March 21, 2023
Canada’s Another Joe are back after a two decade long hiatus – with a scorching new album
Sometimes, things come flying out of left field and smack you in the face like a wet sock. Things that are truly unexpected. One of those, was the return of Canada’s skate punk brigade Another Joe. I hadn’t heard of them for so long, that when I received an advance copy of their new record, Ready Or Not, from People Of Punk Rock Records, I couldn’t so much as recall who they were.
However, modern problems have modern solutions, and a quick rip across Youtube reminded me that this was a band I used to listen to quite a lot. Suddenly, I remembered. One of my first jobs after leaving high school was at this plant that made fire hoses, on the night shift, with this kid a year or two younger than me that was always playing Gob, especially their split record with Another Joe. I haven’t thought of those days in so long. Up all night, firing hoses filled with purple dye all through the night, looking for leaks and slowly dying of pure boredom.
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Twenty-three years since going on hiatus, Another Joe are back as if they never left. That’s a hell of a long time to have been floating about in limbo. It seemed an opportune time to get in touch with Jon Glen, the guitarist and vocalist of Another Joe, and have a wee chat.
Strangely enough, Another Joe would disband and fade into the sands of time just a few months after the release of what was up until that time, their best record, Plasti-Scene. An album that was very well received and rapidly gaining steam. But behind the scenes, it would appear that much more was going on than anybody knew. Drummer John Rylance left the band and shortly after the band took on a hiatus that has lasted until now – twenty-three years on.
It has been widely believed that the hiatus was due to the band not being able to find a replace for Rylance – yet there is more to the tale.
“I can’t really speak for John and his situation at the time that he decided to leave and head back to Ontario,” says Glen. “But I know for each one of us at that stage in our career with Another Joe, it was about as difficult as you can imagine, and given the headspace that I was in personally at the time that he decided to move back home, I most certainly did not work very hard at replacing him. I knew that a hiatus was badly needed, and my mental health had to be focused on first and foremost. It just turned into a way more extended break than I would have ever anticipated.”
With this information, the lyrics to Sound Advice, off of Another Joe’s new record, Ready Or Not, suddenly makes a heck of a lot more sense. It is a song that deals with mental health issues and doing what is needed to find inner peace, to hit the reset button. Today, topics such as mental health are commonly spoken about but rewind twenty or thirty years and that simply wasn’t the case. People, especially men, didn’t speak of such things for the social stigmas that inevitably came with them.
Although it was surely something that was needed for Glen to go through, it came at a time where his band were on the cusp of breaking through and joining the upper echelon of skate punk musicians. When punk and hardcore had found a more melodic avenue to explore, while amping up the energy which had found resonance with the youth, especially those into non-mainstream sports like skateboarding. Suddenly MTV were playing bands like NOFX and The Offspring.
In Canada, bands like Gob where gaining attention, and shortly after Another Joe went into storage, Sum 41 emerged and set the punk world alight, alongside bands like Good Charlotte and Simple Plan. Blink 182 were about to skyrocket and surely Another Joe would have been somewhere in the vicinity, given how strong of a record Plasti-Scene was. The timing of Another Joe’s hiatus meant that they never got to tour for Plasti-Scene, never gave themselves a chance to implode alongside their peers that soared to the top of the mainstream charts.
“I do not doubt that if we stayed on the trajectory we were on, put our heads down and continued on that path, we most certainly would’ve seen continued success and done all the things however, I never think about that stuff,’ says Glen. “I don’t regret for half a second taking the time away to focus on my mental health. Anybody around me at that time would one-thousand percent agree with me as well that I was in such a bad place for years. My issues negatively affected people around me, and I needed to get away and focus on myself and the problems I was carrying around with me, not for a band’s success. I tried it for years, and it didn’t work so great.”
In recent times, there has been renewed interest in 90s era skate punk, largely due to record labels such as People Of Punk Rock re-issuing long out of print and hard to find gems of yore. One such record being Another Joe’s Pee Against The Wind album, and as chaos theory dictates, as butterfly effect does, the winds of that blew the dust off of the dormant Another Joe and rekindled their flame. It sparked something deep within Glen and Another Joe awoke.
“This definitely didn’t happen overnight, as you can imagine,” states Glen. “Around seven years ago, Alison Toews and I considered having a quick and easy one-off Another Joe reunion show for fun. At that time, I reached out to Ryan Wagner, who plays guitar with Another Joe full-time today, to have him play second guitar and make the sound bigger live, and I reached out to Gabe Mantle (Gob) as well to help us out, who also is now our drummer. However, it was too difficult to focus on the project then, so we scraped it.”
“Fast forward to a couple of years ago, I found myself writing songs again, writing lyrics and realizing that I was writing Another Joe songs. I felt like it was a perfect time for me. It was refreshing because I had no expectations on any level, so it felt comfortable. I just took my time and wrote lots of material, and when the time was right, Ernie – with whom we worked together on Pee Against the Wind, Cran-Doodle Daddy and Plasti-Scene – and I hooked up and recorded the new album Ready Or Not together.
“My plan was not to regroup as a formal band and play live shows. I simply wanted to record an album and release it under the name Another Joe, but all that changed after I revisited the songs on Pee Against The Wind while re-mastering it and with People of Punk Rock Records re-released it and immediately all of the fire I needed was back. I was ready and super excited to revisit Another Joe and put the live band together with Alison, Ryan and Gabe“. Mario Nieva chose to leave at this point, as his other obligations were too many and he didn’t want to hold the band back.
“It was like a full circle moment of going back to the beginning to find out why I love doing this so much, had I not re-connected with our first album, I doubt this would be happening on this level.”
Listening to Ready Or Not, the brand new album from Another Joe, shows evidence of maturity both in song writing, in the lyrics and in the overall persona of the band. They say experience makes us wise, and given the topics found in the lyrics, that would most defiantly be the case. Ready Or Not has similarities with Plasti-Scene but it also is quite different too. While it does feel like nature progression, the time away has left its mark too, and for the better. Very few bands return from a lengthy break better than when they left off, but I would say that is the case with Another Joe.
“Well, one thing about Plasti-Scene is that when I was writing the songs for that album, you can hear that we were veering away from what we had recorded previously, “says Glen. “I wanted to try to start writing with more structure and different parts that were unique to previous Another Joe music at that time.”
“Ready Or Not – to me – feels like a natural progression from Plasti-Scene, and the word “mature” has been popping up by people, which I can see and hear. The most significant difference with the new music is that the songs have more structure, I feel like they’re more melodic, and I feel like they have more breathing room for parts. They have been written to let the vocals come through, and you can hear what I’m saying. That’s a big difference for me vocally on this album is that I am more “singing,” not as nasally or yelling but more melodic, and you can still hear the anger or frustration through my voice.”
“Alison and I laughed when we talked about a few songs on Ready Or Not, saying, “oh, it’s like a “real” song?!” – a lot of care and attention went into the songs and lyrics, and I think more so than our previous releases.”
There are several songs that have a serious undertone to them, and see Glen and Another Joe tackle some very heart-wrenching topics. One, around which the song T-Bird Tattoo is based, is absolutely gut-wrenching. T-Bird Tattoo is about the tragic loss of a young child, and unfortunately based on a true story.
“There are two songs on Ready Or Not that I have a difficult time allowing myself to sink into the lyrics and reflect on them,” says Glen. “The first is T-Bird Tattoo, and the second is Sound Advice. With that being said, every single song on this album is incredibly personal to me – more so than anything I’ve ever written in the past. There are no throwaway lyrics at any point on any song on Ready Or Not. I honestly could go on for an hour about the creation of T-Bird Tattoo, as it has a long story about how the song was first conceptualized, the process of writing it and then how it is today, but ill try to keep it somewhat pointed.”
“The situation I’m singing about in the song is not mine. However, it is the story of a friend of mine and a tragic loss that affected him, his wife and their family so profoundly that I can’t begin to imagine the pain they felt and still feel, as I am a father of two kids. I, of course, connect with their story on a level; but also appreciating the inspiring strength that they have as a couple and a family. I was deeply affected by their story and have never forgotten it.”
“Years later, after much work on this song, I was inspired to write a song that focused on how a tattoo is a celebration of life for some people. It’s a way of keeping a memory or person alive and in the world together. We can take the most tragic events and choose to take and keep only the most beautiful parts with us, and I think that’s so special for so many people, their stories and their art. T-bird is the name of my primary tattoo artist. That’s done about 98% of the tattoos on my body. He was a big Another Joe fan from back in the 90s, and he had no idea at all that I pulled inspiration from him for this song, so it’s a deeply special song to me, almost as a gift to some incredible people in my life.”
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“I’ve never been more proud of something I’ve written in my life than this song, it is deeply therapeutic for me, and I hope that other people can connect with this song and that it’s special to them as well, ” explains Glen. And he should be – in fact, truth is that there is a lot for Glen and Another Joe to be proud about. Things overcome and a phenomenal return to world of music. Many artists go on breaks or hiatuses but seldom to the musicians come back from such a period better than when they left – Another Joe did.
Their new record, Ready Or Not, isn’t the only Another Joe record to be committed to vinyl this year – as People Of Punk Rock Records also re-issued Pee Against The Wind earlier in the year, too. Glen also mentions that he hopes to have both Cran-Doodle Daddy and Plasti-Scene released as soon as possible on vinyl as well (I wonder if they’ll swap out the discman from the Plasti-Scene album cover for a photo of Daniel Ek – or maybe a cell phone? iPod? Ah ignore me. Most people do anyway.)