A Back Alley Interview With The Lipstick Junkies

If you had asked me a week ago which genres of music are currently thriving in Toronto, I doubt funk/indie would have been on my top-ten list. Well, that just shows you how much I know because one of the best and most entertaining funk/indie bands around is a home-grown band called The Lipstick Junkies. The Ontario three-piece that has recently been joined by a fourth member (Hayden) is a modern funk/indie band that combines influences ranging from The Red Hot Chili Peppers to Jimi Hendrix and the 70’s era disco & funk movement.  With a sound that has been aptly described as “a party in your bedroom and everyone’s invited”, it’s not an overstatement to say that The Lipstick Junkies are surely one of the freshest, funkiest, most grooving bands in Toronto right now.

The Lipstick Junkies. From left to right, Brian (bass, vocals), Greg (guitar, vocals), Hayden (guitar, vocals), JR (drums, vocals)

The Lipstick Junkies. From left to right, Brian (bass, vocals), Greg (guitar, vocals), Hayden (guitar, vocals), JR (drums, vocals)

Even a bold declaration like “If you can’t feel the funk when you hear The Lipstick Junkies, you are dead” isn’t much of an exaggeration as demonstrated on Friday, March 18 when they played a sold-out show at the Cameron House. In the immortal words of King Kendrick “By the time you hear the next pop, the funk shall be within you” and that it certainly was. I doubt there was a single still body in the whole venue as the Lipstick Junkies rocked and grooved through their set list with the ease of a band that not only knows what they are doing but also enjoys every moment of it.

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I got a chance to interview them before it all went down on Friday.

NU- How did you come up with the name The Lipstick Junkies?

Brian– Originally we were called KillRoy. We used to be a six piece but a bunch of members have left. So we thought, time to reinvent ourselves; we are a new band. We tried out a bunch of names at the start. Then I was listening to our favourite band Red Hot Chili Peppers and one of their songs off their last record, Advenutes of Rain Dance Maggie starts with “Lipstick Junkies.” So I said hey guys, what about lipstick junkies?

Greg– We were searching for a name that we didn’t hate. We didn’t hate it so we stuck with it.

 

NU- What are some of your earliest musical memories?

Brian– The first time I wanted to be a bass player I remember I was listening to Usher Confessions. I remember all the people dancing and I was like that bass is fucking fierce. That gets the ladies.

JR– My parents played Reggae and Gospel, I come from a Christian family. Then I started listening to Red Hot Chili Peppers; Death From Above 1979; drums on that are fucking dope. So I started playing drums from then. I started jamming in Grade 9. My dad is also a drummer but we play two different styles. He plays Reggae and Soca and I play funk, rock and Pop.

Greg– My parents are both into music. Apparently my mom plays piano; she got her degree in music. Around 6th or 7th grade, I got into the Chili Peppers, punk rock and especially R&B. Confessions was a bonding moment for me and Brian.

Hayden– My dad had a really big record collection and I remember flicking through his vinyl collection. All kinds of records, The Beatles, Fleetwood Mac, and the Eagles. I love the eagles till this day. Every time I listen to it I know every solo, note for note. It is a damn good record.

 

NU- What are some of your musical inspirations?

Greg– We’ve obviously mentioned the Red Hot Chili Peppers; that really united us all. But a lot of the times we look for what makes for a good song fundamentally: what makes a good band fundamentally. Style of music and genre is just dressing on top of that. We’re interested in figuring out the metanarrative of the art that we make.

Brian– For example, me and Greg today were packing up our stuff and we were listening to So Yesterday by Hillary duff, it’s a great song [laughter]

Greg– Hillary duff as an artist is whatever; her target demographic doesn’t matter to us. It’s about the quality of the song.

Hayden– We wanna produce the best song possible. We all come from different places so all of our influences come in and join together. I think we compliment each other very well in that regard. In the end it’s about producing a really high-quality song. Something that the listeners could listen to and say, “Wow, I really enjoyed that.” You could be the best musician in the world, but if people don’t enjoy your music, what’s the point?

NU- You guys also do a lot of live shows. What’s your favorite part about doing live shows?

Greg– The main thing is interacting with other people and seeing people enjoy your music. That’s the most important thing because otherwise it’s just me practising. You get the instantaneous live feedback of everything you’ve worked so hard on. And at the end of the day, I play music because I love music. There’s something about music that makes me feel differently and to be able to see my music doing that for other people is the only reason I decided to do music in the first place.

Hayden– The best live shows for us are the ones where the crowd is really into it. When they’re into it, it’s great for us. We kind of feed off each other and it’s a very reciprocal relationship.

 

NU- What is your favorite song to perform live?

JR– Right now, as it stands it’s the song called “Everything”. One because I’ve actually started singing and practicing. Greg has taught me a lot. And secondly because it’s a New age version of our older songs.

Brian– Me and Greg agree on this so I’ll speak for him too. Our favorite song is the next one. When you write a new song, you’re super excited to play it. We’re playing a new song tonight that we’ve never played before. It could be a train wreck, it probably will be but we are excited to play it.

Greg– We always think, “let’s do this new song”. It might not be ready but that’s the most fun. The other ones you’ve gotten a response from. But with the new song, you’re really nervous and you finally get to share it with people.

Hayden– There’s a new song on the new EP we released called Motown Prince. For me, I just love the vibe of it.

 

NU- I’ve been watching your Security cam videos; how did that come about?

Brian– What we originally wanted to do was a multi-cam action video and we sucked at it. Basically we just set up a go-pro in our jam room. That’s where we jam.

Greg– We basically thought, how is the best way to do this? We can’t make cuts and we’re not good at editing. How can we dress it up to make it viable? Cause if it’s just one camera. How about a secret security camera thing so that it makes sense that it’s just one camera? So it was kind of born out of necessity and our limitations. We are not afraid to make ourselves look bad.

Brian– That’s what we do best.

 

 

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NU- Without music I would be ______?

Brian– Dead

JR– A kinesiologist

Greg– Dead as well

Hayden– In Australia.

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