2009 is shaping up to be an excellent year for the guys in Janus. Their newest release, Red Right Return, is set to be released on September 22nd and they will be heading out on tour the middle of this month with the likes of Chevelle and The Veer Union. I was able to catch up with vocalist David Scotney and speak with him about the writing process for their CD, Red Right Return.
Now that your brand new CD Red Right Return is complete, how do you feel about it? Are you satisfied with the outcome?
David: We could not be happier with the whole package. From the songwriting to the production to the look of the campaign behind it. We had a vision before we began and it’s amazing to see it all come together.
What was the writing process like for this CD? Did you guys all write together? How long did it take?
David: Our process usually starts with our guitar player, Mike (Tyranski), bringing a guitar part or parts to the table and we just jam on them and each of us sort of make our own parts up on the spot. I will work on melodies and even lyric phrases off the top of my head. We usually track a demo either together or Mike will on his own and I will then take that and spend time crafting lyrics and melodies to it. I actually do most of that writing in my car, when I’m driving. Almost the whole record was written while I was driving. The process took a bit longer than I think with most bands, because we were very democratic about the process. I would write and sometimes rewrite vocal melodies and lyrics 20-30 times if someone or everyone wasn’t happy with a line or a note. This was amazing because anytime anyone challenged anyone, the song always got stronger in the end.
What can fans expect when they pick up a copy of Red Right Return?
David: I think people who spend a little time with the record, the lyrics, the artwork and our online world will begin to understand and hopefully appreciate that there’s meaning behind almost everything we do. From the artwork to the songs, there’s a point and purpose that’s both open to interpretation and delivers a message at times.
The songs on your new record are not exactly what you would find on your typical hard music album. You offer a welcome range of musical sounds and abilities. Do you think this is due in part to your varied influences and/or a desire to explore new realms of music?
David: I do think that’s part of it. I think specifically it comes from a need to not sound like anything we have heard. If anyone brought a part or melody to the table that reminded us of another band it was trashed. I also think we embrace technology in the songwriting process in a way that helped shape the record. We have instant access to all sorts of instruments and tones thanks to how exponential technology is evolving. So it was almost everything and the kitchen sink we’d grab for if the song or part needed it at that time.
Your lyrics are infused with heavy detail and raw emotion. What is it that normally gives you inspiration when writing lyrics and is there a theme or themes behind the writing of this record?
David: Thanks! It is never the same actually. Sometimes it starts with a concept other times a song will start with a particular event or experience, either personal or one I am inspired by. There are several songs about trust on this record and several about reaching out to someone who’s lost their way, either with substance abuse or with some sort of misguidance.
Are there any songs on this CD that are personal favorites or that have good stories behind them?
David: “Eyesore,” the single, is still one of my favorites. It really captures the whole concept of the record. The idea of us staying focused on being as honest with our music and art as possible.
What song off of this album is the most exciting for you to sing live?
David: I have favorite parts of songs I like to sing live I think more so than any one song. I love singing the bridge in “Strangers,” I like singing the pre-choruses and choruses of “Your Arms.” The screams in “Eyesore” are a lot of fun, too.
What is the toughest lesson you ever learned in the studio and on the stage?
David: The toughest lesson I’ve learned is to respect each other. It’s easy to get so comfortable with three guys when you’re around them all the time, working hard on making the best record you can, that you start to take them for granted and even worse, cross boundaries and lines of respect. We had a lot of late night, tough discussions, but I think in general we learned where the boundaries are between us all and healthy ways to work towards a common goal. So in essence: teamwork.
It is early on in the tour but how is it going so far?
David: The shows are getting better and better and more fun. The songs can be serious at times so I like to have a little bit of fun with the crowd to keep the mood light. Something always happens at the shows too so it’s good to keep it light and have fun. If you can make them smile and then in the next song melt their faces off we’ve done our job.
What is next for Janus?
David: We start our Fall tour on September 11th with a handful of shows with Chevelle, Framing Hanley, Veer Union, Pop Evil and some other good bands. It’s going to be across most of the Mid-West and Southwest, so we’re really excited to get out into those markets and play as much as possible. In addition, the record drops September 22nd, so we are out supporting and spreading the word about our record: Red Right Return. We’ll also be working fan videos into our new site, so check our main site and MySpace often to see videos and pictures from all the shows.