Music Profile | Jay Arner

As many bands out there would attest, going on tour is not the same as going on vacation. Between the all-night drives, waiting around a dingy club for soundcheck, grabbing a frozen convenience store burrito with your measly per diem, and the dizzying sense of deja vu as you take on this exact scenario the next day, it's hard to consider band trips very relaxing. Vancouver power pop prince Jay Arner knows this all too well. While he's taking in the life-affirming beauty of a BC mountainscape from within a tour van when ION catches him on the phone, he confesses to being more than ready to decompress at a hotel after a long day.

"We're going to sit in the hot tub if we get there on time," he says excitedly, despite explaining that the destination of Golden, BC, is still five hours away. "If we're booking a hotel we make a swimming pool and a hot tub a priority. Being on tour, there's just so many moving parts and logistics; you soak that all away at the end of the day."

Pressed a little bit further, though, it slips out that he and his backup band-- keyboardist Jessica Delisle, bassist Adrienne LaBelle, and drummer Adam Fink--have actually only been on the road for a few hours. The day's trip to Golden is merely breaking up the drive between Vancouver and the trek's first show in Edmonton the next night. Arner argues that booking the dates by himself had been stressful, but eventually notes that there's more to his tiredness than the grind of road life.

"I've had three cups of coffee and I have a hangover, for context. We went to an 80s night last night as a band, just getting amped up for tour," the songwriter explains with a laugh. "We had a 12 pack of Hey Y'Alls, the hard iced tea. We drank those and we fucking went to 80s night. We danced all night, for real."

Primed to have modern day music fans moving is Arner's recently released sophomore collection, II. Though technically the follow up to his 2013 self-titled debut, the release also follows Arner and Delisle's brief sojourn as Energy Slime, which crammed 10 micro-sized oddities onto a 7-inch in 2014. While II's "Crystal Ball" twitches with nervous, skinny tie panache, most of Arner's II is filled with easy-breeze, hip-swaying soft pop.

The songwriter notes of the differences in each act's approach: "Energy Slime songs are usually written late at night, extremely fast, and sometimes drunk. The 'real band' songs, I take them a lot more seriously."

This admission could be taken with a grain of salt, considering the record's "Like a Dracula" is stained with Britney Spears shout-outs and lines about wine-soaked days,  but II truthfully does have its sobering moments. While relaxing as a two-Paxil daydream, the messages in "Earth to Jay" and "World of Suffering" are sternly-worded wake up calls that suggest Arner might have it a bit too easy.

"It's trying to be self-aware, that my problems don't matter in a larger context," the bandleader tells Ion matter-of-factly. "Really petty shit, like, 'how come we're playing at 3 and not at 4 on this bill?' Things like that cross my mind, but they're so petty that they evaporate. Why am I even thinking about that?"

Despite these dips into existential humility, Arner's still okay to get silly with his solo work. "Personal Line," for instance, transforms his actual phone number of 778-240-4529 into one hell of a goofy New Wave jingle. Written on the fly, it's been potent enough to hook in a few random callers, some more concerning than others.

"A few weird people have phoned me, so I'm a little hesitant to pick up the phone now," Arner notes, reporting that one crank caller's conversation consisted solely of "a very menacing 'Yo.'"

 

Though the songwriter is a little more guarded about answering his cell phone at the moment, he's still fully imploring people to shoot him a text. It's no doubt easier to deliver a message this way than dialing his digits. The guy would probably be in the hot tub when you called anyways.

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