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Interview: Burlington's Boys Cruise Crank it up to Eleven on Fiery Sophomore Effort

Already established in the Burlington indie scene, surf punk rockers Boys Cruise switch up their sound on their new self-titled sophomore album. Their tireless pace, catchy melodies and rugged production keep fans on the edge of their seats for the trio's next move.

Photo by Sof Antoniotti

Hailing from Burlington, Vermont, Boys Cruise have been tearing up the University of Vermont college rock scene with their chaotic live shows since their debut EP back in 2018. Their energy explodes through their studio releases and it's hard not to move a bit when listening. Earlier this month, the band released their self-titled sophomore LP, the follow up to their 2019 debut Jerry.


Over the past two years, the band's lineup changed from a quartet to now a trio, keeping just two of its original members. The trio, which features frontman and guitarist Johnny Clarke, bassist Jack Parker and drummer Sammy Josh, honed in on a redefined sound on their latest effort, incorporating new styles such as jangle pop. The album burns with the same fire as their debut, but with an added air of a band that knows a bit more about what they’re doing. We spoke to the band, who told us about the creation process of the album.

Compared to their first album and prior EP, Boys Cruise recognized a notable improvement when it came to aiming towards a certain goal. With three members instead of four, they found themselves experimenting more than ever before.


"A profound lack of thought went into our previous releases, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but this time around we definitely had a clear vision of what we wanted the final product to sound like," the band said. "With the current iteration of us being so minimal, there was an inherent visceral feel to these songs that we wanted to capture in the studio. There was a much more conscious effort to make something outside of the norm and to contrast super melodic songs with abrasive noise and heavy production."


For this album, the band drew on groups like Japanese pop duo Flipper's Guitar, as well as classic indie rock bands like the Unicorns and Built to Spill for inspiration. They sought to channel intense dynamics and "super in-your-face, nasty garage rock." They pride themselves on their DIY ethos and rough production style with loud, organic drums and vintage-style distorted vocals, which producer Zach Bloomstein helped them achieve. They studied the production of early 2000's garage band Coachwhips, Epsilons-era Ty Segall and King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard's 12 Bar Bruise. However, the band were charmingly vague about the intricacies of their studio methodology.


"While we can't give the Boys Cruise secret sauce to the public, we focused on tone way more in the studio than any of us were expecting," the band said. "The actual details would probably bore somebody to death, but we spent entire days just messing around with pedals and seeing how abrasive we could make the album sound. The most used word in the studio was probably 'more.' We just wanted more of everything. Push it all into the red."

When it comes to songwriting, Boys Cruise found that pressure makes perfect. By setting deadlines and booking studio time before they were finished writing, they kept themselves busy and prevented any over-dwelling on any tracks. Each member of the band brings song ideas to be jammed out until fully formed and bursting at the seams.


"It's pretty much just a combination of that emotional urge and treating music like work. In our personal case, overthinking kills creativity," the band said. "By putting an immense amount of pressure on ourselves, we’re able to write from that fight-or-flight mindset."


Finally satisfied with their sound and lineup, Boys Cruise glow with pride for how the final product turned out, and deservedly so. The tracklist is packed with gritty rawness that hits you in all the right spots and pop sensibility that will have you singing along by the end of any given song.


"We feel like the current incarnation of Boys Cruise is the most powerful and lean one to date," the band said. With all of the naysayers gone, we were able to really move and experiment when we were in the studio. In general, the vibe was much more intense and open-minded. In our minds, this is an album of pop songs at its core. We wanted to push the limits of how overblown we could present the music without turning everyone off."


Boys Cruise leaves their listeners with three bits of advice: "Open your mind and you'll be a winner. Expect the same thing from Boys Cruise and you'll probably be disappointed. Live FAST and HARD."


Boys Cruise is out now via Stick n' Move Records


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