Pottery: Montreal misfits’ debut is a hedonistic reminder of life on the road

After touring with Parquet Courts and Viagra Boys, the Montreal band's debut album tells the story of unglamorous – and unintentionally hilarious – times on tour

Some time ago, there was a chance that you might have seen Pottery out on the road. The Montreal band had already conquered UK venues like Brixton’s The Windmill over here as they power their a dogged sense of freewheeling ambition city-to-city. In fact, their restless guitar-driven debut album ‘Welcome To Bobby’s Motel’ is a wild homage to a life of crappy motels, fast food and the mundane realities of touring as an emerging artist. Pretty bittersweet right now, huh.

“There’s a little speech bubble on the sleeve of the new record that says ‘It’s not much but it’s home to us’,” frontman Austin Boylan says. “I think that line captures the entire ordeal of our evolution and us travelling around now. Even though we’re not rich, we’re still having fun and feel at home together.”

Musically the record puts their chaotic journey into action, with lead single ‘Texas Drums PT I & II’ setting the tone, blurring influences of Talking Heads through to the likes of James Brown. Austin explains why there’s little breathing room in the listen. “Our style is just really blunt, fast and intense. All of us are mature individuals but I think that when we come to play music together, it’s almost like kindergarten. There’s a young energy that comes alive.”

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Despite all coming from different musical backgrounds and interests, they’ve never slowed in this approach. “Even as our music evolves, we’ve never stopped liking playing the energetic stuff.”

Bassist Tom Gould adds, “I think it comes from the live thing. We just always want people to have the best time and jump around. That’s why our music is like that.”

Songs like ‘Take Your Time’ come as a wild, jittery and raw form of post-punk, packing an edge that could have only been honed in dive bars and darkened back rooms. It makes sense that their first serious break came opening for kindred spirits Parquet Courts. “Jake was in a bar one night drinking and this guy mentioned how his company had booked Parquet Courts”, explains Austin. “He was like was like, fuck man, we’ll play that show for free and just said it on the spot.”

Turns out this was a pretty decisive moment for the band. “They were really helpful and we ended up playing with them a bunch more,” says Tom. “It was one of those things that you don’t think about but the Montreal live scene made all that happen.” This chance encounter on the live scene threw the band straight into the sphere of artists they needed to be in. “It wasn’t overnight but it was one of those big stepping stones”.

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They’ve even likened the city’s influence to an additional member. “The winters in Montreal are great because it allows us to stay inside, work on music and do that indoors stuff without feeling bad”, says Austin. It’s a city with a music scene that chimes with their own ethos, providing them with a vast wealth of touring bands to tap into. “I think it’s one of the outstanding cities that still has a strong identity in terms of artistic culture. It’s cheap, there are a lot of young people who are hungry for what they believe in, there are a lot of great musicians supporting each other and venues.”

The concept of ‘Welcome To Bobby’s Motel’ came about as a mushroom-induced joke, stemming from a face-swap photo between Austin and the drummer Paul Jacobs, taken when they were first starting out. Tom explains, “We were hanging out in an apartment, we were pretty high, it was the funniest photo we’d ever seen and we still laugh about it today. Then on this last US tour, we were trying to figure out what name to give the record, then the idea came about of it being ‘Welcome To Bobby’s Motel’ and using that face swap as a character of Bobby.”

Er, sounds like you had to be there. But though the album is riddled with these in-jokes and humour, it’s not to the detriment of the songs or the overall message. “The continuous references to hotel living or being on the road are there because we were in these shitty hotels the whole time,” Tom says. “It unintentionally kind of came to be.”

“That first tour we did with Viagra Boys was a big influencer,” Austin adds. “We’d played in this place called Weed in California, it’s like this tiny little motel, we were doing acid and stuff and laughing all night. I think our whole concept is that we’re all having fun together and travelling around even though every place we were staying at was slightly uncomfortable. We were at home with each other and having fun.”

Their words paint a Fear And Loathing-themed picture of delirium: hotels blurring into one another, excess, drug-use and crappy food. “Everywhere looks the same”, says Tom. “We’re in different cities and we’re still around each other making the same shit jokes and living in that world. On a budget as well. It gets a little bit better but not a lot.”

It’s likely that not much will change for Pottery – the album and hard work should bring bigger venues and opportunities in time, but this life on the road simply feels like it was made for them. “I think it’s really important for us not to be egotistical and not expect anything,” says Austin. “Everything will come to you in a positive manner if you have good intentions.

“Everything that we have received and accomplished has been an insane journey because we never expected anything. Pottery started with us meeting each other in Montreal and just wanting to play music together. It was never like, ‘let’s be a big band’. It just kind of came about on its own because we’re all good friends and all love each other.”

You feel like it’s a win-win for this band whatever is up the road for them. Austin rounds off “It’s all difficult but at the same time we’re extremely privileged. It’s a beautiful memory and we’re proud of it. It’s a shoutout to ourselves and all other start up bands that have to tour the states like this because it fucking sucks but its also the best time in the world.”

Pottery’s debut album ‘Welcome To Bobby’s Motel’ is out now

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