This week, over 100 emerging bands and solo musicians will gather in Halifax, Nova Scotia to rock the port city for the 26th annual Halifax Pop Explosion - a festival and conference dedicated to helping music fans discover Canada's rising stars.
This year's event will be a bit different from previous offerings as the concert series coincides with day one of cannabis legalization—something that Josée Caron and Lucy Niles of the post-classic rock band Partner are particularly stoked about since they'll be playing the Pop Explosion's 'Countdown to Legalization' concert on Tuesday.
"I think legalization's great," Lucy told Civilized recently, though she doesn't think the new laws go far enough since previous cannabis offenders will still serve out their sentences or have their infractions stuck to their criminal records despite the repeal of prohibition.
"I think they should let all the drug dealers out of jail because it's kind of bullshit. That's my opinion," she added. "I just think it's good that they'll be able to educate the youth about weed instead of just not telling them what they should know."
'Every song's been touched by herb'
James: Does cannabis play a role in your creative process at all?
Lucy: Oh yeah.
Josée: Yeah, 100 percent.
James: Is there a specific song that you wrote, or revised or recorded on cannabis in specific?
Lucy: Like every song. Every song's been touched by herb. If we started a song while we were sober, we would've gotten ripped to finish it.
James: So how does cannabis contribute to your creative process?
Lucy: It makes the repetitive stuff interesting. If we play a song 12 times in a row, it's a lot more fun when you're stoned.
Josée: And it helps us think outside the box.
Lucy: Yeah, it gives you lots of great ideas.
Josée: And confidence. It helps me be more present and let loose a bit more, you know.
Lucy: Yeah, Josée likes to smoke weed right before we go onstage. I usually wait a little bit because sometimes I forget how to play the song. You don't want to relax enough that you fuck up.
Josée: I never forget.
'You don't want to wear wet stinky shoes on tour'
James: What would you say is the biggest difference between touring in reality versus the representation of touring in movies like 'Almost Famous'?
Lucy: Ooh, good question. I think there's a lot more sitting around in an actual tour. There's some overlap late at night between expectations versus reality, but I would say a lot more sitting around and not doing anything than is depicted in the films.
James: So the movies are go, go, go but actual touring is more boring?
Josée: Yeah, a lot of being alone with your thoughts.
James: That could explain why a lot of musicians abuse alcohol and drugs since there's a lot of downtime in between those big peaks of energy.
Lucy: It's true.
James: If you could go back in time and give your younger selves some advice before they went on their first tour, what would you say?
Lucy: I would say always bring boots in case it rains because you don't want to wear stinky wet shoes on tour.
James: Sounds miserable.
Lucy: Yeah, I can't mess around with wet shoes. And a lot of packing the right stuff so you're not uncomfortable. But as for other advice, what do you think Josée?
Josée: I'm just remembering how freaked out I was during the first tour we actually did, so I would probably say Toronto was...
James: So, you two are not a couple—even though you probably get asked that in every interview, right?
Lucy: Yeah, not a couple, no.
James: But what's your relationship like on the road. Does it become like a sibling thing, or do you ever bicker like an old married couple?
Lucy: Honestly, it's 90 percent siblings, 10 percent married couple.
James: What brings out that 10 percent? What kind of arguments or situations?
Lucy: Well, we have our child, which is the band, so we just both want what's best for our beloved child. But it's pretty sibling-y in the car, like going on a road trip with your siblings or whatever, it's kind of like that. Pretty fun most of the time.
James: Do you find there's any discrepancy between the way male and female musicians are treated?
Lucy: We've only ever been women on tour, so if we were to swap bodies or whatever and then experience being a male on tour, we'd probably notice different stuff. Since we've started, some people have just been surprised that we could play guitar. Nobody ever told us, "Get off the stage girl!" But people were like, "Whoa, like you can really play a guitar."
James: And you've said Tegan and Sara are your biggest inspirations. Is there a song in their catalog that makes you go, "Fuck, I wish I wrote that."
Lucy: Oh, good question. I'm glad that they wrote all their songs so that we could be inspired by them.
James: That's cool. More appreciation than envy.
Josée: I'd say 'Back in Your Head'—their hit.
Lucy: Yeah, I would've been down to write 'Back in Your Head.'
'I think we're pretty over being compared to Weezer'
James: Is there a band that you hate being compared to?
Lucy: I think we're pretty over being compared to Weezer at this point—just because we never really intended to just sound like Weezer and we have a lot of songs that don't. So, I think that we would be happy to not be compared to Weezer again, but I don't hate it or anything. Any time someone's talking about you, you should be grateful that they're putting you out there.
James: Yeah, absolutely. And it's not like a band that flamed out or something. Weezer is pretty well respected, so it's better than being compared to Peter Frampton or something like that.
Lucy: I think it'd be kind of cool if we were compared to Peter Frampton. Just because it would be a huge departure. I'd roll with it.
James : Aside from that, what milestone would make you feel like you've really made it in the music industry?
Josée: Probably meeting Tegan and Sara.
Lucy: Yeah, meeting Tegan and Sara. And any of the big things that people want to do, but we kind of have like we're shooting for the moon, you know. I dunno. I think stuff happens to you, and then you adjust your expectations. I don't know if there's even a moment where you stop and think, "We've really made it." I kind of felt like that at Polaris.
James: What's the most surreal moment you've had as your career has developed? Something that made you think, "Oh wow, this is actually happening as opposed to just a daydream."
Josée: Getting recognized.
Lucy: Yeah, when we're walking in the road and people say, "Hey it's Partner."
James: Is that awkward? I just finished a tour with Chelsea Handler and sometimes when fans interacted with her, they didn't seem to see her as a person. She was more like a Mary Magdalene type icon.
Lucy: We're not Mary Magdalene famous yet, so it's probably pretty different for us. But no, it's just very flattering and exciting.
James: Nice, the Mary Magdalene adoration is soon to come. So you're back in Halifax for the Pop Explosion this week. What do you love most about visiting Halifax?
Josée: I like the water, like the waterfront and the city is really beautiful and I have a lot of memories.
Lucy: Lots of good memories.
James: Is there one thing you have to do whenever you visit Halifax or the Maritimes?
Josée: I'm gonna go for brunch with my Grampy.
Lucy: Yeah, that's something every time.
James: That's really sweet. Is there a specific brunch place that you go to?
Josée: Anywhere as long as Grampy's there.
James: Nice. So what's the next big thing after Pop Explosion wraps for you two?
Josée: We are working on an EP. Should be out 2019, keep an eye out. And we're gonna do a little tour in the states.
James: Awesome. Anything you'd like to add before we wrap this up?
Lucy: Stay blazed [laughs].