GENRE IS DEAD! Interview With Charlotte Dempsey of Lonely Parade

Montreal based rock band Lonely Parade isn’t afraid to talk about the melancholy and frustration that comes with everyday life. They tackle issues like unrequited love, shitty roommates, and fleeting crushes with tongue in cheek humor and biting wit. The trio of Augusta Veno (guitarist), Charlotte Dempsey (bassist), and Anwyn Climenhage (drummer) grew up together in Peterborough, Ontario curing small town boredom with jam sessions. After releasing their debut album Sheer Luxury in 2014, they gained international acclaim with 2016’s No Shade. After years of releasing music on their own, the band signed with Buzz Records in 2017. With their label debut, The Pits on the way, the band is ready to take North America by storm. Singer/bassist Charlotte Dempsey chats with GID about the new album, working with Buzz Records, and trying American fast food.

GID: You guys grew up in Peterborough, Ontario, met when you were in your teens, and formed a band. I understand Peterborough is a pretty small town, one of those places where everyone knows each other. So, what’s life like there?

Charlotte Dempsey: Life in Peterborough became too claustrophobic and we all recently jumped ship to other cities, like Montréal and Sudbury. The smallness of it helped propel us forward in the early days and made us a lot of friends and connections. There is a surprising amount of good music and art going on in Peterborough, so I imagine our experience was a little different than most small town experiences.

GID: You guys recently signed with Buzz Records. Signing with a label is pretty huge, especially after being independent for so long. What prompted the move to Buzz and were there any reservations when it came to this decision?

CD: We’re obviously thrilled to be working with Buzz [Records]. I think I made a Tumblr post in 2015 that said: “I have the biggest crush on buzz records.” Their roster is full of bands that influenced us when we started getting into the local Ontario scene. We pretty much decided we’d reached our maximum capacity as an independent band. We’d already self-released two albums and an EP making it all up as we went along. Our friends in Casper Skulls, also on Buzz, hyped us up [on the label] and we signed late last year. There wasn’t really any hesitation; Buzz has always been our dream label. It just took a while to get the ball rolling because we were very meticulous about everything.

GID: Sounds very cool! Congrats on the signing! The Pits, your Buzz Records debut, drops in September. Can you tell me a bit about the album and what inspired the songs this time around?

CD: The Pits is the most personal record we’ve written to date. It’s centered around a lot of events that took place in 2016: our apartment, our friends, and romantic partners at the time. It’s kind of a heartbreak album in a confused and backwards way. The songs were written while falling in love, falling out of it, and trapped in it.

GID: It sounds pretty intense, but also sounds like it’ll reach listeners on a relatable level. Since it’s your first album released on a label, was it more of a challenge to make than past records?

CD: We wrote most of the songs before we even signed to Buzz, so we knew they liked the direction we were going with this one. We were lucky to work with the dream team of Josh Korody and Shehzaad Jiwani, who had worked on some of our favorite previous Buzz releases by Fake Palms, Casper Skulls, The Beverlys. Shehzaad’s band Greys is also on Buzz. We all had similar intentions, so the whole thing felt very cohesive and natural.

GID: So, as you mentioned before The Pits comes from a personal place and it covers things like crappy roommates, crushes, and bad dating experiences. Was there a song that was particularly difficult to write?

CD: The hardest song in my memory was actually “Not Nice.” We wrote it a week before we went into the studio, and the subject matter in that one was so fresh I was worried I was actually just being a petty and irrational jerk. [Ed. Note: the song was inspired by a boy who called Dempsey mean on Tinder]. But in the end, I’m glad I wrote it. This one’s a little more driven, we call it our “pop punk” song, and it was under rehearsed when we recorded it, but it’s cool to see it evolve and take on a more aggressive tone live.

GID: You guys are headed out on tour soon and it’ll be your first trip to the United States. What are you most looking forward to about your trip to the states? Being from Chicago, I have to urge you to try some deep dish pizza.

CD: We’re looking forward to American fast food, mainly Taco Bell and McDonald’s and Trader Joe’s. Definitely getting tired of Canadian road snacks. We’re hoping to sneak a peek at the Robie House [in Chicago], I went once when I was younger, and we’ve definitely got deep dish on the brain. Mostly just excited to see all these cities as an adult!

GID: Looking back, Lonely Parade started back in 2011 when you all were pretty young. You’ve released two albums, an EP, and you have another album on the way. Plus, you’ve played various festivals including the Iceland Airwaves Music Festival. There’s been a lot going over the past few years. How do you take it all in?

CD: It feels very gradual because there’s been so much mundane stuff in between. I don’t know if I am usually able to process some of the festivals and tours until we get home when I’m able to see it as a whole experience. There’s something really special though about hearing your phone go off on the day of your single release while you’re at work, cutting green onions or something.

GID: That’s got to be a nice pick-me-up from the daily grind! Now, your 2016 album No Shade got a lot of attention and fans on an international level and you all were still in high school. What was it like achieving that level of success while still in your teens? 

CD: It definitely gave me an inflated sense of ego. I thought it was pretty cool to spend a Tuesday night in a bar playing punk music with a bunch of adults and going to school the next morning sleep deprived. I dropped out of high school after the 10th grade but Ani stuck it out through grade 12 (we’re the same age). It was nice to have a built-in community of friends our own age who would come out and support us throughout the years. Mostly it was just a hassle being so young and wanting to do big things. We always had to ask people to drive us to shows, to band practice, and we got thrown out of a few venues for being underage. A lot of our friends weren’t allowed to come to shows on school nights.

GID: That had to be a bummer trying to find places that wouldn’t throw you out and a place where friends could come see your shows. Speaking of age, when the band first started, you felt you wouldn’t be taken seriously because of how young you were and you pushed yourselves by making very technical music. Are you still worried you won’t be taken seriously because of your age? 

CD: I don’t think the age factor is as strong as it used to be. We’re more assertive than we used to be and have learned how to play shows so it comes across as being more mature, maybe? I do worry though, sometimes. We work just as hard as anybody else and I know a lot of young bands who gain success early just come from money and have connections, so I don’t wanna be written off as trust fund babies. We all work in kitchens.

GID: It’s clear Lonely Parade have worked hard to get where you are now, especially doing things independently. You guys are still at it eight years later with your Buzz Records debut on the way. What have you learned over the years from being in a band and making music?

CD: I think a lot of the things we’ve learned have been subconscious.  Years of practicing and jamming and writing music have naturally brought us to this sound and it feels right. We’ve most certainly learned to get along with each other better and how to coexist in such close quarters on tour. Biggest thing overall is probably just communication!

Lonely Parade’s new album, The Pits, drops September 14 via Buzz Records. Pre-order your copy here and check out the singles “Night Cruise” and “I’m So Tired.” The band recently kicked off their North American tour in Ottawa, ON. They’ll play around the states before concluding the trek in Toronto, ON July 31. Check out all the dates here.

Ashley Perez Hollingsworth

Ashley Perez is a freelance music journalist based in Chicago. Her work has appeared on AXS, The Crypt 1331, Chicago Innerview, New City, The Millions, and Reality-Comics. She also runs her own music blog at Radio Not Found. Some of her favorite bands include Nirvana, The Cure, Muse, Marilyn Manson, and Green Day.

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