One October, a few years ago, I was bored in my home town of Vancouver, Canada. So I decided to see a random show with a friend, it was a fundraiser for Women Against Violence Against Women (photos of the show here). Three bands that I had no idea what they were like – Thee Ahs, Artinair, and the Oh Wells. Though all three bands were pretty good (Thee Ahs were killer the next time I saw them), I was particularly impressed by the Oh Wells and notably their front-woman, Sarah Jickling. She ran up to the stage from the back of the Biltmore Cabaret and gave one of the more charming energetic shows of my 2011. Ms Jickling was selling cupcakes for $3 at the show.
In the time since that October night of 2011, the Oh Wells have had a cross-country tour, a lineup change and all. They have a new EP out, “Roll With the Punches”. The new EP is more mature, more complex and it’s obvious Jickling has improved as a songwriter. WRGW caught up with her and she’s agreed to answer 9 questions from us.
1. You guys have released a new EP called Roll with the Punches. How’s the reception so far?
Roll with the Punches has been doing well! First of all, the creation of this EP was an incredible learning experience for me, so no matter what kind of reception this record gets, I’m glad I made it just to learn more about the process of recording an EP in a real studio with a professional producer. The first track, Tightrope, got a spin on a radio station all the way over in Scotland the other day, which makes me extremely happy!
2. It’s certainly different from your first EP “Not that Girl from Transformers”. What are the changes?
There are a lot of things that have changed since “Not that Girl from Transformers”… namely me. The songs I write for The Oh Wells are basically diary entries with melodies, so of course they change as my experiences change. I wrote the songs for the first EP when I was 17-18, so they focus more on boys, school, crushes, etc. I wrote Roll with the Punches at the age of 20-21… right around the time I dropped out of university, was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and Panic Disorder, and really began focusing on my music career. Those experiences just didn’t fit the ukulele and glockenspiel sound. Another thing that has changed since “Not that Girl from Transformers” is the rest of the band! I am the only original member of The Oh Wells… all my highschool friends left the band a long time ago. New players bring in new sounds. Everyone who plays music with me leaves their own mark on my songs.
3. How’s the Vancouver Music Scene in your opinion?
I love the Vancouver Music Scene… it’s a great community full of talented and friendly people. I also think that the alternative radio stations in Vancouver like 102.7 The PEAK and 104.3 the Shore really help to support the scene. Vancouver gets called the “No Fun City”, but I think that has a lot to do with the high cost of living here. Everyone is working non-stop in order to make rent AND plan their next tour. So yeah, sometimes we get tired and go to bed early.
4. I used to remember seeing you bring cupcakes to shows and selling or giving them to people at the show. Any reason why?
Yes! When I was in high school, my best friend and I started a tradition we called “Woohoo Wednesdays” to spice up our boring school week. Every Wednesday, we would pick a theme… then we would make themed cupcakes, come to school in costumes, and give out cupcakes to everyone who wanted one. So of course, when we started a band together, our logo was a cupcake. My high school friend is no longer in the band, but sometimes I like to carry on the tradition.
5. DC is a big cupcakes town, so a major question is, what’s your favourite cupcake?
Zucchini Raisin cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing and a strawberry on top. (From Nelson The Seagull in Gastown)
6. Describe your dream first date.
We sing a duet at a Karaoke bar, then we get soft pretzels and lemonade and eat them on the beach in the dark.
7. How was going on your first cross country tour? It was helped via crowd-sourcing, how was that experience?
My first cross country tour was a great learning experience, complete with a tour van engine troubles and an inter-band love triangle. I was completely terrified and having the time of my life, all at once. I loved meeting musicians and fans from across the country, and I loved getting to be a musician 24-7 for six weeks. I’ll be heading back out on the road this August… and I’m pretty certain this time the tour will be love-triangle free. I’ve got a great group of people with me… none of whom I’m secretly in love with. As for the crowd-sourcing, I’m so grateful for everyone who helped us out. Asking people for help felt really weird… so I was really amazed that people were actually willing to support us.
8. Any plans for the future?
So many plans. Most of them involve raising awareness for mental illness. I’m currently working on a zine about distress coping skills with my graphic designer friend Stephanie McDonell, and we will be selling it on our summer tour to raise funds for the Mood Disorders Association of BC’s campaign “Stomp the Stigma”. I’m hoping to start working on a full length album in the fall.
9. This is a question we do for all bands, but if you could tour with any band (dead or alive or dormant), who would you tour with?
I would love to tour with Amanda Palmer. She is a huge inspiration for me, and I think she could teach me a lot about being a kick-ass DIY indie musician.
For more on her music, her bandcamp is http://theohwells.bandcamp.com/