Meet Junior – a growing pop-punk band from Cardiff
Wales is often called “the land of song” and we can proudly say that even today, Wales has a thriving music scene which has contributed a lot to the globally. Wales has given some big music names throughout the 20th century like Tom Jones, Mary Hopkins, Bonnie Tyler and also many others who were a part of some of the biggest music sensations of all times, like John Cale of The Velvet Underground or Roger Glover of Deep Purple and Rainbow.
Our Marketing Manager Kat went down to Cardiff to meet up with pop-punk band Junior. With multiple UK tours, as well as international tours in the US and Canada, this trio guarantee energy, joy and laughs in their performances as well as on their social media!
Behind the frivolity of the band, all three young men are incredibly successfully in their own right, making a name for themselves and doing great things while they are at it! Mark Andrews, the groups bassist, is an incredibly well-known Welsh professional wrestler. He is signed to WWE, where he performs on their cruiserweight exclusive show WWE 205 Live as well as for their NXT UK brand. He is also known for his time in Impact Wrestling under the ring name Mandrews.
Si Martin, the band’s drummer, is the founder of not-for-profit organisation Heads Above The Waves that has the worthy aims of raising awareness of depression and self-harm in young people.
Matt Attard, the band’s lead vocalist, guitarist and singer is also the founder of successful Hot Tags – Media Works, a unique service that creates wrestling entrance themes and that has had over half a million streams for the year on Spotify!
We had a lovely chat with them during which they’ve told us a lot about their early days, fresh starts and how other Welsh pop bands influenced their style and musical development, but also about how cool it is to contribute to Welsh music in general.
So, first of all, thanks for taking the time to meet us! Can you tell us a bit more about Junior?
Matt: Well, we are a three-piece pop-punk band from South Wales. We formed in early 2014 and have been at it ever since. In the beginning, it was definitely Blink 182 – and it kinda made sense because of the similarities. But once we started to experiment we really found our own sound. All three of us have eclectic tastes like I really enjoy Radiohead or The Beatles.
Si: Ever since I was a little kid I’ve wanted to be a part of the Welsh music scene, mostly because a lot of the bands I looked up to from a very young age were from Wales. This is my 10th year here and I love it! I came for Uni and didn’t want to leave – and a huge part of that was the Welsh music scene. Plus I’ve always wanted a Welsh accent!
And your main inspirations?
Si: I’m really into alternative rock music like Bright Eyes which is nothing like Junior, but still very inspiring. Mark likes things like “Midwest Emo” with nice, twinkly melodies.
Mark: Yeah they always make fun of the music I listen to, saying I’m always trying to make all of our songs sadder that they were originally supposed to be! I do like the softer music – sometimes even sad music and I always want to add more of a melody on top of the song. Bands such as American Football and
Matt: We all have a huge pride in the Welsh rock music scene as well, with bands in Wales like Funeral For a Friend, Blackout, Bullet for my Valentine and Neck Deep really making a difference to the scene. It’s so crazy to think of the success Neck Deep have had – that one of the biggest pop-punk sensation in the world is coming from Wrexham!
Well Wrexham does produce only the best – It’s my hometown! So, who is in charge of making music, how does it work?
Si: We all give our “touch” to the songs, but Matt is the main “machine” for that.
Matt: What usually happens is that I come up with the skeleton of the song, or the main idea which doesn’t become a Junior song until all three of us give it the unique touch. That’s exactly when all the individual ideas from all the different things we mentioned a few moments ago that inspire us to come together as a whole.
Si: I am very influenced by bands like Brand New and got a lot of great stuff from them, like rhythmic drum parts which I always like to fit into our songs.
Matt: We like to get the patterns of different musical textures from all kinds of bands. When we first started, it was very easy to fall into the pop-mold just because everyone was doing it at the time. We weren’t satisfied with that kind of sound and therefore decided to try something different.
Mark: Si is also very conscious about rhythms and so his drum parts play a huge role in the process of making new stuff
Where have you travelled with the band?
Si: Well, we’ve done the UK numerous times and we did Canada at the end of 2017 which was a lot of fun. But, as strange as it might seem, we’ve never been to the rest of Europe with Junior and we’d like to do it – so it’s on the roadmap for this year definitely…
Do you get much support here in Wales?
Matt: We are friends with a lot of amazing Welsh artists and I’ve really began to feel the value of our backgrounds after realising that the thing connecting us is not our genre, but the fact that we’re Welsh.
Si: As I mentioned, I wasn’t born in Wales, but ever since I was a little kid I’ve wanted to be a part of the Welsh music scene, mostly because a lot of the bands I was looking up to from a very young age were from Wales. I also reckon how I was sure that, since Wales had so many amazing musicians, they must all know each other since I considered Wales to be a really small place before moving here!
The best thing about Cardiff, in particular, is that it’s the smallest big city you’ll ever be in – it’s like a London condensed but without the intenseness, crowd and business.
Do you have any advice for someone starting out?
If there are some kids out there striving to become like Junior, I want to tell you that you shouldn’t follow the route that we did. I also want you to make sure that you have fun with the music – that’s the most important thing. Make sure you’re branded and that your idea is strong from the beginning – make sure that everything is ready to go before you make it public. Picking out a name is also a big thing to think about before you start!
So what’s your favourite place to play, both inside Wales and outside Wales?
Matt: Well, Cardiff is – after all – our hometown so we always feel this special vibe everytime we perform here. We’d have to say Clwb Ifor Bach as they get such a great range of artists and crowds there!
Si: I also have to mention how Undertone in Cardiff was so good to us from the moment we started out. I mean we’ve shot music videos there, we’ve done some insane gigs there – It’s been awesome. It’s also incredible that all of the bands we grew up with and were influenced by came through Undertone and played there.
Matt: And outside the UK, Cherry Colas in Toronto. Toronto is incredible, it was really nice and quite different from the feeling we get when we perform in the UK.
Mark: Of course we have to give a shout out to Download Festival as well!
Well a big thank you to the Junior lads for taking the time to chat to us, and if you want to check them out, you can find them on their website www.musicofjunior.co.uk and on Facebook and Instagram.
And if this article has got you in the mood for music, Clwb Ifor Bach is running a special night in London at the Lexington for Wales Week in London tonight – which Wales International have been invited to. Hope to see you there!