Every once in a while you run into a band that is the Real Deal. This is one of those times. Meet Jersey.
Based in Burlington, Ontario, Jersey is proper punk in the tradition of the Clash, Rancid and Bad Religion infused with elements of Springsteen, U2 and even a little Tie Domi. All four members are proudly working-class guys who took day jobs in places like steel plants, warehouses and hockey arenas to finance the band. Right from the beginning, Jersey’s DIY work ethic has seen them cover tens of thousands of miles through Canada, the US and the UK, including four tours of duty with the Warped Tour, and road trips with punk’s greatest warriors.
Need to know more? Sure you do.
Greg is an ex-pro BMXer who was forced to retire after too many face plants and busted ankles. Between tours, he works in a steel factory where he managed to crush a hand with an I-beam. When Jersey needs to go on tour, Greg’s boss gives him all the time off he needs. Greg also records bands when not touring.
Sean found work as a groundskeeper at Glen Abbey, Canada’s most famous golf courses in order to pay the bills that come with being in a band. While he gets to play for free, management makes him wear long sleeves lest his tattoos scare off the members. If he’s not golfing, he’s playing goal for a team called the Pucking Iceholes.
Johnny was scouted by the NHL when he played goal for the Oshawa Generals and Barrie Colts of the OHL. When it came time to choose, Johnny went with Jersey over the hockey jersey. He still plays for a pick-up team called the Bloody Tampons who sometimes face-off against play Sean’s team-that is, when he’s not working the Zamboni for a couple of Burlington arenas. A word of caution: if you’re in a hurry, don’t get him started about fishing for musky. (He’s actually written articles on the subject for Musky Hunter magazine and spent part of his record company advance on a new fishing boat.)
Jordan-the third drummer in the history of the group-is Jersey’s video game freak. Now that he’s mastered everything for the Play Station 2 (including Vice City), he’s taken up old school Nintendo. His day gig is in a warehouse where packs and ships heavy machinery, and also works at the bands rehearsal studio.
Jersey first came together in 1996, more-or-less evolving out of a band called Grade. Their rep as a killer live act got them gigs in Canada, the US and the UK with bands like Propagandhi, Less Than Jake, MxPx, NOFX and the Offspring. Tours lasted months and some nights, Jersey was lucky to be paid 30 bucks. In some cases, Jersey played for free just to get the word out.
Greg remembers the time their van broke down on the way home from a tour that ended in Arizona. “It basically died in the middle of Oklahoma when the head gasket blew. McNab saved us by finding us illegal jobs working in a tie-dye shirt factory. We worked 22-hour shifts until we had enough money to fix the van. Meanwhile, Jordan’s back home, organizing a benefit concert to raise cash to get us home.”
While they had a chance to work with a high-profile producer, Jersey asked a friend Tinm Park to help with pre-production. As the owner of Jersey’s rehearsal space (the Music Gym), he’s heard the band develop over the years. The album itself was recorded in London, Ontario, and was co-produced with Dan Brodbeck. And before you ask, yes, Jersey was granted complete creative control over every aspect of the album.
Virtually every Jersey song is based on real-life experiences and observations and gets the message across by being anthemic without being preachy. “This Town” looks as the sick underside of perfect-looking suburbia. “Shop Floor” was inspired by the hours Greg spent at the steel plant. “Generation Genocide” (the first single) and “Old Bones and Dirty Coffins” examine how self-destructive attitudes friends can tear at loyalties and friendship. “The Story of ‘53” evolved out of a conversation Greg had with a boastful old guy over pints at the band’s English pub hangout.
Just listen. And if you haven’t already, experience them live. Jersey’s credo is “Integrity = Longevity.” If that’s true, Jersey could be around for a long, long time.
Thanks to JERSEY ROCKS! for submitting the biography.