(Wavelength #2) Two Punk Bros Rocking Funny 
and Self-Deprecating from their Garage

Wavelength #2: How life can be funny and tough - The Awkward Years, Punk band, Nyctophilliacs
Photo-interviewer: Jacqueline Lee

IMG_2309.jpg

(Gerry, vocals + guitar – left brain metronome guy) (Ryan, drummer – right brain soul jammer)


Who: Gerry and Ryan, best buds since high school who love to game and skateboard together. Gerry does vocals, guitar and final mixes, while Ryan drums to his heart.

Style: Pop punk, experimental

Their roots: Scarborough, where they met through a neighborhood park and spend their summers chilling and jamming at Gerry’s house

Their Wavelength: Sure, they want a lambo, a big house, maybe a submarine, but having an awesome time and making music they dig with their best bud comes first. They’re relating to kids like them with doubts to just go for it.

Criminal Quirk: Neighbourhood graffiti, look out for their rocket ship!

Whats the New Wave to them: It’s all about having fun creating and breaking the rules when they need to. They’re not afraid to move beyond this style, and reinventing themselves every album.


IMG_2510.jpg

Ryan and Gerry are best friends who do everything together. They love to freestyle jam and pump people up, so their songs have loads of energy. Their lyrics are funny and pulls on your childhood nostalgia heartstrings, with the overlooked, relatable things in life. You know, like having skinny arms and how hard it is to make new friends. Gerry’s does vocals and guitar. Even though he’s louder and says crazier things, he's the one who loves the metronome and making everything perfect. Ryan is on drums and gives off more of a chill vibe, but he’s the one to play to his heart and speed up a song just because he feels like it.

At first I had it in my head we can’t just change the tempo, but Ryan just said YES you can. That’s when I realized we can do whatever we want.
— Gerry
I told Gerald we’re not experimenting enough, so then I said let’s turn off the lights in the basement. We played in pitch black and our creativity just poured out everywhere with all these different beats. It was amazing.
— Ryan

When Gerry and Ryan bring their superpowers together, they're unstoppable. Since they’re so different you’d expect them to butt heads, but with Ryan and Gerry it just works. If one of them likes something, they don’t fight back but just build on it and experiment. They have had some serious wars over Super Smash Bros though, because getting into a video game can feel like life or death. (Readers, if you aren’t jealous of this epic bromance than I envy you.)

Origin story: Bonding over yo mama jokes

This is the bro matchmaking park that brought them together in grade seven when they were going to different elementary schools. On that fateful day, Ryan was cruising on his skateboard by himself and he ended up going to the park. There, a group of Gerry’s friends asked him to hang out. Ryan was so happy he bought them all pizza afterwards at a place down the block. He remembers getting ten different dipping sauce and regretting it because they were just throwing it around. The next time they hung out, Gerry was there and they hit it off with a bunch of yo mama jokes (which they refuse to repeat for me to hear).

Two years later, they went to the same high school just down the street from Gerry’s house.

The rough patch to here: An emo phase and a year off

Later on in our chat, Ryan confesses the reason he got Gerry’s friends a pizza was because he felt like he didn’t have much friends at his school. He just moved from New York, and felt like everyone started early and he was a whole chapter behind. Because of that, he kept beating himself up and kept his distance. He continued to say he didn’t really have friends in high school, when Gerry cuts him off.

I thought it was really hard to make friends in high school…
— Ryan
What do you mean?! We were already friends!!
— Gerry

That’s when Ryan shares his younger self’s friendship ideology, which was like the 90s movies with the dream squad. He wanted the nerd kid, the one guy who worries too much, the hustler with the genius plans, the female friend who’d become the plot twist and for everybody’s personalities to build an epic group.
That’s right, his inspiration is Disneys Recess and the Breakfast Club.

Basically, the people he wanted to hang out with and create a crew with the utopia of friendships, but it never really worked. He didn’t appreciate his actual friends and the people there for him. In grade eleven or twelve, he got more into music with Gerry and realized who would always be on his side. He was trying to be someone he wasn’t and that’s something he’ll never do again in his music and in life.

For Gerry, after high school he wasn’t ready to choose what he would get into so he took a year off and worked. While he saw all the pictures of his friends at school making new friends while he was at home or at work, not making new friends. This became the premise of their song Year Off from their EP VHS Therapy.

I think the song is interesting because it’s the first time Gerald opened up about a sad moment. It was the day I went off to college and Gerry took a year off.
— Ryan on Year Off

Its so, its so
hard to make new friends
I just, I just
Collect dust in my room

 

High Jinks: Jam sessions and Adventures

It’s so painful to work with someone you don’t enjoy working with. We’ve been best friends for so long, we can get mad at each other over something dumb but we get over it pretty quick.
— Gerry

These bros are here to have fun, but they also have a schedule. Every Tuesday and Thursday, they get together for practices when they freestyle jam for an hour with their ears sharp for a potential song. If they pick something up, they spend the next hour bringing the baby to life. If nothing strikes a chord, no sweat. These musical parents have about twenty growing songs in the works they’ve already written. After that, they work on things outside of their music, like setting up their website, spray painting their rocketship in the neighbourhood or making the infomercial for VHS therapy.

Gerry chose Humber, not only because it didn’t require a portfolio but also to learn advertising for his music. He’s the creative star behind all the graphics and video editing. He pitched the infomercial idea, and Ryan was on board. They brought in their friend John to play the doctor and snuck into a U of T lecture hall to make the magic happen.

I loved the Doctor part. We were walking to U of T with mics and we were like we’re gonna do some bad shit today.
— Ryan on VHS Therapy Infomercial

This summer, they’re really focusing on their music, getting into shows and getting their sound out there.

The Come-up Years: What’s next?

To Ryan, music is about leaving a legacy and what his trademark is before he dies. There’s kids out there just like them going through struggles in life, and he wants to motivate people to do what they love. Their music is something that’s really all him, from him and his best friend and inspired by everything they are. When they made VHS therapy, they had those moments of being frustrated but when they actually sat down and listened to their EP, they were astounded they made something so raw and real to them.

Some songs are scared to open up a little too much, and this song for our band is telling the raw story of how we really really feel when we’re sad or lonely or going through something.
— Ryan

Gerry wants the lambo and the big house, but for real, he just wants to have a career in music. He wants their music to take them all around the world. Every album they put out, he wants them to reinvent themselves. He’s had times where he didn’t talk about The Awkward Years in crowds that would think punk is dying, he’s loud and proud about his band now. It’s his style and he’ll embrace it.

 

A lot of bands want to make it. I just want to make music.
— Gerry

Check out The Awkward Years’ music, videos and more at https://www.theawkwardyearsband.com/ and https://theawkwardyears.bandcamp.com/