Sunday, 7 February 2016

An Interview With J Prozac

A massive thank you today to J Prozac (aka Jay Gauvin) for taking the time in what is currently a busy schedule for him to answer my questions. I don't do many interviews but the few i have attempted have all been blessed by the people answering the questions all being very good subjects. Jay certainly falls into that category.....

Q) i discovered punk in the late 70's at school when a mate started showing me the NME, Melody Maker and Sounds music papers. before that i was listening to mostly chart stuff but my tastes changed pretty much over night (helped by the John Peel radio show). did you have a similar moment of discovery? which bands introduced you to punk?

A) Well, I heard hints of classic punk stuff that was on the radio or MTV in the mid/late 80's and early 90's...stuff like the occasional Ramones/Clash/Social Distortion song, but it didn't really register with me beyond everything else I listened to...which was lot's of hair metal, heavy metal, Beach Boys and Bangles, some rap and hip hop and modern rock at the time. I picked up a Social Distortion album in the early 90's...but i didn't get the punk thing yet...and music had not yet become more than just music. The early 90's Alternative/Punk is where I started getting a feeling...with Soul Asylum's "Grave Dancers union being a stand out...and hearing bands like The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Nirvana and so forth. I started watching lot's of BMX/Skate videos around 93'/94' and this was my first real exposure to all this music that was not on the radio...and I searched feverishly for all these bands in a new world of music. At the same time, Greenday, The Offspring, Bad Religion, Weezer, Rancid all the "NEW" bands blowing up the radio/MTV and the crossover began. I picked up "NOFX: White Trash, Two Heebs and a Bean" from hearing a song in a BMX video...and that was the album...the point that It all changed. I totally discovered this music on my myself....but it lead me into a lifetime of adventure, love and friendships. In later years I found I had a couple friends in high school that listened to punk, but i didn't get the exposure then. It's a total blur at this point! So much happened in such a short amount of time. Within the next year or so I discovered Screeching Weasel/MTX/The Queers and the Lookout Records family of bands....and I found my home base, and also an even deeper connection and love for punk rock...and leading me back to those classic bands i heard in the 80's but didn't get at the time.

Q) I read that you sold merchandise for the queers whilst they toured with awesome bands like the lillingtons. also as far as I'm aware your first band was Grand Prixx. can you talk a little about those early days and say how you got to hang out with cool bands and was this why you decided you could get on stage yourself and front your own band.

A) Yes, The GrandPrixx was my first band. We formed in January of 1998 after I met a kid at a local show I had seen several times at shows at this little all ages venue. He always wore Screeching Weasel shirts and bands of the sort. We finally talked and within a week started a band together. At this point I didn't know any bands yet, other than a couple local hardcore bands of my friends. We quickly became the band to play all the local punk shows and with touring bands on labels like BYO/Hopeless/Lookout abs so forth...and travelling often to Boston and Porstmouth, NH. My BMX connections and new found punk rock family began growing immensely and fast! Within the first few months of being in the band, I became friends with and played shows with many bands I had spent past years listening to and being inspired by like The Useless Fucks, The Queers, Nobodys, The Howards, The Vapids, Jon Cougar Concentration Camp and so on. These were the connections that eventually leado to me being asked by Joe Queers in 2000 to join The Queers on the 2nd leg of their US tour with The Lillingtons and Explosion...and later with The Queers/Teen Idols/Pinhead Circus. Besides being in a van for weeks with one of my all time favorite bands, I also made some really cool friends and met so many rad bands and people. Christ, on those tours I got to meet/hang/have lunch with people like Metal Mike of Angry Samoans, Dusty Watson of Agent Orange/Dickinson Dale, Ben Weasel, Joey Ramone and so on. Had lots of fun and kept friendships with Teen Idols, The Queers and many of the players who played in the band, Kody Lillington and many other bands and people I met on those tours.
And yes. ..I saw The Lillingtons like 30 nights in a row!
Also slept over the house of the owner of Hopeless Records, got to hang at the Lookout Records store/offices, see Screeching Weasel for the first time, saw many friends around the country and also ran into fans of my band as well at at many of the shows.

Q) From GrandPrixx to The Prozacs..... How did that come about?

A) The GrandPrixx had a really good run for a couple years, and at the time it was quite consuming and fun. The band was mainly Eli (guitarist ) and I. We started the band together, but we were growing apart within the 3 years or so we were active. Everyone in the band had different desires and we were fragmenting in different music/life directions, I started a side project just for fun and something new to stay active. This was in September 2001 that I pulled together the first incarnation of The Prozacs. The GrandPrixx were active off and on at this point due to members moving away for college and whatnot. We released our only full length album on Forks In Hand Records (Big D & The Kids Table's label) and played our last show in January 2002. We had a pretty bitter break up that spring when Eli returned from college and I expressed my desire to pursue The Prozacs as The GrandPrixx just wasn't fun anymore and seemed to have lost its heart. This was the big transition point..and after making demos of 16 songs with (at this point) the 3rd incarnation of The Prozacs, we entered the studio that fall of 2002 to make "Thanks For Nothing".

Q) Is it difficult combining a full time job, band duties and family life?

A) Yeah it sucks! I have no clue how I'm still doing it to be honest. If I could only get rid of the job....

Q) What's the best part of being in a band? Putting records out or playing live?

A) If I have to answer honestly, as much as I love getting on's writing, recording and releasing music that is the big "high" for me.

Q) Did you intend splitting up for good a couple of years ago or was it always the intention for the prozacs to return?

A) Do you want the short answer...or the long one? Ha!

Yes, I thought that I was gonna be ending The Prozacs for good in 2014. It felt like I had 2 versions of The Prozacs, whIch I basically did...but it felt broken and incomplete from when it was my only musical outlet all those years. One version revolved around my drummer Jimmy....with the direction we were heading spilling into the foundation of Stiletto Bomb.

The other version was with my other drummer, Matty Prozac...who had been with me more or less since 2005, on 2 out 3 of the full lengths and for the bulk of our touring years.

While the Jimmy version of the band was having a hard time making time to play and write in 2011/2012 due to just life in general and not being able to line up or time, I started working on a studio solo album. In the summer of 2012, Matty (who was only filling in occasionally for shows with The Prozacs) and I started writing me material together as "J Prozac & The Other Guys". It only lasted 3 practices, then at the end of 2012, Matty rejoined The Prozacs, along with a new line up, and we carried over the tunes.

At this point I had an albums worth of songs sitting with Jimmy, and writing new songs with Matty and the new Prozacs line up, and a few songs bouncing between them both. This Prozacs line up only lasted a few months and broke up mid 2013.

I spent the spring/summer working demos with Bil McRackin, then went to Vancouver that summer to record the Doubtfire album

I got back with Jimmy in early 2014 with an all star local line up, including my wife on vocals, to preform for my solo album release. We finished wiring a few tunes that Jimmy and I were writing for the Prozacs shoving we were slowly working on for the solo release show. This line up breathed me life and dynamics into the tunes that really have them some steps away from The Prozacs...and this eventually became Stiletto Bomb.

In the meantime, Matty and I were auditioning players and writing...but unsure if it was going to continue as The Prozacs or not. It was decided to move ahead The Sonic Diffusers, but we spent the next few months performing as J Prozac....until August 2014 when we called it quits.

In early 2015, Matty joined Stiletto Bomb, replacing Jimmy. At this point I was ready to sink everything into Stiletto Bomb musically...and Matty and I started carrying over songs we were writing for the Sonic Diffuser project, but quickly realized it wasn't the right fit aso Stiletto Bomb was growing more into its own.

In the fall of 2015, Matty and I started jamming again with the intent of making a studio album to move on from the material we were holding. After a couple of practices, and spending the last couple years trying way to hard to distinguish what's Prozacs and not. ..I decided to stop fighting it. So I guess we never really left. ...but we are back anyway!

Q) how is it having your wife singing with Stiletto Bomb (i know from some of her comments that she has the occasional doubts about getting up on stage but whilst i've not been fortunate to see you guys live, for me she fits in great with the recorded side of things)

A) Having a band with Andy is pretty awesome! It definitely presents many challenges, with things like getting the kids watched the practices and shows though. We are not super active, due to the scheduling conflicts and family commitments between members, but we try to make the time we have count. Andy has a great voice and I love her singing, and singing with her. Definitely cool being on stage together.

Q) Out of all your releases, which is your favourite?

A) This is a bit of a tough question...but it's a toss between my solo album "Here Is My Heart" and The Prozacs "Questions, Answers & Things Never Found". Probably has much to do with the fact both albums come from very personal places, and they both kind of stretched me in new directions in song writing.

Q) The Prozacs have just released details about a new ep but this is just the beginning of what promises to be a productive year for you. Would you like to reveal your plans for 2016...

A) Yes, the new Prozacs EP comes out on February 29th! It's being released with Outloud! Records on CD. The EP is a little taste of things to come, derived from a session of demo material for solo, Sonic Diffuser and Prozacs B-sides.

We have a new full length album written and are gearing up for the studio. It's gonna be called "Exist" and is looking to be about 12 brand new songs. Artwork is ready to go as well, illustrated by Ole O'Brian.

Stiletto Bomb is also busy writing for our debut full length....hopefully later this year. We will see what happens!

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