Formed in 1999, Winnipeg, Canada's Projektor released two swirlingly atmospheric post-rock full-lengths through Endearing Records and began working on a third—what would become Atlantic Tired South—before unfortunately calling it quits sometime around 2006. The tracks that had been completed were originally issued in very limited quantity to friends and fans as band-made CD-Rs the following year, and that seemed to be the end of the tale...
Thankfully, times changed, and today's widespread streaming age drove the group to unearth and properly distribute the material digitally. This decision is quite a gift, too, because Atlantic Tired South as it stands today—four "new" tracks plus bonus Failure and Quicksand covers—is undoubtedly Projektor's finest work, taking that aforementioned base of swirlingly atmospheric post-rock and injecting noticeably more variety and energy—a heavier punch and increasedly active songwriting style that immediately hit the spot for me. The Failure and Quicksand covers are not at all out of place as loose reference points for the pool from which Projektor's original compositions were starting to draw at that point in time.
Stream the full EP below, followed by an interview with bassist/vocalist Jahmeel Russell (who currently stays rather active with Actors and Red Vienna, two more bands that should absolutely be investigated if you're unfamiliar):
I was somehow unfamiliar with Projektor, and now having given the band's discography a cursory listen leading up to this, it's sort of heartbreaking that Atlantic Tired South as a full-length album was never completed, because—at least to my ears—this is the group's best and most energetic material, so I'm quite thankful that any of the compositions were properly documented. At that time, what was leading the songwriting toward a heavier and more propulsive direction than Projektor's prior work?
Our second record, Young Hearts Fail, was already heading in this direction, I think. You can hear a balance on some of the songs on that record between our first record, Red Wolf Glass, and the songs on Atlantic Tired South. Certainly our guitar player, Jeremy [Gillespie], had an effect on the change in sound as well. He joined the band shortly after Red Wolf Glass was released and as much as he was into shoegaze and post-rock, we shared a love of heavier music, too. I am really proud of the first record for being a truly honest expression at the time it was made, but once we started writing new songs I naturally gravitated toward more upbeat tempos and tighter arrangements. Jeremy and our drummer, Darren [Achorn], were both game.
What caused the band to fall apart before completing the full album? Had you already decided to call it quits when these songs were recorded?
What happened, basically, is we had made certain compromises on the Young Hearts Fail album partly based on the people who were working with the band at the time. I'm as much to blame for this as anyone. I really learned a lesson making that record that you should never compromise your art, because at the end of the day whether you achieve any success or not, you have to live with it yourself. When we started writing songs for Atlantic Tired South, we went back to doing whatever came out and not overthinking it. We recorded the songs "Emergency!" and "Glass City" and were very excited about them. Still, morale was kind of low in the band even though we were re-focused and had a great new second guitar player in Johnny Stewart. Then came the opportunity to move to Vancouver and for personal reasons I decided it was something I had to do. I really did want to document the other new material we had been working on, though, and luckily my friend Jaret [McNabb] offered to record us. I remember "We Were Diamonds" was finished right before we recorded with him. I came up with the bass riffs and arranged them very quickly. Lyrically, the song is about the band falling apart.
Would you be willing to discuss in any more detail the "compromises" that occurred with Young Hearts Fail? I'm just curious in what ways the material was "nudged" in one direction or another, especially since that scenario ultimately resulted in the band re-focusing in a way that yielded some of its finest work.
At the time, there was talk of possibly jumping to a bigger (i.e. major) label. We demoed the first three songs we had written with the same producer we had worked with on Red Wolf Glass. I think he and a few other people around the band thought this was the next logical step and the new material had the potential to cross into that world. We started making the record with him, which ended up taking an extremely long time to finish. Before the record was even released, we had a song start to chart on mainstream rock radio and had showcased for a booking agent who represented some very big rock bands, and he agreed to take us on. This had an effect on the mixes and production choices of the record as we were making it. We were really not happy with the way the recording was turning out as a result. At the end of it all, we ended up releasing the album on Endearing Records anyway—though, in a funny twist, they had a new distribution deal and the album ended up being distributed by a major in Canada.
Was there ever a possibility that Endearing Records might have released Atlantic Tired South as a physical EP, or were you literally just recording the songs to preserve the results of the work that went into composing them?
The latter. We knew we were breaking up, I don't think we even thought to approach them about releasing it.
What's the story with the cover tunes? Great choices, of course, but I'm curious how they ended up recorded given the surrounding circumstances. Were you just blowing off some steam in the studio, etc.?
We had started performing the Failure song, "Solaris," in our live sets and it went down really well. We are all massive fans of that band. The Quicksand song was one we sort of just jammed on at rehearsals for fun—again, because we were big fans of the band. I think we only ever played it live once. I believe it was a very last-minute decision to record the covers. Jaret was cool with tracking them, and it was fun for us to do. There was no plan to release them at the time.
I have to say, Atlantic Tired South still sounds fresh and has aged excellently. What made now the right time to finally circulate these tracks in an official manner, well over a decade after the fact?
Thank you! Over the holidays this past year, I had a chance to reconnect with Jeremy and Darren. I think some nostalgia was in the air and we all thought it would be cool to properly release these songs. We had them mastered years ago and Jeremy had made the artwork, but we only ever made CD-R copies for people who asked to hear it. We're really proud of these songs, so it's nice that it's now possible to make them available to listen to for anyone who wants to check them out.
You've remained quite active since that time—predominantly with Red Vienna and Actors—but did Darren, Jeremy, or Johnny move on to any other musical projects that listeners should look into?
Darren has released a few recordings with his bands Warsaw and Nurse. Jeremy has composed some music for film. We actually got to work together on the soundtrack to his movie, The Void. Jeremy and I also went on to briefly play in the live lineup of Johnny's band, Mico; and in 2016 he released the self-titled album by his band, Satan's Cape.