Paul Jacobs: 'I remember gatekeepers of the skate scene not liking me'

EN :  Never before have I interviewed the same artist three times. Paul Jacobs is a pillar of the underground scene, a legend in the making....


ENNever before have I interviewed the same artist three times. Paul Jacobs is a pillar of the underground scene, a legend in the making. His new album will be released in a few days; I took the opportunity to discuss his evolution through the years. Paul, thank you so very much for everything!

FR: Jamais je n'avais interviewé un même artiste trois fois. C'est désormais chose faite, et, sans surprise, c'est Paul Jacobs qui se retrouve une fois de plus au milieu de mes drôles de questions. L'artiste canadien est un pillier de la scène underground, une légende en devenir. Son nouvel album paraît dans quelques jours à peine, l'occasion de revenir sur son évolution.

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Let us start with a playlist curated by
Paul Jacobs for Still in Rock


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Introduction

How are you? What’s up with you these days? 

Hey man, I've just been finishing up my 4th music video and doing some rehearsals with the band, getting ready for some live session stuff... enjoying the end of the winter. 

It’s the third time I interview you, my personal record. Have you ever done three interviews with the same person? I hope not ;) 

Dang, I don't think so; we go back now. Thank you for all the support! 

You're very much welcome! Thank you for all the music! You actually started as a one-man band playing garage rock. Your music has evolved into more experimental rock since then. 

I almost feel like I went back to my roots a bit more, more about the song than the energy. 

So... do you miss garage rock? 

I think garage rock is a pretty broad genre. If it's the 2010's era, it hasn't been long enough for me to miss it yet, haha. I still listen to 60's stuff and a lot of bands that I was listening to back then, though. I think change is good in music.

Agreed!


Now, how different is Pink Dogs on the Green Grass from your previous LP? 

I don't think it's too far off, there are hints of the direction I was going in the others. 

So, how would you describe it?

I wouldn't know how to describe it. I went about it like I do with all my albums. Well... I guess with this album I took a long break from the last, so it allowed my music to develop in an interesting way. I'd describe it as who I was during the time of writing/recording, haha! 

And can you tell us about the stories behind two or three songs of your choice (on this LP)? 

There are not too many literal stories behind the songs; everything is pieced together from feelings and emotions. I wrote and recorded this album in between the 2019 Pottery tours, so that was OK; I was checking mixes all over the world. 

Have you been recording music since Covid19? If so, has the health crisis changed the way you write music? 

I was writing a bunch at the beginning; then I just lost motivation because the world was so weird. That's why I started working on all those animations and videos. I figure with all this time I should learn something new. I feel like covid changed everything; nothing will be the same.

Oh... I hope not. But look, you’ve been collaborating with Meag Callen for years now. How has your collaboration evolved over the years? 

Me and Meag have been living together since 2015 so she knows my stuff better than anyone else, she's always down with the music so she's been in the band for maybe 5 years now... Lately, we just worked on a video together, she did all the filming.

Excellent!


The scene

I’ve recently conducted a short empirical study on garage rock and post-punk. I found out that there are more and more albums labelled as such, but that the number of Google queries tends to decrease. Overall, it seems like DIY rock music (generally speaking) is losing grounds. What’s your impression from the inside? Do you find it more and more difficult to get support from playing shows and releasing music? 

I think it's always been difficult. I've been playing in bands since high school, so it's really the only life I know. I think life is difficult in general, haha. But to say rock is dying is something people have asked for decades, and it never died; I just watched a video of an interviewer asking this question to Elliot Smith. 

Maybe it's a zombie? :) Are you part of a "scene", and if so, which one? 

I have never been part of a scene, I have many friends who play music around town, and I hang out with a few. I was always turned off from clicks since high school; also, I never liked the politics of being included in a scene with skateboarding. I enjoy the freedom of being myself and running into people, and catching up.


What do you mean by "politics"? Any examples? 

I'm not even sure that's the right word to describe it, but it seems there are rules to follow. I remember "gatekeepers" of the skate scene not liking me because I didn't give 'props', but in reality, I was just extremely shy. I just like doing my own thing; I don't want to belong to anything. Maybe it was from having to go to church as a kid; I just don't like the judging and gossip.

... possibly, haha. Tell us about the music scene in Montreal. Is it going in the right direction? What would you like to change? 

It's hard to tell since there hasn't been a show in over a year due to covid. I think Montreal is great though; the rent is cheap enough where you can spend more time focusing on music and having fun. I always enjoy shows here though, good times. 

You have worked with several different labels over the years. How come? 

That's just because I've been doing the DIY thing, just going album by album. I'm with a Canadian label for the first time, which has really been helpful, though. 

Excellent. What is your favorite album of the last few months? 

The album I've listened to the most the past few months is "Kurt Vile - Smoke Ring For My Halo". It just had its 10th anniversary, and I remember thinking he "sold out" when it came out. Looking back, I was just an idiot, it's a great album like all of his albums.


To conclude

Best tour memory? 

The food at the French festivals for sure, also meeting really nice people all over. 

One movie I should watch? 

The Fugitive. It was my favorite movie when I was a kid. 

GREAT one! How do you imagine your discography 20 years from now? 

I hope it's good and there's nothing I regret putting out. I hope to write songs people will want to cover in time. 

OK, last question: is “rock’n’roll dead”? 

No, it's not! All my friends play rock n roll, so... at least... in my world, it's the most popular thing!

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