Sixty Seconds on Songwriting with Rare Americans

Ask any pop punk fan what attracts them to a band and they’ll tell you two things: a DIY ethos and fans-first attitude. These are the two pillars upon which Rare Americans have built their boundary-pushing pop punk. Having released a handful of singles and videos from their forthcoming self-titled album, the Vancouver-based band have proved their vitality as pop punk pioneers and socio-political commentators. We catch up with front man James Priestner to find out more…

What’s the band’s origin story?

Lubo and I played in a band together called The Lunas which was similar to bands like Arctic Monkeys. My brother Jared and I took a trip a year ago to Bequia in the Caribbean and I brought my guitar. I joked that we should write a song, and sure enough we came back with 15. Over the course of the next couple months we wrote another 20. 

What’s the secret behind your pioneering pop punk sound?

I guess it’s multiple influences coming together. James loves bands like Modest Mouse, Arctic Monkeys, and The Strokes. Jared is a punk rocker listening to bands like Bad Religion, Pennywise, and Rancid. Lubo’s favourite bands are Dream Theatre and Steven Wilson. We all share a love of hip hop! 

Tell us about the roll call of guests you enlisted to help on the album.

We hired producer Joe Chiccarelli (White Stripes, The Strokes, Raconteurs, Arkells). On drums we had Joe Plummer (Modest Mouse, Cold War Kids, The Shins) and on bass we had Yuuki Matthews (The Shins). We also have a bunch of gang vocals in our music which was any friends that were available to help out on the day!

You’ve been releasing a new track with a music video every week, what’s the story behind that strategy?

I own a small production company here in Vancouver called Limited Company, so all the music videos were done in-house. For ‘Cats, Dogs, & Rats’ we hired an animator from Brooklyn named Harry Tietelman who did Killer Mike (of Run The Jewels) video for ‘Reagan’. He also drew all of our artwork and album cover. ‘Balmoral Hotel’ features Grace Dove who played Leonardo DiCaprio’s wife in The Revenant. ‘I vs I’ features Kai Kennedy who played Finn Wolfhard’s (from Stranger Things) bandmate in PUPS music videos for Sleep in The Heat and Guilt Trip.


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