Some two years ago Jaunt was being lauded as one of the buzz bands in Ontario by the national underground media but their long roots in indie rock confirmed they weren’t an overnight sensation. In fact, the band included members of Hamilton’s New Hands, Burlington’s Sandman Viper Command and Oshawa’s Viva Mars and while they didn’t sound like any of their other bands, people were taking note for the band’s inventive electronic fused experimental pop that some called on the cutting edge of yacht rock.
It’s been nearly two years but this year, Jaunt promises their long awaited full length debut with a new song to commit to that. With a new single to start the New Year, Jaunt’s warbled new track blends contemporary and classic influences like Tame Impala taking on Harry Nilsson is a pre–cursor from the new album set for release later this year. Their local return for the first time in a year marks a collective of sorts and a semi–reunion for New Hand’s Pat O’Brien and vocalist Spencer Newell with their new outfits as well as a local, Dan Edmonds, that seems to be ripping from a similar songbook with his latest effort.
“Jaunt started while I was still in Hamilton and New Hands had its day, that band was over but I’d been a fan of singer and guitarist Thomas Helliwell and we were starting to make music but without an official band really,” recalls Jaunt guitarist Pat O’'Brien. “I’d actually been talking with Brodie [Schwendiman] and we decided to book a show so we kind of had to decide we were in a band for that show. The name came from my father, who has a way with words and he remarked about me going to visit one of my friends in the neighborhood one day. He said that I was going on a short jaunt and that kind of stuck with me and it seemed appropriate for the band name.
O’Brien and Helliwell would settle in Toronto and enlist former Sandman Viper Command’s Daniel Reardon on keyboards as well as Duncan Hood on drums, Nick Nausbaum on bass and latest official addition Caitlin Woelfle O’Brien on vocals. With two EPs available on the band’s bandcamp.com website, a long sold out cassette release and 7–inch have been released but the band has been performing on the strength of their internet presence. A new single has recently been released as a pre-cursor to the new long awaited full-length album.
Influences from Steely Dan, Michael McDonald, Christopher Cross and other bands perhaps more associated with people listening to it on yachts in the ’70s or ’80s is where this musical term gets its origins as of late. Twenty somethings are finding their own influences regardless of any cool factor and right now, those influences are hot in particular circles. And while O’Brien and company won’t deny an influence, there is a lot more going on with Jaunt.
“When we came together as a band, there weren’t any rules or ideas for the music we wanted to create,” says O’Brien. “We were open to just going for it. There are things that we’re pretty passionate about musically and we had similar through lines to the music we liked so it had a natural sound but we didn’t aspire to be any particular genre or box ourselves into any one idea. As a band, all the members have a lot of different influences and they get filtered through a lot of different lenses and it ends up what it is.
“We take it seriously but we make music we enjoy and hopefully that comes through in the music,” adds O’Brien. “Because we’re independent, we have a lot of control in the creative vision and that is what fuels the music. There are reviews that have called us yacht–rock or yacht–folk and more but while we’ve had a lot of media attention, it’s nice but it’s not what we’re thinking about when we’re making the music. Our music grows when we play it live more as well — the music can get loud but it is what you might call relaxing. It’s not really yacht rock but I can say we do like a lot of yacht rock so it’s not totally wrong.”
The band does like to play but O’Brien admits that over the last two years live shows haven’t been plentiful. While the band hasn’t played O’Brien’s old hometown in some time, they return this weekend for a special showcase with some old friends while they are in the midst of a novel tour.
“It’s not that we don’t like to tour, but maybe we’re more selective with the shows that we play,” says O’Brien. “I’m a huge fan of the Dirty Nil but they are touring so much everywhere and I don’t think that I could handle that. For us, we’re more selective with shows where we know that people are kind of already interested in the music. With that being said, we do have a pretty extensive tour planned for later this year. Maybe I’ll end up loving it and become a road hog.
“I’m really excited to play this show in Hamilton and we chose Dan and Spence to play because we’re such big fans of them and their music,” adds O’Brien. “I am such a fan of Dan and his new album Softie and we’re doing several shows across Ontario with him in Ottawa and Toronto. And Spence has a new band Essen so it’s great he’s doing his own thing working with Scott Orr producing his stuff. I’m happy for the guy and I’m liking what he’s doing so it’s great we can have two former New Hands guys on this show. We’ve got a new song to showcase but we’ve got a full show and I think overall, people should come out for all three acts. For our show, I think it’s pretty accessible music but I don’t think we’re going to bore you. It’s quirky easy listening — you might think it’s a little weird, you might also love that, ultimately it won’t be too hard on your ears. It’ll be a swift night with lots of great music and anyone and everyone should come out.”
Jaunt plays this Saturday February 1 at the Rock on Locke otherwise known as Church of St. John the Evangelist (320 Charlton Ave W) with Dan Edmonds and Essen opening. Doors are at 7:30 pm and tickets are available via eventbrite.com for $15 or if available at the door for $17. Click on thebandjaunt.com