It’s been a couple of years since our last Q&A with Toronto band Neon Bloom. They’ve just released their latest single “One Last Time”, alongside a video that was shot in Japan, continuing the spy theme featured in the video for their previous single, “It’s A Crime”. We caught up with the band to chat about the song and making of the video, what makes music venues great, and the artists they’ve been listening to lately.
From The Strait: Tell us about the new single, “One Last Time”.
Neon Bloom: Simon composed the parts on guitar and brought the idea to the band during rehearsal. It caught on right away, with everyone contributing their respective parts.
Jen: One Last Time was created with a lot of energy and a sense of physicality. We were back from lockdowns, practicing and performing and enjoying being able to play again. The song captures that Post-Covid feeling we had – and I think that many people share – of being blissfully aware of our bodies and the importance of socialization and connection with others. Lyrically, I did not want to belabour or overthink what was being said, so went with a very fluid, natural approach. The song ended up being about a woman’s preoccupation with, and physical desire for, a past lover. After all we’ve been through on a global scale, it’s meant to be a fun, hedonistic anthem to celebrate some mayhem and forget about the consequences.
FTS: Your new video was shot on a recent tour of Japan, tell us about that, and the premise for the video.
Neon Bloom: Our recent tour of Japan was based around our acceptance into the Tokyo Beyond Festival. After that, we booked other shows to fill out the rest of the trip. We ended up staying in Tokyo, Kobe, and Kyoto. Some of the other bands we saw were incredible and we ate delicious meals. On a day off, we took the ropeway lift to the top of the Kobe Nunobiki Herb Garden, which provides a stunning view of Kobe City. Other than that, we were quite busy. When on tour, we often try to combine sightseeing with band activities like photoshoots and filming footage for music videos.
While on tour in Japan, we wanted to take advantage of the spectacular locations and shoot a music video for the new song that we’d just recorded. We decided to revisit the spy/chase theme that was so successful in the music video for “It’s a Crime”, that we had shot while on tour in the Czech Republic.
Tokyo is such a visually striking city we wanted to feature as many different areas of the city as we could. It was a really fun way to travel and explore while scouting shooting locations. Some shots came together just because the setting or backdrop was so captivating.
FTS: All artists (save for the exceptionally lucky ones) experience writer’s block from time to time. How do you battle through a block when songwriting?
Neon Bloom: We actually have the opposite problem of writer’s overload – with all four Neon Bloom members contributing song ideas, it becomes a task to see what ideas actually get used!
Jen: when I’m battling through writer’s block, I sometimes have to put a song or lyric idea away for awhile and come back to it when I’m feeling inspired. Other times, I just push through and won’t let myself leave the room until I have something. Then, once I have a foundation, I’ll adjust it over time until I feel really good about it. Especially with lyrics, I find it can be important to at least sketch out rough lines and begin thinking about the theme or “story” of the song.
FTS: What has been your favourite venue to play? (And what in your opinion, makes a venue great?)
Neon Bloom: We’ve had the fortunate opportunity to play in many excellent clubs around the world. In Toronto, it’s always a pleasure to play the Legendary Horseshoe Tavern. We had an awesome time playing in the main room of the famous El Mocambo. The Monarch Tavern is always a great spot for indie bands.
Jen: A great venue should have a mix of established and up-and-coming bands, a good soundsystem, the possibility of all-ages nights (I firmly believe young people should get to go to more indie concerts), a dedicated spot for band merch, and it should be accessible. Many venues in Toronto are unprepared to host individuals with health conditions or impairments (narrow corridors, stairs only leading to bathrooms, lack of nearby parking, etc.). Though I’m sure this isn’t from a lack of caring, and much of the problem has to do with old infrastructure and just not having space, it would be great if venues would implement these changes wherever they can. As an example: because of my health conditions, after shows I often need to rest for awhile, but it can be impossible to even find a chair. This has caused problems on many occasions. Simply implementing extra, designated seating would be a great and easy start that could help many people with various needs.
FTS: Do you get nervous before playing live? If so, what do you do to combat that?
Neon Bloom: Not so much. Perhaps Chris gets nervous that another bandmate will dive into his drumset… ?
Jen: I still get a sort of surge before every show. It’s not nervousness, but is nervous-adjacent. When I first started performing – years ago – I would get terrified. My legs would shake and I would get nauseous. Now shows have become more of an enjoyable adrenaline rush.
FTS: Which bands or artists are you listening to most right now?
Fred: International artists I’ve been listening to include Sault, Koffee, Michelle, Leon Bridges, Hot Chip, Tennis, and the excellent return of the Yeah, Yeah Yeahs. Contemporary Canadian artists that I’ve been listening to include Destroyer, Dizzy, Dirty Nil, Pretty, Andy Shauf, Twin Rains, the new release by Alvvays, and the awesome Blunt Chunks, who will join us at the Drake Hotel on April 29th.
Jen: I’ve been on a kick with indie rock female artists recently, listening to Sharon Van Etten, PJ Harvey, Tori Amos. I’m also really excited for Blunt Chunks’ set at our show on the 29th!
Check out “One Last Time”, the latest single from Neon Bloom!