By Matty Hume, March 29 2018 —
If you’ve been to small shows in Calgary over the past decade, you’ve probably soaked up the punchy sounds of bands like Grown-Ups, Lab Coast and Sissys while chomping an A-Bomb at Tubby Dog. If that’s the case, then you’ll recognize every member of Calgary’s next pop-rock sensation, Pre Nup. After a massively popular four-song 7”, Pre Nup will release their first full-length record, Oh Well, on May 4.
Pre Nup is the poppy project of married duo Josiah Hughes and Sara Hughes (Grown-Ups), with help from good pals Darrell Hartsook (Lab Coast, Sissys) and Chris Dadge (Lab Coast, Alvvays, Chad VanGaalan). After the fast-paced angst of Grown-Ups, Josiah says Pre Nup is more in-tune with the Hughes’s true selves.
“It wasn’t really true to us to be aggressive and angry. We were getting tired of so many bands coming out that were trying to be rockin’, like rock and roll vibes, so the idea was trying to make something way more poppy or wussy,” Josiah says. “The first thing I was thinking of was to do something like Belle and Sebastian. I’m obsessed with melody and classic songwriting.”
Despite the laid back intention, the poppy sonics of Pre Nup quickly took on a quicker pace and a bit more pep.
“Sara especially is so impatient in a good way. She kind of made all the songs three times as fast as they were originally written,” Josiah laughs. “The influence of us getting bored easily and loving punk still came in. It helped me write better songs and in general, we just love when people get to the point.”
The outcome is a delicious 10-track LP that’s equal parts melancholic reflection and head-shaking power-pop. Opener “Admit” sets a pace that carries the record all the way until closer “Life in Hell.” It’s an album worth chewing through in one sitting every time you put it on and will make you eager to tap your feet at every show they play in town. It’s a fully realized record with evident care and thoughtfulness.
Josiah says Oh Well benefits from a more contemplative writing process than the self-titled 7” debut.
“While the songs are way shorter and to the point, I also wanted to pack as many ideas into each song as possible,” Josiah says. “For the 7”, I wasn’t really thinking about there being two guitars all the time. But on the LP, I really thought about packing the songs with ideas so there’s so much going on at once. We also just spent forever on it.”
By “forever,” Josiah means a solid year of careful attention and recording around Dadge’s busy schedule. Over the past year, Dadge has been busy drumming for jangle-pop stars Alvvays and touring with Calgary’s legendary Chad VanGaalan. Josiah sees the drawn-out process as solely a benefit and says it allowed for a more thoughtful creative process.
In addition to musical duties and penning for Exclaim! magazine, Josiah co-hosts the ever-growing comedy and music podcast Blink-155, which devotes one episode to each of Blink-182’s 155 songs.
Oh Well is scheduled for release on Debt Offensive/Jigsaw Records on May 4 and Pre Nup is throwing a release show and party at Tubby Dog on May 12. While you’re waiting in anticipation, check out the self-titled 7” and other singles on Pre Nup’s Bandcamp, plus check out the video for “Wrong Your” on Vimeo — where the band jams in the centre of Real Canadian Wrestling’s ring at the Royal Canadian Legion #1 downtown.