On the title track from Old Man Canyon’s Phantoms and Friends EP, you can’t help but think what a perfect title it is. Slow, chiming chords echo over the track, while Old Man Canyon–AKA Jett Pace– mournfully croons. It weaves images of loss, betrayal, and regret. It sounds like a funeral for someone who is still alive.
With that kind of imagery at his disposal, it’s no wonder so much of Pace’s work has been picked up by the film industry. If our vivid description of “Phantoms and Friends” didn’t spark your memory, you might remember it as being featured on a recent episode of the hit show Suits. Other songs have found themselves on MTV shows like Awkward or the Showtime series Shameless. But Pace isn’t a score writer. The Vancouver native brings a distinct brand of west coast folk to the table, mixed with elements of rock and a certain je ne sais pas that sets him apart from any other throwback folk group. Lotusland gave Jett a call to talk about his upcoming tour, a disturbing lack of shenanigans at his shows, and his former rap career. Spoiler alert: He owes us 16 bars.
What’s going on with Old Man Canyon right now?
Oh man, there’s a lot going down. We’re kinda in the final stages of getting ready for this month and a half long summer tour which we are leaving for on Saturday, so we’re just tying up all the loose ends on that and making sure everything is ready.
You released Phantoms and Friends around two months ago. What’s the reaction been like so far?
It’s been phenomenal. It kinda exploded, in a lot of ways! I mean, we’ve had our songs featured in a few big TV shows, which has help monumentally in getting the word out about us. Other than that, playing shows and helping promote the EP– and I’ve got a few new songs I’ve been working on.
I was just gonna ask actually– you have a song on Suits and a whole bunch of MTV shows. How did that happen?
Well, from a previous band I was in contact with a really great licensing agent in L.A. When the EP came out, I showed him, and he loved it! He started licensing it out to a few people, people started to really love it, and there you go!
I have to ask though– because the album has a lot of elements that obviously work for a TV show, would you ever consider making the score to a movie, Alex Turner style?
I would so totally be down for that. I actually was offered that a few months ago but sadly didn’t have time to do it. But definitely right up my alley, something I have to do one day
Recently, you had a chance to play alongside the Sheepdogs! How was that?
That was a great show man. It was Sun Peaks, 5000 people were there, it was freezing cold, awesome energy…didn’t get to hang out with them too much, they were on a pretty tight schedule– I think they were heading straight to the Junos after.
Prior to that show, you opened for Foster the People in Vancouver. With all these crazy meetups, what are some of your favourite show stories?
Favourite show stories! Let me think here… the Foster the People show was just epic. That was defnetly my favourite show in the sense that the crowd was just incredibly responsive to everything, and I got to hang out with Foster the People which was really cool. Nothing to crazy has happened at shows– I always kinda wished something did, just so that I could answer these questions better [laughter]. Everything has been pretty tame so far. Maybe something really crazy will happen on the road.
We’ve seen a really big resurgence in folk music in the past few years. If you had to place it on something, what do you think has caused the new folk boom?
I think it was a reaction to a lack of authenticity in the music scene . A lot of folk music really focuses on subjects that I think kinda speak to people more, stuff that people can relate too. The melodies and the way songs are laid out just speaks to people a lot more. It was just time for everyone to focus on something other than club bangers.
Your music has that older folk influence, but there’s also that west-coast tinge. What do you consider to be your influences?
Aw man, so many. My Dad was a big rock and roll fan, so he had me listening to a lot of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, and then my Mom was just a disco queen, so you know, Prince and Michael Jackson. I have these two opposing worlds that I try to embody in the music, but it’s definitely more folky, but I’m so excited to get this new stuff out because it’s dramatically different from what we saw on the EP. Not so folky anymore. It takes time to really hone on the exact sound that you’re looking for, but this new stuff is really just dead on for me.
A lot of bands go through a lot of bad names before they decide on one that they want to use. What is the worst name that you’ve ever performed under?
[laughter] Performed under? I actually used to do hip hop.
Oh my god.
Yeah, me and Colin from Wake Owl used to rap together, and our band name was “The Magi Three”. Yeah, it was pretty bad.
Can you spit some rhymes?
Oh man, let me think here. We actually had a whole rap album made, I’m kinda hoping to fuse that back into stuff somehow. Let me think of a verse [laughter] oh damn, can’t think of anything!
Do…do you want me to give you a beat?
No. Oh man, I can’t even remember any of our songs. We’ll come back to it!
We will indeed. So after you’ve wrapped up this tour, what’s next?
I’m hoping to record these new songs! I have way too many songs and they all need to get out into the world. Hopefully after tour and all the festivals die down I’ll have some time to do my recording in October and get this new stuff out into the world.
Can’t wait! Alright, well, those were the questions I had for you…any chance I’m getting some bars?
Let me just think here….I wish I had these words in my brain….god, I’m just blanking here man.
No worries. I don’t think I’ve ever asked a folk musician to rap for me over the phone before. We are both in new territory.
I wanna rap, I just can’t think of what to rap [laughter]. Sorry man, it’s just not coming to me.
It’s all good man, you just owe me a verse.
Old Man Canyon are currently on tour. To find a list of their tour dates, look here.