UTG INTERVIEW: Sorority Noise Discuss Your New Favorite Record, ‘Joy, Departed’

Sorority Final

“I feel like this one is building on self-deprication rather than drowning in it. I never thought I’d ever be able to write lyrics about getting better and finding all the good in the terrible.” This very statement from vocalist Cam Boucher is probably the greatest depiction of Sorority Noise’s stellar new record, Joy, Departed, which is due out on June 16.

In heavy anticipation of some of the band’s best work to date, Under The Gun had the pleasure of speaking with Sorority Noise’s Cam Boucher and Adam Ackerman before they played the New York City leg of their summer tour with Turnover and Fireworks.

Below, we go in depth and animatedly discuss the band’s history, their favorite one-liners from the record, individuals who have pushed them musically to get to where they are now, and a lot more.

Under The Gun: For those who don’t know, what are your names and what do you do for the band?

Cameron Boucher: Hello! My name’s Cameron and I play guitar and sing for the band.

Adam Ackerman: My name is Adam and I play guitar.

Cameron Boucher: He also sings.

UTG: How do you two know each other?

CB: We’ve been roommates. I was gonna be in his band freshman year of college. I was going to join because he described it as “pop-punk” but I took it as the wrong kind of pop-punk…so I left that after the first practice [laughs]. And then we became musical acquaintances and then roommates.

AA: We also played in a jazz combo together. I played upright and he played saxophone.

CB: Yeah. We did that for a bit and then he joined Sorority Noise.

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(Photo by Nick Karp)

UTG: Since you guys are a relatively young band, we could do a quick rundown of the band’s history thus far. When did Sorority Noise come together initially?

CB: September of 2013. Me, Kevin, and Jason started jamming together. That February or so, Adam came in and then we played a bunch of shows together. We put out an LP called Forgettable. In support of that we toured with Modern Baseball, The Hotelier, and Tiny Moving Parts.

AA: This is the second real tour the band has done.

CB: Yeah. Kevin and Jason quit in October… Well, they left…politely. But we’re still all really close friends.

AA: I play in another band with him now. We’re all good.

CB: And I recorded that band’s album, so we’re all cool. And then Ryan [also of Prawn] and Charlie [also of Old Gray] joined in December.

UTG: How have these past couple shows gone for everyone? Tour just started, right?

CB: Great! The past two sold out. I think tonight might, and tomorrow is, too. They’ve been great. Just really hot.

AA: Sooo hot.

CB: Just a lot of people packed in this area. [To Adam]: Would you play in an air conditioned room if you could?

AA: I would give so much.

UTG: Coming from Forgettable, what do you think happened over that year that made you want to record Joy, Departed? Was it the natural progression of “we need to put out a new record” or was there more to it?

CB: Yeah. Not even the “need” to. I just started writing more as time went on and we were jamming more as a unit. Adam and I graduated last weekend and we wanted to time things so we could do more for it after graduation and we could start playing as much as possible. That was the motivation, but the music itself wasn’t rushed in any way. It came about pretty organically.

UTG: I’ve actually heard the record and I love it a lot.

CB & AA: Wow, thank you so much!

UTG: Compared to your older material, this new one is very “crisp” and “buoyant” and just a tad bit more uplifting. What do you think motivated that slight shift?

CB: The whole band wrote these songs together, first of all. With Forgettable, it was a lot of me presenting them material. If I presented something good, then cool. Or it would be like, I would present something and they would be like, “We could salvage this piece of garbage,” [laughs]. So for this new one, it was more of a team effort. This was the first time I experienced the whole band writing the whole thing together. I think that fact made it come out clearer and made it reflect the better intentions and better ideas.

sorority noise joy departed

UTG: Did you guys go into the studio all together?

CB: We recorded it at our school. I’m a music production major there. We took off three days of work and practiced non-stop. Did drums in one day and bass in one day. And we just finished recording all the other parts in our respective homes.

UTG: Where do you both go?

CB: The Hartt School Of Music. Or the University of Hartford.

AA: Well, we went there. We’re out now!

CB: Oh yeah. All three of us here are out!

UTG: Thankfully! So I noticed that Joy, Departed has little remnants of Motion City Soundtrack here and there. What do you think about that?

CB: Oh, damn! Yeah. None of us really listen to the same kind of music, so it all came together as something that has different influences in terms of sound. So that we could create- it’s not something that other people haven’t heard before, but I definitely think that it’s pretty different from what we’ve done before.

AA: I think what Cam is trying to say is he’s a Motion City Soundtrack fan, so that does end up somewhere just because everything we listen to and everything else in life will influence a bit of what we write. It definitely shows up. And the fact that you heard MCS isn’t weird because we are definitely fans.

CB: Yeah. Was that not what I said? [laughs]

AA: I just specified it a little. Oh. You also have a lot of orange juice on your beard.

CB: Can you keep that part?

AA: Can you keep only that part? Just be like, “Adam to Cam: There’s orange juice on your beard.”

CB: And then just cut everything else out.

All: [laugh]

UTG: This song called “Fuchsia” really stuck out to me. Can you talk about that one?

CB: That was one of the songs that was written by just me in a bedroom. It didn’t really change out of its original form. I hang out in Philly a lot and I was at my friend Bren’s house and one day everyone had just left. I was sitting there and had this overwhelming fear in a relationship where you try to be something for someone that you don’t necessarily believe you can be. I was having a bunch of those thoughts so I wrote it in that one sitting and that’s how it stayed. Our friend Ruby sang in that song. [UTG premiered a Ruby Nightingale single earlier this year.]

AA: She also sings in the last song.

CB: Our friend Mike Underwood, or Handsome Mike as we affectionately call him, played strings for the whole thing.

AA: He’s so handsome.

CB; Yeah. Keep that [laughs]. He played violin for us for the whole thing and absolutely crushed it.

UTG: Thinking retrospectively, is there anything on this record that you never thought you’d be able to come up with? Whether lyrically or sonically.

CB: I never thought the last song on the record would work with this band sonically. I didn’t think we could ever progress to that type of sound and not have it be out of place. In terms of lyrical content, talking about drug usage and getting over addiction and coming to terms with depression and making something positive out of that. In the other record, we talk about “dying” in a little more negative light. I feel like this one is building on self-deprication rather than drowning in it. I never thought I’d ever be able to write lyrics about getting better and finding all the good in the terrible. I’m really happy I’m in a place mentally that allows me to write that way.

UTG: Is there a song you’re referring to in particular?

CB: “Using.” It’s the eighth track. It’s about doing drugs and feeling like shit. The chorus is about overcoming all of that. “I stopped wishing I was dead and learned to love myself” is one that sticks out to me. I feel good about it. It feels nice. There’s a half-step key change in that song. Never thought we’d ever have that.

UTG: Totally. Like, who does that? [laughs]

AA: Walt Disney. Mr. Walt Disney.

UTG: For you individually, if there’s one particular line on the record you can point to and call your favorite, which one would it be?

CB: Probably the first lyric of “Your Soft Blood.” It’s sort of about the other band that they started without me, kind of. The first line is like, “How do you become more to your friends than a conversation piece?” That sticks out to me because in high school, I’d never really connected to my friends the way you’d really connect with someone in college, and then I felt like I left an impression that was like, “Oh. Cool. Cam was here.” So I liked that one.

AA: On “Art School Wannabe,” there’s a part where we have Jake of Modern Baseball sing for us. He sings this quirky line that gets a point across well. It goes, “Here’s the thing: I’m doing fine. I know that I’m not worth your time. You need to change. I’m still the same. Took everything but my name.” That’s just very relevant to my life right now. I love the way it’s presented.

CB: He picked up the one part of the record that I don’t sing! But yeah. I actually used to sing that line wrong when we used to play it live. What I used to say totally contradicted this version. It was like, “Here’s the thing: I’m someone new. I couldn’t have done it without you.”

AA: But the second line was totally contradictory.

CB: Which was probably why I changed it. I actually never get my lyrics right.

AA: Yeah. Like “Rory Shield.”

CB: We’ve probably played “Rory Shield” thirty times live and I just never get it right.

UTG: Moving away from the actual material to cap this off, if you could have anyone in the world listen to this record, who would it be?

CB: Regina Spektor.

UTG: Oh, man, she’s amazing.

CB: She’s probably my favorite songwriter of all time. I don’t think she would like it, but I’d love for her to hear it. If she goes, “I heard your record,” I’d be like, “Yo, that’s tight. Sup… Reggie?” I’d call her Reggie affectionately [laughs]. Adam will say like Jimmy Page or something.

AA: Jimmy Page doesn’t need to hear my weak-ass guitar playing. I kind of hope my very first bass teacher hears it. I’m actually a bass player at heart. At…Hartt…actually. His name’s Dave. He came from his wedding that apparently didn’t go well before our very last lesson, and that was the last time I ever saw or heard of him. Don’t know what happened. I hope he hears it because he was a big help in getting me to where I am.

CB: On that note, my first lessons teacher, too. Jeff Jenkins. He was preparing me to go to music camp and he told me I shouldn’t bother and that music wasn’t gonna work out unless I really try very hard. I’ve been sending him everything I’ve done but he never responds [laughs]. I remember randomly doing a sax solo in the eighth grade. I wasn’t supposed to, but I stood up on stage and solo’d. He hated me. So yeah, him and Regina Spektor. Oh, and Jimi Hendrix, too!

AA: No. Don’t! Take him off the list! Well, I mean, if he hears it and he thinks it’s fine, then I wanna hear back about that, but if he’s not into it, he can just keep that to himself.

Make sure you go out and grab a copy of Joy, Departed over at Topshelf Records. Keep your eyes peeled for a review from us soon, as well.

Interview written and conducted by Dana Reandelar

Dana Reandelar

If not hunched over her desk writing about music, Dana can be found binge-watching old episodes of Gilmore Girls or condensing long rants to 140 characters. She also writes for Idobi Radio, and is an Off The Record podcast contributor.
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