April 2 2017 – One of the best #RealRock bands we saw a couple of years back was Return for Refund. We have not heard from them in a while so when we found out a new EP was being released and the guys would hit the road we immediately hit up Drew Clementino to find out what has been happening with the band. Check it out below, and by the way dont miss these guys live – Real Rock style!
What have you guys been up to lately? We haven’t heard from you in a while.
What’s up? The last time we were exposed to your readers was when you listed us among your top ten indie bands of 2015. That was really cool by the way. Around that time, we were going through a couple line-up changes. When all was said and done, we picked up drummer Alex Van Briggle who was formerly of the Rebel Hero and bassist Alexander Schwartz who was formerly of Old Major. The both of them really opened up our sound and it became apparent that we had to get in to studio to record as soon as possible.
So, after a couple of shows, we completely devoted our attention to preparing to record. After a grueling summer of preparation, we tracked the album in September and had it completely finished by December. From there we’ve been working towards the release and the tour we’re currently on (I’m writing while riding shotgun to our next gig tonight in Cornwall). We had an epic release show at the Bovine in Toronto on Mar 25th and we’re playing shows pretty steadily for the next 3 weeks until our CMW showcase on April 19th.
Tell us about the new EP.
We’re so incredibly proud of this CD. Like our first EP, we really wanted to capture an organic sound that was true to our live show. So, we got in touch with Michael Jack, who recorded our first EP, and booked 2 days at Phase One Studios in Toronto to track the record live off the floor. The idea of tracking six songs in two days was a bit nerve racking. A sore throat or swollen finger could have ruined the whole thing. But luckily, and due to months of playing the same six songs over and over again, we were able to nailed it.
I can say, without a doubt, that everyone involved completely destroyed their jobs over those two days. Most of what you hear on Lift You Up was accomplished on the second or third takes. It was really amazing to be in studio seeing how well everything came together.
The songs themselves are definitely on the darker side of the spectrum. I’m not a let’s get drunk and be stupid sort of songwriter. Most of the lyrics come from very difficult or dark places. Most times I have trouble talking about the things I sing about. That’s likely why I choose to sing about them instead. Nothing Left is a song about a really tough past breakup. Stay Awake is about my time in Canadian Army and My Gun narrates a recurring dream I have about wandering the wasteland after the apocalypse. In order to cope with these things, I’ve had to write songs about them.
In the end, the album is really about self-sacrifice and duty. The songs are about doing the hard things in life and living authentically. It’s a message I think we need to hear more of in music these days. How many love or party songs do we really need?
Where can people get it?
It’s currently available through most online retailers including iTunes and Amazon. You can grab it through our Bandcamp as well. It can be streamed on Spotify. We always have physical copies at our shows. If someone would like one sent out to them, they can email me directly at drew [at] returnforrefund [dot] com.
When we last interviewed you guys (http://tmakworld.com/2014/09/return-for-refund-emerging-artist-spotlight.html) you told us that the future of the music industry is live shows. Have you gotten tired of live shows yet?
That’s a funny question considering how I’m currently on route from one show to another. The answer is no. We’re not even close to being tired. We’re just starting to become the band that Sasha and I envisioned when we started RFR. I can honestly say there is nothing in my life that makes me happier than being on stage with the boys. I’m pretty sure the guys feel the same as well. The only complaint that I have at this point is that we aren’t playing more often, and we aren’t able to pay the bills doing it. But we’re working on that. I really hope that “Lift You Up” provides us with the opportunity to expand our touring range and frequency.
Have you noticed any changes in the live music scene in Toronto lately?
I may be biased but it seems like high energy, in your face rock music is making a big comeback in the scene. People are getting sick of hearing vocalists that just scream into the microphone on one end, and are bored of the pseudo-country, musically vacuous, indie rock that dominated the scene ten years ago. People want to have fun at shows. They want to see bands on stage that look like their loving life and want to hear songs that make their hearts beat and feet move.
Real rock has seemed to have taken a backseat in the last 20 years in terms of mainstream popularity, will it bounce back, and if so which are the bands you think will be the next generation to lead the charge?
There is definitely room for rock in the mainstream. However, it’s part of the general attitude of Rock to not really give a shit. Will it bounce back? I think it will. I think Rock has something to offer in terms of a musical diversity and dynamic range that few other genres can offer. However, there has been an overall lack of innovation in Rock over the past 20 years. I think that, if anything, has been responsible for the decline of new rock music in the mainstream. Why support a band that sounds like AC/DC when you can just listen to AC/DC. It seems like most rock has just become a parody of itself. I can’t say who will be next to lead the charge, but we’re definitely going to doing our best to be heard.
Any upcoming shows?
We have quite a few lined up for this tour. I’ll list them for you:
April 5th – The Asylum in Sudbury
April 6th – The New American in Sault Ste Marie
April 7th – The Apollo in Thunder Bay
April 8th – The Cavern in Winnipeg
April 13th – Doors Pub in Hamilton
April 14th – Dstrct in Guelph
April 15th – The Brownstone in Orillia
April 19th – The Hard Rock Cafe in Toronto for CMW
Best album of 2016?
Opeth – The Sorceress