out of the muck

The zoom call starts, and as is usual for technology, there’s a hiccup. The sound isn’t working for some reason. Across the digital mirror there is a warmly lit room with instruments framing the back. Smiley faces going through stages of mitosis are painted across the wall, and four smiling faces making gestures back and forth — switching devices, laughing together at the misfortune of it all. Once the sound finally pulls itself together, friendly laughter and familiarity floods the room.


Cora: Alright so, can you do a roster run-off for me?

Heather: My name is Heather and I use she/her.

Jono: My name is Jono, I use he/him.

Brie: My name is Brie, she/her.

Ralph: I’m Ralph, I’m he/him.


Cora: So tell me, how did y’all start? What’s the story?

Jono: Well, Ralph and I have known each other since middle school, but we didn’t start playing music together until just after high school. We were always trying to get a band going, but it never really panned out. It was always just me and him writing songs, going back and forth. Ralph actually worked with Brie, and that’s how we got that connection in there. Ralph invited Brie to a party, and we all bonded over punk music and —

Brie: And medications.

Jono: (laughing) Yeah, what antidepressants we all take. And we were like, “we should start a band!” That classic party thing.

Brie: “Yeah, man, we’ll totally start a band.”

Jono: It was Ralph who got the group chat going, and we’re like “okay, might as well make this a thing.” So we started in my basement, and we just got together every week, none of us had any high-end gear, we would just play covers of songs we liked. Then we would write one or two songs, and all of us had a really good feeling about it, so we just kept going.

Brie: Yeah, right away we felt really good about it. I think we wrote a song on the first day of practice — and it’s on our EP.


Cora: I love that you got together and immediately made a song, big powerful energy on that one, tell me about that. 

Brie: So we had a couple bands in common that we covered, but right away we were like, “we’re not going to be a cover band,” so we had to break the habit. We played two Fidlar, songs, and they made me play —

Jono: — (laughing) We tried to do a Smith’s cover.

Brie: The first day,  they were like “do you know the Smith’s?” so I looked up a tab and played along.

Jono: And we all were like, “this isn’t the vibe for us.”

Brie: No shade towards the Smiths.

Ralph: But all shade towards Morrissey.

Brie: We started writing music from then on. And I wasn’t even going to go to the party we all met at, I was at home watching Benjamin Button. I could have stayed in, but I went, and now we’re here. Heather joined in 2020. We had our original drummer, Trevor, for about a year, but we had no drummer for way longer than we should have.

Jono: Yeah, we were just practicing the crap out of our songs with two guitars and a bass player. I was doing vocals and we were just going to keep jamming like this until we found a drummer. 

Brie: Trevor went in a different direction, but Heather was an immediate puzzle piece.

Jono: Yeah, perfect fit, could not have been more of a perfect fit. 

Brie: Right away our personalities worked well together. We’re such a mushy band, how do I put it …

Jono: We’re not assholes to each other.

Brie: We say “I love you” constantly, we hug all the time. We’re not here to be cool and not care about each other. 

Jono: We’re not rock jerks. Every practice we always check in on each other, and if someone’s having a rough day we’ll talk about it. We’ll ask each other, are we ready to play? What kind of practice do we want to have today? What do we have the capacity to get done today? 

Brie: Yeah, we’re very open and we love each other very much. There’s no bullshit like playing together then not speaking to each other for months on end. We talk constantly.

Cora: Caring in the face of a culture that does not believe in care is a punk thing to do.

Brie: It sounds so cliche, but caring is so fucking punk. You see posters like “no sexism, no homophobia” that’s caring. Or shouting about bullshit that makes you upset about the world — that’s a lot of care. Whatever. Being nice is punk.


Cora: So tell me about the first song that had all of you together.

Brie: We have an EP coming out soon… at the end of the year or beginning of next year.

Brie: But [there’s a song we’re] mulling over since  Heather joined, and her flavour came into the track. It’s honestly one of my favourite songs we’ve written. 

Jono: And with my lyrics, I’m not usually consciously thinking, “okay this song is gonna be about this, this song is gonna be about this.” I did battle a lot of my own mental health challenges and that’s what comes out in my lyrics. It’s kinda like me figuring out what’s going on inside of my head. At the time I felt like there was a lot of stuff going on particularly with social media. 

Brie: Social media was very prominent.

Jono: It was really loud, really prominent. I needed some time away from it. I’ve been listening to a guy recently, he’s a spiritual psychology guy, his name is Micheal Singer. He talks about doing what’s in front of you and then things come together. I was at a point in my life where I just, in order to move on and keep going, I needed to take some time away from it [social media] and do what was in front of me. I think we all have had that to some extent.

Brie: F, We were still learning how to write with each other, having been a band for two years at that point. Then, there was a bit of a break because of Covid. We were just getting back to being able to practice, so that song in particular was a learning experience. 

Cora: Covid has definitely been a large part of the interviews I’ve done recently.

Brie: Yeah, there was an interview I was listening to today and they were like, “tell us how Covid has been for your creativity” and I fast forwarded through it because I was like “I CAN’T DO IT ANYMORE, MAN.”


[Fast-forward through Covid-Creativity discussion] Cora: So we’re back to doing things in person!

Brie: AAAA I’m so excited!

Jono: It’s truly, truly wonderful.

Brie: I feel like we’re finally getting that fire under our ass again. We played SLED Island in June, and to me that felt like things were finally getting going again. We had been in our box of a jam space for two years, it was cool to see some sort of progress. Sometimes I need reassurance, okay!


Cora: Tell me about that first concert back “after” the pandemic.

Brie: Well, I think there were two different first shows.

Jono: Yeah, what would you consider a ‘first show’.

Brie: We had a Covid safe one, we played the Cambie.

Jono: We played the Cambie and then the Fox, but both of them were regulated. People were seated. I guess those were our first two shows back — but if we’re talking our first show back? Crowded room? Everyone standing up?

Brie: People able to get into it?

Jono: That was at Red Gate. It was unreal. I didn’t know how to process it. In the best way possible, it was insane. We had a good response. We’re on a small label/collective. It was their showcase.

Cora: So I wanna know a bit more about this EP you’ve been working on.

Jono: Ohhhh yes. We’re so ready. 

Ralph: It’s great, it’s a great EP. It’s very fun.

Jono. It’s very fun, yeah. That’s what we were saying, one of the songs was the first song we wrote with Heather. The three songs were songs we already had, but we did some revamping with Heather. That’s why I think that one song is the one we’re most excited about — because we were able to write it as a band. I think that’s why it’s our favourite. Are we allowed to say the name of the EP yet?

Brie: I dunno, is a SWAT team gonna bust in about it?

Jono: (Laughing) The EP is gonna be called Stuck in the Muck. Brie and I go for mental health nature walks sometimes, and we were talking about possible names. Actually, we weren’t even talking about names for the EP. We were just like, “how would you describe the feeling of Covid?” and the phrase “stick in the mud” came to me. Instead, we felt kinda stuck in the muck — that’s the one!

Brie: That’s the one!


The playful chatter continued on, discussing the future of the band with hope and kindness — and a bright future apparent. It was difficult to say goodbye, even as the seconds came closer and closer to the end of the 40 minute free zoom call. This won’t be the last you see of Stuttr, so keep your eyes peeled for these incredible, caring punks.