when I was in San Francisco. I was going vinyl shopping and looking through all the record I had purchased, like some Rolling Stone stuff and Led Zeppelin stuff and the thing I really liked about those records is the fact that they were recorded live off the floor with no click tracks — with great musicians. It got me thinking, “how can I do this in the 21st century? How can I take the best parts of what made music great in the ’60s and ’70s?” And I immediately thought of my friend Darrin Pfeiffer, who’s from the band Goldfinger to play drums, because he’s a really solid drummer. And I also thought of my friend Tom Thacker who plays in Sum 41 and Gob. At that point it was just a thought. I didn’t even reach out them until a year later, after I had written most of the material for the record. They were really excited by it and wanted to be a part of it as soon as they heard the demos.
That’s really cool. How did these relationships develop prior to approaching them about the project?
Darrin, I met in Toronto. He had married Goldfinger’s Canadian publicist and I was living in Toronto and working in a recording studio and Darrin was working in the same studio. I actually met Tom by messaging him on MySpace back in the day when I was 15 or 16. I sent him a message and he actually responded to me, which I never expected. Over the years he kept responding to my emails and giving me suggestions on my songs and we eventually wrote some songs together and became friends over the Internet.
What’s the collaboration been like?
The one thing I always said to myself was, “don’t act star struck,” because I grew up listening to their records and being totally influenced by their bands. I was always reminding myself just to play it cool and act like I was on their level — but inside I was totally freaking out. Collaborating wise, it’s always been a lot of fun because when you have the opportunity to play with really good musicians it takes the songs to a whole new level. It’s an interesting experience to see how they perform together. It’s been a learning experience. I’ve learned a lot by just getting to play with them.
Totally. Everybody gets that “star struck” moment. How did you deal with that? Did you face any anxiety?
Definitely. I’m sure a lot of songwriters experience this as well, but I’m constantly doubting my own work. So presenting it to guys who have influenced me can be nerve-wrecking at times. You’re always wondering, “what if these songs aren’t actually good enough? What if they’re laughing at these songs behind my back?” Not that they would — but there’s always that level of anxiety going into something like this.
So the record was recorded off the floor?
Yeah, we recorded it live off the floor. We did the whole thing in one day.
Tell me more about this experience.
Sure. The first thing we had to do was schedule it. This was really hard because obviously working around their band schedules was difficult and then we had to work around another band’s schedule because our bass player was Anthony Bleed from Die Mannequin. We also had a keyboard player and two vocalists as well. We scheduled the thing 8 months in advance, but it worked out. everyone got to Vancouver and it worked out really well. The week before I was really nervous because I wasn’t sure if we were going to be able to pull it off because nowadays everyone takes months if not year to make an album and here we are trying to be ambitious enough to do it in one day. And this is a group of people who have never actually played together as a band. It was sort of up in the air. It worked out in the end, which was great. It was a lot of fun. We were cracking jokes the entire time. It really felt natural, playing together. The recording turned out great and doing it in a day was a little hectic but it was probably the most fun recording experience I’ve ever had.
How would you describe the record?
I guess it’s sort-of pop rock. I try to stay away from the label pop-punk nowadays because bands that call themselves pop punk are a lot more pop thank punk. I’m not going to call it punk because then the punk rockers will be a little offended. It takes elements from all of their bands. But then there’s also influences like Weezer and Rancid as well.
What are the release plans for the record?
The album comes out September 16, it will be available everywhere online and then there will also be a vinyl version and a CD/DVD combo. We filmed the whole recording process.
Should we expect to hear music soon?
Yes. The first single comes out in July. I’m not sure exactly when. But it does come out in July.
If you could tell 16 year-old Andrew that you would be doing this at 23, what would you say to him?
I’d probably say something like, “just enjoy the process.” This is a really tough industry and the chances of this being successful are slim and just enjoy the ride. Appreciate the fact that you have the opportunity to work with people who influence you.
Do you think you catch people not taking you serious because of your age?
No, not at all. People who are true professionals recognize that good songs can come from anyone at any age and I’ve also known these guys for years now and It’s never been a question of working someone with that age. It’s never been an issue. As long as you carry yourself professionally you;ll never run into issues with your age.
Should we expect any future touring plans?
Right now there’s no tour plans. We have to work around a number of different schedules. Once the record comes out, we’ll hopefully do some shows. There are some plans to do some shows but no solid touring plans right now.
Anything else you want to add about the process and the experience?
The actual recording process of doing it live off the floor is something people should really listen to. We didn’t tune the vocals or edit the guitars. It’s all just raw…music. It’s a bunch of people in a room creating music and I think it turned out great and I hope everyone else does too.