WORDS BY : NATASHA WEST
Varsity is not standing down in the face of adversity. Releasing an album in the current world situation is brave, but it’s just what we need right now – more music. Fine Forever will be their third full-length (four if you include The Basement Takes which includes a run of singles) release in five years and they have no plans of slowing down. We chatted to the band ahead of their latest release about their writing process, their favourite songs off the new album and the first things they’re going to do once they are able to post lockdown.
We thought a lot about giving the music space to breathe, balance, giving these songs life instead of perfection and making sure lyrics and music were serving each other
The majority of the tracks on Fine Forever came to life through jamming on a “very small musical idea, maybe two or three chords, until we got a groove going” states guitarist Dylan Weschler. Each individual song has a different story to tell and that’s exactly how the band wants it to be. “We made this album in the spirit of collaborating, finding life in recorded music and accepting imperfection, having fun with each other and pushing ourselves as musicians” says vocalist and keyboardist Stef Smith. It’s apparent that songwriting and high quality musicianship have played a big part in this new album cycle for the band, within this new release you can expect to hear wider instrumentation and different time signatures. “We thought a lot about giving the music space to breathe, balance, giving these songs life instead of perfection and making sure lyrics and music were serving each other” says Smith who used to be a documentary filmmaker; which also plays a key role in their creative process. “I think looking at other people is just more interesting than writing about myself. But just like in filmmaking there is no such thing as pure observation and a part of yourself is always embedded in the final piece.”
When pushed as to what their favourite song on the album is, there are a couple of tracks that stand out in their feedback. Those being ‘Wrecking Line’ and ‘Sicko World’ (the final song on the album). ‘Wrecking Line’ is a particular favorite for drummer Jake Stolz: “I love the way it swells from part to part and learned a lot about recording drums from our producer Ben (Lumsdaine – Kevin Krauter, Steve Marino) during the making of this one.” ‘Sicko World’ took the band “a really long time to figure (this one) out” remembers bassist Paul Stolz “but we kept coming back to it because we knew that it had really good bones”, and we’re glad they did, because it’s a jam.
I can’t wait to see how the time apart alters our sound and pushes us when we are finally able to get back in the practice space together
As the album will be released during the pandemic, it has had a significant impact on how the entire process for the band will operate. Having band meetings on Zoom is just one way Varsity has adapted to the social situation as Weschler communicates, “sometimes I just want to get a beer without having to schedule a Zoom meeting” – and the frustration is totally understandable. What usually follows an album release is a hell of a lot of planning, press, touring etcetera (and repeat) which has now all been disrupted (for now), but it hasn’t stopped their drive or optimism for the future; and that’s admirable. As (P) Stolz puts it, “I can’t wait to see how the time apart alters our sound and pushes us when we are finally able to get back in the practice space together.”
Adjusting to a slightly different way of operating hasn’t slowed Varsity down and they have found new ways of communicating and keeping connected with their fanbase with the help of their label. As Smith reveals, “one of my favourite things we did was stream a show we did from a year ago on YouTube and hang out in the comments to chat with people watching. That point of connection with friends and fans from across the world made me feel confident that releasing this album right now can only be a good thing! The promise of playing these songs live one day also keeps us going because we really can’t wait to share them in that way.”
Varsity were supposed to be playing a summer tour along the West Coast in the US this summer. “We will get out there once it’s safe again and for the cities we have been to, we’re excited to get back. We love you all, xoxo.” There is also a possibility of a UK tour in 2021 so keep your fingers crossed for that! Varsity has proved that they are here to stay in a world full of uncertainty and they’re certainly going to come back with a bang so don’t take your eyes off the ball.
Fine Forever will be out on May 29th via Run For Cover Records