It’s understandable how hearing a band get described as “pop-punk” might trigger one’s gag reflex. But Toronto’s Excuses Excuses are aiming to empower the term once again simply by writing songs that contain messages they believe their generation badly needs to hear.
It’s all in keeping with their new sophomore EP Catch Me If You Can, which marks a coming of age of sorts for the trio comprised of guitarist/vocalist Kyle Wilton, bassist Trevor Bowman, and drummer Jason Nicoll, as—having left their teenage years behind—the band delves into more complicated lyrical themes and, by extension, an overall harder-hitting sound. Recorded at Chalet Studio north of Toronto with producer Justin Meli, the EP’s six songs took shape around Nicoll assuming a full-time role in the band and represent the first true examples of Excuses Excuses’ uncanny ability to balance raw power with impeccable melodicism.
“There was a lot of learning, adjusting, and evolving occurring since our first EP,” Kyle Wilton says. “Trevor and I have been writing songs together since we were 15, so we naturally share similar influences. Jason’s influences added a bit more classic rock flavor to the mix, and we were also greatly inspired by the bands we’ve played with. The bottom line is we wanted our new material to sound more powerful, and more versatile at the same time.”
While each song on Catch Me If You Can contains deeply personal reflections on the state of the world, “Rebel Without a Clue” and the title track best represent the EP’s overarching message of empowering members of their generation to find their own path rather than following society’s norms. As Wilton explains, “The song ‘Catch Me If You Can’ is a commentary between a soul-seeking character and their own conscience, contemplating life changes, mental illness, drug abuse, and the uncertainty that revolves around becoming adults in today’s restrictive society.” Once completed, the band instinctively knew the song would best represent the EP as a whole, as the character ultimately finds the strength to overcome their fears.
Similarly, “Rebel Without a Clue” mixes a modern love story with the passion and determination it takes to find a clear direction on life’s journey. Although for some the song’s title may recall a famous Tom Petty lyric, the band felt it best expressed the message they wanted to get across that uncertainty goes hand in hand with taking control of your life, and the sooner you accept that fact, the better. But on a more practical level, it’s Excuses Excuses’ attempt at writing pop music, even though—not surprisingly—it turned out inherently gritty.
Indeed, although there has been much hand-wringing about the decline of the electric guitar within the overall music scene, Excuses Excuses are eager to join the ranks of Canadian bands such as July Talk, PUP, and the Dirty Nil proudly cranking it up to 11 on the international stage. Catch Me If You Can is their entry into that conversation, and now that they are on their way, there will be no looking back.