Roy Vizer from Jon & Roy – Interview

Victoria locals Jon and Roy have released a new album entitled Let It Go, which is a subtle departure from their previous and wildly successful album Homes.  I spoke with Roy Vizer (drums/percussion) about the new album, the road, and what life at home in Victoria is like for the duo.

VANCOUVER WEEKLY: What were you going for on this new album?

Roy Vizer: The way that we approached this album was different than the way we approached the last album.  When it came to the last album, I felt we had a lot of expectations to create this really awesome album and so we painstakingly worked on it, revised it, and edited it…and maybe over-thought things.

I still like the way the last album came out but the way that we approached this one was with a lot less planning.

Jon and I had practiced the songs throughout the fall.  We went into the studio in the winter and just recorded as simply as we could. We were going for takes that had a lot of feel as opposed to perfection.  I guess that would be the difference.

We also had a couple of guest musicians. We never had horns so in that way…things did came out a bit different as well.

VANCOUVER WEEKLY: Did you record at the same studio that you worked at previously?

Roy Vizer: Yup. We’ve done all the albums at the same studio with the same recording engineer.

VANCOUVER WEEKLY: Is it self-produced?

Roy Vizer: Jon and I work with our manager and our engineer.  It’s kind of like a very small operation. We all do it together basically.

VANCOUVER WEEKLY: How does the writing process work for you guys?

Roy Vizer: John usually writes the tracks with guitar and vocals.  He”ll come up with the melodies…then we’ll start playing it…eventually lyrics will come along…and then songs will start getting fleshed out as we play them in rehearsal.

They usually change quite a bit from when we first start working on them though.

Jon definitely does the singer/songwriter thing first and then we keep playing it until it feels right and has the right arrangement.

VANCOUVER WEEKLY: Did you strive for something different percussively on this album?

Roy Vizer: I have been getting more comfortable behind the drum set. I started off as more of a percussionist…its hard to say.  I feel like we’re slowly evolving and getting better at our instruments.  Maybe that has something to with it.

VANCOUVER WEEKLY: What are some of your influences? What are you listening to these days?

Roy Vizer: Jon and I listen to a lot of world music.

We listen to a huge variety of music.  With the iPod age, it seems like everyone’s got quite a varied mix.  We listen to a lot of reggae.  Not necessarily Bob Marley but some Burning Spear, Culture, Israel Vibration and other reggae bands like that.

There’s also a really cool African guitarist named Bombino that we have been listening to a lot lately.  We got to see in Victoria recently at a small show, which was awesome!

Jonny is really into this band called Tame Impala from Australia, which I have also been digging.

I personally listen to a lot of 70s bossa nova from Brazil and Cuban music.  The internet has definitely opened things up and allowed people to find music that they never would have been exposed to if they were just going about their music-listening [experiences].  The Internet has definitely broadened our musical tastes as well.

VANCOUVER WEEKLY: How did Jon and Roy come about?

Roy Vizer: My best friend came to UVIC a year before…I was still in Vancouver.

He met Jon when he was playing guitar on his own.

My buddy said, “You should meet my friend Roy…he plays drums and percussion.”

That was it.  We just started playing music at house parties at the start and open mics.

Eventually we got a gig at a bar called Steamers in Victoria, which actually doesn’t exist any more. We had some breaks where we put it down for a bit but we always came back to it.  We try not force it I guess.

VANCOUVER WEEKLY: Do you guys go on the road much?

Roy Vizer: The thing is that Jon and I both have regular jobs and lives here in Victoria.

Just dropping everything and going across the country in a car for 3 weeks is hard to do.

There are a lot of factors.

I was in school this year and Jonny helps his brother run a business.

Since we are a small band it’s easy for us to do that.  I mean…to go for a weekend or a few days and do a territory and then come back.  It keeps us fresh and enthusiastic.

VANCOUVER WEEKLY: What are you studying in school?

Roy Vizer: I’m going to be an English teacher. I got a degree in English & Writing in my Undergrad and now I’m taking this post-degree program to teach High school English.

Check out Jon and Roy :

Ricardo Khayatte

Ricardo Khayatte