Interview: Eric Jablonski of Territories Talks ‘Colder Now’

The Canadian punk band Territories always stressed quality over quantity when it came to their music, but admit they had not planned to let half a decade elapse between their last LP and its follow up. Life just happened to get in the way. Their guitarist and co-founder Jimmy James passed the torch onto new lead guitarist Mike Longfield and as the band were getting him up to speed on Territories catalogue, the global pandemic hit.

The covid pandemic was long and the lockdowns and stay-at-home orders in Canada were rigid and protracted,” said drummer and band co-founder Eric Jablonski. “During the lost months of the pandemic, we were able to exchange new song ideas and managed to keep some creative juices flowing with Zoom. In June of 2020 we released the When the Day is Done EP which seemed like a great idea at the time to give people something to listen to during such a depressing time.”

That EP featured the song “Lockdown,” which had nothing to do with Covid and ended up needing a lot of explanation. When the band could all finally get back in the jam space, they had a new batch of songs ready to go and hit the studio again in November 2022 with Jesse Gander at Rain City Recorders in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  The result is their latest full length, Colder Now, out now on Pirates Press Records. The album is smart, tight melodic punk rock not unlike some of the band’s big musical influences like The Clash, Bad Religion, and Stiff Little Fingers. And Jablonski is quick to fess up to those influences but also admits to liking an impressively wide variety of music. “I’m a new music junky and compile an extensive best of the year album list where the genres are quite diverse spanning from punk, garage and metal to some folk, country, jazz, pop, and even rap.”

Although the band’s sound has evolved a bit since their founding in 2015 out of the ashes of Knucklehead, the core principles are still the same. “The ethos of the band has not changed,” says Jablonski. “We continue to prioritize quality over quantity when it comes to developing songs. We continue to strive to play catchy punk rock tunes and put forth thought-provoking and emotionally charged messages with our lyrics.”

As a result of not only the lineup change in the band but in their evolving style and influences, Colder Now is their most diverse album yet. “We start by writing songs that keep us engaged and if we keep coming back for more then usually we know that we are on to something positive,” he explains. “I don’t think that the diversity of songs was intentional but again, first and foremost we made these songs to impress ourselves and we like the fast poppy ones and the mid-tempo sing-alongs and the rock jams. Quality songs is the enduring theme.”

Among some of the strongest tracks on this record that fit into both the fast poppy and mid-tempo sing-along categories are the tracks “Superhero,” about all the evolution of social media and how every individual with Internet has been gifted a personal soapbox to spew their lies, half-truths, unverified facts and passionate opinions; and “The Company,” about loyal employees losing jobs when an industry goes through a downturn. “Kyle (Hegel (singer/guitar) is our wordsmith, and he has a great way of tackling big picture social issues as well as exposing more personal and emotional themes that people seem to really resonate with,” Jablonski said. “I have always really admired his ability to consistently write songs that people all over the globe gravitate and can relate to.”

The band has already been playing songs from the new album in Canada, but fans a little further South can expect to see Territories tearing through these songs live soon as well.   “We are hoping to play some shows in the U.S. in the coming year,” he says. “Visas for touring the states from Canada are mucho expensive but we are trying to sort it out and hope to come down. We would love to play Punk Rock Bowling! We are hoping to do a trip to Europe in the next year as well. Trying to sort out logistics currently.”

You can order Colder Now directly from Pirates Press Records. Follow Territories on Facebook and Instagram for future updates.

Photo courtesy of Shane Rempel.

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