Album of the Week: Kiwi Jr., 'Cooler Returns'

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Kiwi Jr
Kiwi Jr. - Cooler Returns (Sub Pop Records)

Toronto four-piece Kiwi Jr. have returned with their timely sophomore record, Cooler Returns. Mary Lucia caught up with members of the band to talk about the energetic new release, and their recording process in the past year.

Interview Highlights

Edited for clarity and length.

MARY LUCIA: So here we are, the new record which is Cooler Returns. I really am curious because this is the second record for you guys on Sub Pop and I don't even know in this day and age, how does somebody get signed to a label anymore? When everything is like careers made on TikTok and stuff, how did you guys get signed proper?

JEREMY GAUDET: Yeah, well, we put out our first record in 2019 and we got some pretty good press with that one. Some people at Sub Pop heard it and liked it enough just to reach out to us. Yeah, it was pretty simple. It was unexpected, but it was pretty cool for us.

I think I clocked Cooler Returns at 36 minutes, which I personally love. I remember seeing The Strokes when Is This It came out, and they really had 34 minutes of material on their first go round live. I've often wondered, does that sort of put you in a situation where you're forced to learn some weird covers? When you only have like a 34 minute set in the beginning?

JEREMY GAUDET: I don't think we we have played too many covers, only a few in the past. We'll do things where we'll have a song in a set and then after two gigs realize that no one likes it and we'll cut it. By cutting a lot of songs, that's how you get it down to 34, 35 minutes.

MARY LUCIA: Are you the kind of band that has things sort of demoed to death before you get into the studio? Are you able to write once you get in there?

JEREMY GAUDET: We definitely did with this album record just a lot of our live rehearsals. We would just put an iPhone in the middle of the room and that would be the extent of it. No, we don't really create these pretty elaborate demos like I know some bands do. And yeah, we do definitely allow for some creativity and spontaneity in the studio, where somebody might have an idea for a keyboard line or something like that. But for the most part, everything is pretty tracked out. We kind of know what we want before we get in there, I think.

MARY LUCIA: Do you guys live close to each other?

BRIAN MURPHY: Yeah, we all live in the West-End of Toronto. Yeah, we're not like super close. But we're all within a short bike ride distance.

MARY LUCIA: Have you ever just run into one of you at Walgreens, or whatever you have in Canada?

BRIAN MURPHY: Jeremy you saw Mike walking down the street with his bass once right?

JEREMY GAUDET: Yeah, I thought he was going to join another band. I was like, "What's going on?"

MIKE WALKER: I don't think I had a case either did I?

JEREMY GAUDET: No, just a loose bass.

BRIAN MURPHY: Bass in the wild.

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  • Kiwi Jr. play tracks from 'Cooler Returns' Toronto's Kiwi Jr. drop in for a virtual session to play tracks from their new album, Cooler Returns. The band catches up with Mary Lucia about their recording process in the past year, getting signed to Sub Pop Records, and the trickiness of planning for future shows as live music slowly returns.

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  • Kiwi Jr.
    Kiwi Jr. (Laura Lynn Petrick)

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