Interview with Graydon James of The Young Novelists

by Francine Lapointe, Urban Hero Magazine

At the time of this interview, The Young Novelists were on the last leg of their latest US tour.  They will be playing at Homegrown in Hamilton on Friday May 1st.  Modern troubadours addicted to touring, their music is unique and is a reminiscence of the 60s with a fresh Indie twang.  As folk rock goes, this is something blue, something borrowed and something new.

Urban Hero Magazine:  How is the tour?

Graydon:  It’s been a pretty good tour.  We have our last two shows in the States and then we’ll be back in Toronto for a little bit and we’ll travel to a few places around Toronto like Hamilton, London and so forth.  We’ll also go to the East Coast and back…  It’s pretty good!

UHM:  So how long have you been on the road?

Graydon:  We left on the 7th, a Tuesday and we were in East Virginia, South Carolina, North Carolina, around the DC area and New York.  We were in Boston last night and then tonight we’re in New Hampshire and then there’s Vermont.

UHM:  What has prompted you to go South?

Graydon:  This is technically our fourth time touring the States and this will be our second time touring on the East Coast.  There are a couple of folk conferences that we attended.  We made a bunch of connections with people and just made plans to come down.  The population is just kind of crazy down here.  You know, you can drive two hours and there’s a new big city. So you don’t have to do much driving to get to a lot population.

UHM:  How has your show been received so far?

Graydon:  Pretty well, I think.  I hope people are not just being kind to us but they seem to be appreciative of what we’re doing.  This tour is a first for us; we’re travelling with our four year old son and my mom.  Like a family band kind of tour…

UHM:  With the kind of music you play, travelling as a family seems fitting!

Graydon:  Yeah, for sure and it seems that it’s something that people really appreciate.  It seems to connect with people; they generally like families.  It’s a cool connection and to be travelling with your family as you’re doing the kind of thing that you want to do is quite amazing!  We’re very fortunate.

UHM:  When did you start up as a band?

Graydon:  We started touring in August 2009.  I had released a triple album by myself and wanted to do a tour for that album.  I realized I should have a band so I put the band together from people I had played with in other bands.

UHM:  You are soon to release a new album “made us strangers”?

Graydon:  This is The Young Novelist’s second studio album and our fourth release.  We first had an EP and then a live album and then a studio album.  It’s been a lot of time in the works but we’re pretty happy to have it done.

UHM:  What would you say is at the core of your writing?

Graydon:  I take a lot of the experiences that I have had and put them in the songs .  I grew up in a small town, so I put a lot of small town kind of feelings.  II spent a long time with family and in relationships too.  Relationships of all kinds: with friends, love relationships or family relationships…    I also read a lot about this.  Even hearing stories from friends about their own relationships… I end up writing about all that and it becomes an interesting thing.

UHM:  You are playing in Hamilton on May 1st at Homegrown.   Have you ever played in Hamilton or will that be the first time?

Graydon:  This is our fifth or sixth time playing in Hamilton but it’s our first time playing at Homegrown, so we’re pretty excited to be at such a great venue!

UHM:  It’s a very nice place and it’s very much about people.  What are your plans after your tour is over?  Are you taking a hiatus?

Graydon:  You’d think we’d be taking a bit of a break but pretty much through the Summer we’re playing every weekend.  In the Fall, we’ll be taking another American tour and then hopefully a European tour.  We’re booking that at the moment.  We’ll see how that works out.  It will be our first time going to Europe.  That’s an expensive venture  but we’re kind of trying to spread the music as far as we can.  We’ll see how that goes.

UHM:  You’re very busy!

Graydon:  We’re trying to keep busy as much as we can and we’re gonna do it until we can’t do it anymore.

UHM:  Is touring with your family making it easier to replenish and have a less hectic lifestyle?

Graydon:  Touring can be gruesome and can take a lot of your energy and of your resources.

UHM:  Are you planning to take the family again into your next US tour?

Graydon:  I think the plan is to take our family into the next US tour and the European tour as well.

UHM:  How would you define your music beyond the obvious folk rock label?

Graydon:  I often describe it as a Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young meets Wilco if that makes any sense?  So, a lot of harmonies but also a lot of precise arrangements.

UHM: What was the first instrument you ever played?

Graydon:  My first instrument was the drums.  My dad played the drums and we had a drum kit at our house.  Try to keep a kid away from a drum kit if it’s available!

UHM:  You then moved to guitar?

Graydon:  I did.  I was in University and I was pretty bored so I decided to learn guitar.  At that time I also took a piano lesson.  I like piano but the piano lesson was more of a how to read music lesson…   I didn’t like that so much, so I tried to pick up the piano on my own.    I play piano now a little bit and I play guitar.  Drums are really my first passion!

UHM:  So you still play the drums?

Graydon:  I do in a couple other bands.

UHM:  What are your long term goals with your music?

Graydon:   It would be lovely to just tour constantly.  It’s a tough lifestyle in a certain sense but it’s also really quite amazing to meet people.  They come to hear your music and they don’t necessarily know who you are.  You get to meet them and they get to meet you so you’re increasing your friends.  You end up having really good friends all around!  We have some really good friends in New York City, for example.  We go to New York City, stay with some friends and play a show.  It’s quite a beautiful thing; your friendship base just keeps on growing and growing!

May you continue to grow your friendships through your music and your family!


For more on The Young Novelists:

Francine Lapointe is the Editor and Co-Founder of Urban Hero Magazine.  She studied Philosophy and is an Associate of the Ontario College of Art (now known as OCAD) in Toronto.  Francine is also a jewellery designer.
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