Premire of Justine and the Unclean's
"Be Your Own Reason"
With Free Digital Download
Justine and the Unclean would seem to have had a quick rise which belies the fact that all the members have long group histories. This is four savvy players playing some sharp tunes.
It was less than a year ago when RumBar Records
released two singles that got the scene talking about the group.
There was real excitement by the time the album was released.
So here we are again. Now we have the first single from their second album. We've thrilled to have it here at the Boston Groupie News for it's premier and free download.
We gave Justine Covault a few questions trying to discern the motives and orgins of her songwriting, among other things.
BGN - Did you write songs in Malachite? Or Quest for Tuna?
I wrote some of the Malachite songs with Janet
and others in that band. I did not write songs for Quest
for Tuna, that was Jay Allen and Evan
BGN - When you hear that first album your voice/lyrics come across with a
distinctive character. Did you try for that or is that just the way it comes out?
That distinctive character is who I am. I'm writing and singing about
things I'm experiencing and feeling, although I often take an idea and
develop (or embellish) it to tell a story that I think is worth
telling. But yeah that's my personality for better or worse!
Photo: John Keegan
BGN - Live you did a song called Monosyllabic Man,
is that on this next album?
Yes, that song is on our EP that's coming out this fall. We are thinking about calling the EP "You Man, Me Jane," which is a line from that song. The song is about the beauty and value of being quiet once in a while. Every word in the song has exactly one syllable except for two: monosyllabic, and quiet.
BGN - There was a gap after Malachite/Swank of a few years. Did things seem different (scene-wise) when you ramped up this new project?
Things certainly are different, but I'm thrilled that the local rock scene is alive and well, and that so many old friends are still rocking their balls off.
BGN - Did the business way of doing things change?
Huge changes in social media, club bookings, music distribution, etc., but the goal is the same, to get the rock in front of people.
BGN - This was recorded at Woolly Mammoth?
BGN - Anything you want to say about that experience/ or any
I love that place! Dave Minehan is so encouraging
and easy to work with. He took away a lot of my initial trepidation
during the process of making the first record. The whole band
loves him, he brings out the best in all of us. And he lets my
songs and my voice be what they are, because he understands that
they can't really be anything else.
Photo:Duncan Wilder Johnson
BGN - You have a wide range of things you play and influences.
Did you pick a ‘way’ to play? Meaning a style? Trying to keep the overall sound in a certain vein?
I try for a lot of different ideas when I'm writing, and sometimes
I fail spectacularly. I do have a couple of principles, like keeping
songs short and making sure there's a chorus that's worth getting
to. I usually have a sound in mind when I'm writing a song, and
it never, ever comes out sounding like I planned, but it always
sounds like the Unclean. I'm really, really lucky
to have such a strong band with such a distinctive sound. Jim's
drums, Charles' guitar, and Janet's
bass and backup vocals are unmistakable in the way they come together.
That allows me to write all kinds of shit, and they make it sound
like a band. For example, when I was writing "Be Your Own Reason"
I was thinking about the jangly/minor/major sound of the Smithereens
and about Rum Bar artist Nato Coles'
sort of Springsteen vibe with the "oh oh oh"s. But I think it
came out sounding like The Unclean.
BGN -And how do you describe what your doing? I've heard it called pop punk and punk pop, but I think of it as rock.
Who do you think the band sounds like?
No idea, I have no objectivity whatsoever and am stumped by
this question since I am thinking about a different sound inspiration
with every song. I love the way Charles, Jim, and Janet interpret
the songs to create a consistent and killer sonic impression.
It feels and sounds like a band in everything we do. I was really
happy with the way our "Rock and Roll Blackmail" video
(by Duncan Wilder Johnson Creative) came out
because my bandmates are featured as their hilarious and awesome
selves. It really is that fun playing with them. I'm one lucky
rock and roll bitch.
BGN - You don’t write the stereotypical love song – again by choice or that’s the
way it comes out?
That's the way it comes out. I write about things that I've actually felt or thought, but not specific situations or humans. Sometimes I take a specific thought that's blasted its way through my brain and just expand on that idea. I wouldn't call the songs autobiographical but the ideas spring from the heartaches, thrills, and frustrations I've experienced. People sometimes ask me if a song is about them. The answer is always no, but verse two line three might hold your shadow.
BGN - Is Lou as shy and retiring as he seems at clubs?
Ha! Lou is such a kind spirit and a true champion of rock and roll. He believes deeply in his label and his artists, and the sheer joy he finds in the music is infectious. He gets me pumped up about my band and is a living, breathing, whooping, hollering reminder to me of why I'm doing this -- because I love rock and I can't stop playing it for love or money.
Lou Mansdorf and Janet
Photo: Miss Lyn