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A Dirty Dozen with JON ELMALEH from NAPOLEON – June 2022

| 17 June 2022 | Reply

According to a recent press release: “Based in Toronto ON, Alt-Punk four-piece ​Napoleon​ has been attracting attention from fans and media alike within their local Toronto scene since they formed in early 2018. The band has managed to develop an impressive resume in the short period of time they have been active, performing alongside bands such as Like Pacific and Single Mothers just to name a couple, and collaborating with members of fellow Canadian bands such as Silverstein, The Dirty Nil and Rarity.” We get lead singer / guitarist Jon to discuss new music, influences, and more…

1. Tell us a little about your latest release. What might a fan or listener not grab the first or second time they listen through? Are there any hidden nuggets you put in the material or that only diehard fans might find?

“Fullsize Problem” is definitely our heaviest song, I remember when I brought it to Scott, who both produced the song and has been managing the band for the last couple years, he asked me if I was sure that doing what is essentially a full on hardcore song is a good idea, and I said “absolutely, nows the time”…I also think that this song bears a lot of meaning to all the members of the band because it deals with things that we all had to go through together. This is the first Napoleon song where the lyrics mean something to all of us.

2. What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a musician?

I can’t really pinpoint an exact moment where I decided I wanted to be a musician but growing up I was always around music. As I got into high school I became more and more inspired by the punk/post-hardcore bands that came from Toronto and Southern Ontario, bands like PUP, The Dirty Nil, Single Mothers, and even the bigger/more obvious ones like Alexisonfire or Billy Talent. It was cool to me to see that people that came from the same place as me were able to make it, and made me believe that I could do it myself.

3. Building on that, is there a specific song, album, performer, or live show that guided your musical taste?

The band that got me into more “aggressive” music was Billy Talent, I remember seeing them live for the first time at this festival in Brantford, ON, and the crowd was so rowdy that they managed to push the barricade at the front down, and I just thought that was the coolest thing ever, and now my goal is to incite that kind of chaos with Napoleon.

4. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a song with, who would it be, and why?

I’ve actually thought this through many times, but my dream collaboration is not just one person, but 3. My favorite band ever is Alexisonfire, so my ultimate collaboration would be to have their 3 vocalists, Dallas Green, George Pettit, and Wade MacNeil sing together on a Napoleon song.

5. What is your favorite activity when out of the studio and/or not on tour? What do you like to do to unwind?

Seems like a kinda obvious answer but I’m a massive music fan, so I really like to go to shows around Toronto, listen to new records, etc. I’m honestly not really into anything else like movies, video games, books, etc.

6. How would you describe your music to someone who’d never listened to you before? What is the one comparison a reviewer or fan has made that made you cringe or you disagreed with?

I think Napoleon crosses many different genre lines. We kinda sit in between many different places I find (or maybe I’m just full of myself haha) but I remember back when we were releasing Enemy Within, a close friend of the band told me that our song “Can’t Forget” reminded them of the band Hoobastank, and I was not really offended, but very confused haha.

7. When your band is hanging out together, who cooks, who gets the drinks in, and who is first to crack out the acoustic guitars for a singalong?

Michael (bass) is definitely the best cook in the band, I’ll even go as far as to say that only capable one. But this question is kind of funny because Michael is always saying that I have a tendency to start drinking and finding the nearest guitar at any given point, so I guess that’s your answer haha.

8. When was the last time you were starstruck and who was it?

To be honest, at this point I don’t really get “starstruck” anymore. I’ve gotten to meet a large chunk of the bands that I’ve looked up to, and I guess I’ve kinda gotten used to it now. Everyone has always been super chill and super nice, and as cliche as it is to say, I guess I realized we’re kinda just the same at the end of the day, and I can admire their work, without obsessing over them as people if that makes sense.

9. What is the best part of being a musician? If you could no longer be a musician for whatever reason, what would be your dream job?

I honestly have no clue what my dream job would be, but my favorite part about being in Napoleon is interacting with people before/after shows. Being able to connect with people who appreciate what you’re doing is really quite special. We just wrapped up a 2 week Canadian tour, and we played a show in Quebec City and most of the people there only speak French, no English, and it was cool to see them trying to express how they felt about our music, still buying merch and talking to us even with the language barrier.

10. What is one question you have always wanted an interviewer to ask – and what is the answer? Conversely, what question are you tired of answering?

I don’t really have any wishlist type questions, but there are quite a few that I hate answering… anything along the lines of “what are your favorite bands?” “what band most inspired you?” or my absolute least favorite “what kind of music do you play?” I get why those questions are asked, its just that they literally come up every single time haha.

11. Looking back over your career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over,” even if it didn’t change your current situation?

Not really, even the “bad things” that happen to us I just view as learning experiences. I don’t think we have ever made a mistake that was so bad I wish it could be undone. Sometimes I wish we had more music out, just so we could vary our setlists more, but at the same time, I wasn’t confident in our ability to start recording professionally until we did.

12. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording sessions for any one record in history, which would you choose – and what does that record mean to you?

I know this doesn’t really answer the question, but really any bands debut record. I think it would be interesting to see a band that would soon “blow up” kind of figure out how to make a record for the first time, and see the “magic” happen.






Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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