FanClubWallet’s music has an unassuming charm which is impossible not to instantly love. That’s why on the back of only a debut EP, a few singles, and one pre-covid live show, the lo-fi indie-rock band has already racked up millions of streams and a nine-stop tour around North America opening for Fleece. Hits like Car Crash in G Major, C’mon Be Cool, and That I Won’t Do have a nonchalant vocal delivery and easygoing mix of acoustic and electric that makes you feel like the main character of an indie film where life’s a bit messy but really not all that bad – just too cool. We caught up with FanClubWallet mastermind Hannah Judge and her two bandmates, Michael and Eric, to talk about being artistically multi-talented, championing shitty gear, and their upcoming debut album!
Melodic Magazine: I’ve heard you say that you played your first show ever right before COVID shut everything down. Was that your first time ever performing on stage?
Hannah: I had done one show with my other band, but it was a basement house show. So I guess the first FanClubWallet show was the first real show on a stage. And I feel like I was pretty nervous for it. We did it super last minute and we only had like a week to prepare. And I was like, we don’t even have any songs out, this is insane.
So this is your first tour!
Hannah Judge: Yeah, this is the first one. I went on tour as a photographer with Bear Band once. But that’s about it.
How did you first get into music? And what was the first thing that got you excited about it?
Hannah: That’s a good question. I feel like I’ve always really liked music. I always spent a lot of time online searching for new stuff to show my friends and making CDs for everyone.
How old were you?
Hannah: Ten or eleven. I was downloading the Birp monthly playlists, like zip files of shit.
And burning them onto CD’s? You must have been the coolest friend.
Hannah: I’d listen to them in the shower and be very angsty. But then in high school, I started to actually go out to shows and I was like, this is so cool, I want to get involved, but I didn’t think that I was gonna do music. I just thought I was gonna help other people.
What was the first instrument that you picked up?
Hannah: I took guitar lessons when I was like 12, but I really did not like going to them. And then I quit and I learned the ukulele. I got like, annoyingly good at the ukulele and then went back to guitar.
You mentioned that you didn’t think you’d get into music and from what I’ve seen you have a wide range of creative interests: you’re a visual artist, you’ve done tour photography, you have even mentioned you were considering picking theatre as your major at your arts high school. How does FanClubWallet fit into your creative persona?
Hannah: Oh, that’s a really good question. I feel like I always made music kinda secretly, but I didn’t think it would ever become a thing I would do or show to anyone.
If you’re just meeting someone and they ask “what do you do?”, what do you say?
Hannah: I guess I would be like, I’m a musician. Because that’s what I’m doing the most and what I like doing the most. I like doing cartoons and I like doing comics and stuff, but at the end of the day, if I’m really depressed or something and I read a good comic that doesn’t get me out of bed. But if I see a really cool live video or hear a really awesome new song, I’m like, I have to call [FanClubWallet drummer and producer] Michael and make them listen to the song. I have to get up and do a music thing.
So you didn’t expect to be in music, but the passion is there and it makes sense that you are where you are.
Hannah: Exactly. You said it best.
How do music and art fulfill you differently? What do you get out of music that you don’t get out of art and vice versa?
Hannah: I feel like in music I can be a lot more vague about stuff. Like if I make a comic about something the topic I’m talking about is generally pretty specific. But if I’m doing music, I feel like a lot of different people can relate to it and in a lot of different ways. Maybe someone will hear a song and they’ll be like, this makes me feel like this about a thing that happened in my life, but it won’t be what the song was about. I like being able to, I guess, express my emotions in a more vague way.
You released the Hurt Is Boring EP and now you’re on tour because so many people are reacting to it positively. Do you think you’d be somewhere else if there wasn’t such a huge reaction to FanClubWallet?
Hannah: I think I’d still be doing music and still playing shows but probably not where we’re going, like I wouldn’t be going to Chicago or New York or anything. I think I would just keep enjoying doing it on the down low.
I want to get into the EP, Hurt Is Boring. You named it after the song “Hurt Is Boring.” What about that song made you want to title the EP after it?
Hannah: I think that was kind of just the vibe of all the songs. When I wrote Hurt Is Boring, I was thinking a lot about how I was feeling, and being happy and sad and happy and sad and just that when you’re really happy sometimes you want messed up stuff to happen because it’s exciting and vice versa. The last line in the song is just about how they’re both kind of the exact same thing. You’re like, the grass is always greener on the other side. And I think that’s – I write a lot about stuff that I’m sad about, but it’s not necessarily exciting or new. Just kind of talking about the same old stuff over and over again. Like beating a dead horse.
Were all the songs written in the same sort of time period?
Hannah: It was all written within, kind of like, a year and a half.
How about the new single, “That I Won’t Do,” is that from the same time period or later?
Hannah: That was later. I wrote that this summer like six months after the EP came out. A bunch of songs were written in Montreal this summer. There’s gonna be an album and a bunch of the songs got written over the summer.
You talk a lot about finding inexpensive instruments and finding cool DIY ways to do things. If someone gave you a million dollars do you think that would change the sound of FanClubWallet at all?
Hannah: No, because I feel like even now I have more money. And I like refuse–
Eric: I was going to say we went to a real studio. It didn’t really change the sound but it definitely helped us craft it.
Hannah: I wanted to go to Port William though because it’s local.
Is that a studio?
Hannah: Yeah, it’s a studio in Frontenac. Which was so cool. The coolest thing ever.
Michael: I think just having access like, a baby grand piano and stuff, that’s probably the biggest difference.
Hannah: I don’t think I’d go out and buy like… I’m trying to think of an expensive piece of gear. I feel like we have some more money now and I’m like, I won’t buy a new guitar. My $100 guitar is fine, that’s good.
Michael: You’re kind of like a shitty gear elitist honestly.
Hannah: Yeah I guess so.
What’s your worst piece of equipment?
Hannah: Probably my guitar. The strings haven’t been changed in three years. Eric was just saying playing it is like trying to fight a dog.
Does it make any appearances on your recordings?
Hannah: Oh, yes. It’s everywhere.
Is the shitty guitar on tour?
And are you gonna play it?
Amazing. I’m gonna keep an eye out for that.
Hannah: Yeah, it’s just a guitar I got second hand. And then I’m real crap about changing strings.
Yeah, it’s a whole ordeal. And you can always put it off.
Hannah: Exactly. Yeah, it feels like it would be really wrong to change at this point. They’re lucky.
That’s a good way to spin it. Well, I was gonna ask about what’s next, but we already got the exclusive about the album!
Hannah: What’s next? An Album!
How are you feeling about the new songs?
Hannah: I’m feeling good about them. I feel like they’re a little weirder.
Michael: I just feel like they’re more you.
Hannah: Yeah. I feel like before I was like, ahhh, what’s going on?
What makes them more you?
Hannah: I think there was a lot of pressure before because I was new to music and suddenly I was getting attention. And then I was like, oh no, the songs have to sound good and I want everyone to like me and I want them to be palatable. And now I’m like, I don’t care as much. There are still some palatable moments.
Michael: There’s still some stuff where we’re like oh we gotta make a hit.
Hannah: Yeah, I love to make a hit. But I got to put on some weirder, less structured stuff.
Michael: It’s really true to you. Your inspirations really shine through.
Hannah: Yes. What they said.
Interview by Zoe Orion + photos by Evie Maynes