Vital Vinyl: Your Favorite Enemies’ Jeff Beaulieu Discusses the Music Industry + Touring
First coming together in 2006, Canada's Your Favorite Enemies seem to be in constant celebration mode lately. If they're not commemorating the release of their latest effort, Between Illness and Migration -- which was nominated in this year's JUNO Awards for Rock Album of the Year -- they're putting together a special EP to give away to fans who come to their live shows.
Simply put: These rockers treat their fans the same way they want to be treated by their favorite bands.
Your Favorite Enemies recently wrapped up a fast and extensive tour of the states, during which guitarist Jeff Beaulieu spared a few minutes to chat with us about his love for vinyl, the differences he sees in Canada's music industry vs. America's, and what 2015 -- an already packed year -- has in store for the band. Check out our exclusive interview below:
How does it feel to be back in the states?
The funny thing with our career so far is that we've been spending I don't know how many weeks and months in Europe and Asia! It makes it even more exciting to be here in America, as we've been waiting for so long before touring this country properly. Every night is so different! In a positive way, we have felt home so many times. It sucks this tour doesn't have many days off -- I would have loved to have more time in some of the cities we played in, especially since I'm a huge baseball fan.
Do you find a difference in your fans in the U.S. than in Canada?
Every country is so different and in so many ways. Especially huge countries, such as Canada and America, where every state and province could be a country in itself. I love that because it brings you, as an artist, to always redefine yourself every night, and let the crowd, and the music, define the vibe and spirit. We're not the kind of band that goes on stage to play the same set and same songs the same way every night. Also, the cool thing with our fans is that they are so diverse in style, age, backgrounds … it's far from being this “we all look the same” kind of people in our shows, which creates such energetic and most of the time, unexpected moments that are pretty rich and defining. You don't need Instagram to feel alive.
Congrats on Between Illness and Migration and the tour-specific EP, A Vision of the Lights We're In. Why did you decide to give away an EP to concertgoers?
For us, music is sacred, especially the experience that comes with it. We like to let the crowd take the lead as we're on stage, which means we've been able to reach some sort of communion, and this is never easy to attain when you open up for a band like Trail of Dead; their fans know what a great show sounds like. We asked ourselves what would be the best way for people who have just discovered us and shared a magical moment with us to end this night. We like to treat music fans the way we would have loved to be treated as well -- and giving away a piece of who we are, of what we shared, truly is the extension of who we are and how much we cherish those precious moments.
It might sound a little cheesy but Sef [lead guitarist] just told me we're doing that because there's too much s---ty music out there and it's some kind of "save the music" type of propaganda! Hmmm ... not sure about this one!
With that specific EP, you pressed it on vinyl ... but just one copy, right? What's the story behind that?
We're the type of band to buy an ancient Catholic church and transform it into a professional recording studio, a merchandising printing company, as well as a live venue. So this DIY spirit and ethos brought us to build a little vinyl pressing space as well. We're huge fans of vinyl and we've always dreamed of being able to print our own, so we're now on the verge of doing so. It's a lot of work and a lot of details to learn, as it's a science in itself, but I think it's pretty cool for us to be able to print our own merch and vinyl. Stay tuned, as there will be many more to come, knowing the crazy creative minds that live in this band!
So how important is vinyl to you as a band?
The relationship people have with music keeps evolving in every decade, but for me and for us in the band, music is simply sacred. It saved my life so many times. It's not only a file, a data or a playlist; it's who I am, what I'm going through, what I'd love to see, share and become. It's all I don't have the guts to say or live sometimes. Music gathers, heals and touches you in this very personal area that nothing else has access to. Holding a vinyl record is like holding a map to numerous journeys, depending on where you're at in your life. The artwork is like a canvas, the music is not compressed, it makes you feel as if you were in the studio while the artists were recording. Also, when you put a record on, it's automatically a moment where you can't press pause or change songs as quickly or easily as you could on an electronic device. It's always special, and it brings music to where it's meant to be in the first place.
Why do you think vinyl has enjoyed a resurgence of sorts in the last seven or eight years?
There are two things to that, the first being that true music lovers got to hate that easy access to music and the tragic sound of an MP3, and went back to the source, when music meant something to the masses. For those who may not know, when you buy a vinyl, they give you the MP3 version of the album as well, so you can always bring your music with you on whatever device, cloud or streaming service you use. It’s only when you come back to your music place at home that you can create a moment of eternity! The second reason to that resurgence would be because it's just cool and trendy. This is the motto of this era; “Don't be, just look and act like it.” It's way easier! And now, with the social media madness we're all stuck in, it just makes it easier for all the low-lifes to take over. But that won't last. Trends come and go as seasons do. I've seen many cassettes coming back also ... We're crazy DIY, but cassettes?! Maybe not! Maybe cassettes would help bring the HB pencils back, though.
What's your view on the American music industry? How different are things in Canada?
America is a much bigger market than Canada where the mentality regarding the industry is very different, as much as is the approach. In Canada, people are afraid of competition, and we have access to government money based on how many albums you sell, which is something you don't have in America. With our DIY entrepreneurship, we don't really fit in this Canadian eco-system built by a very few for a very few, where all the others have to wait in line. Also, we have this local but global approach on things, where we like to work with local partners in different markets and countries such as Japan, Australia, the U.K., Germany, France and even China. But in America, people will ask you for the world to an extent where it can become a deal breaker sometimes. I think competition allows more room for creativity and gives you the freedom of operating based on your own values, vision and dreams. For us, the respect or our art, community values and human rights defending aspects all go together and are reflected in our business approach.
What's on the horizon for you guys for the rest of 2015?
Since it started, 2015 has been one of the busiest years ever! We did shows in Canada, we had the JUNO Awards ceremony where we were Rock Album of the Year nominees, and now we wrapped up this U.S. tour, which was 19 shows in 21 days! Pretty intense, especially with the kind of shows we do. We'll spend a part of the summer doing Canadian festivals and we're now receiving offers for Australia in August and Asia in September, so I guess it won't stop. I'm hoping we'll be back here this fall touring our album release, as I love this country so much. I'm actually looking to buy a house or something!