Friday 15 March 2024

Interview: New Junk City / MPF 2024

Hi! Emma here. Bringing CPRW back from the dead for one day only.

The highlight of the UK punk rock calendar is almost here! It’s two weeks until Manchester Punk Festival 2024.

I’ve been attending the festival since its second edition in 2016 and this year the lovely folks that organise the festival asked me to write an article for the programme. I immediately jumped at the chance to ask one of my favourite bands, New Junk City, some questions.

I had to lose quite a lot of the details for the programme, which you can view digitally online now and pick up physically with you wristband at the fest. So, here’s my full, unedited Q&A with John Vournakis (vocalist/guitarist).

This is your first time at MPF and in the UK, has it been in the works for a while?

Yeah, we have friends all over the UK, and have been trying to make it happen for quite some time. We started planning an EU/UK tour back in 2022, but it just didn’t work out. We had a record come out late in 2022 and wanted to spend 2023 promoting it in the US, so we had to push the trip again and wait until this year.

Had you heard of the festival before being asked to play?

Yeah! A number of our friends have played, and we’d been in talks with Kieran about trying to get over to the UK. We’re so stoked to finally get to play MPF!

How would you describe New Junk City for anyone who hasn’t heard you yet?

Always such a tough one to answer, so I’ll just name some influences: Superchunk, Jimmy Eat World, Big Computer, Ben Folds Five, David Bazan, Townes Van Zandt, Mr T. Experience, The Wild, Blink-182, The Get Up Kids, Panty Sweat, Bad Mammals, Dillinger Four, Samiam, etc. If you’re into the more emo side of pop punk, I think we fit nicely there.

Having seen you play at Hamburg Booze Cruise and Florida’s Fest, I’m excited you’ll be at our equivalent best weekend of the year. What other bands on the line-up are you looking forward to playing with/seeing?

I’m really excited to finally see Martha! I’ve been a big fan for years and never gotten to see them. Besides them, Pissed Jeans, our homies Reconciler that we’ll be on tour with, Perkie, Catbite, Cheekface, Antillectual, Cosmit, Big Mess, Erica Freas, Brightr, and I can’t wait to see some bands I’ve never listened to before! It’s the best part of fests like this.

Your 2022 album Beg A Promise – album of that year, some say – seems to have gained you a bigger following (the ‘at capacity’ venue at Fest last year comes to mind), why do you think that is?

Honestly the response to that record surprised us! Hopefully I can say this without sounding like a jackass, but I think it’s just because Beg A Promise is better than our other records. We’ve been a band for 10 years now, and we had the luxury of writing and recording it during lockdown, so to me it’s much more cohesive and intentional than the previous records. We’ve also played a lot more shows in the past two years than we had in previous years, which I think has a lot to do with it as well.

What are your favourite songs from it to play live?

I think my favorite [songs to play live] are the first 3 songs on the record: High Contrast, Quitters and Cavities. Cavities is probably my favorite of all our songs to play. Sold in Bunches is really fun as well.

Do you have a follow-up planned?

By the time folks are reading this, we’ll have a new split 10” record with our friends, Rutterkin, out in the world! As far as a 4th LP, we’re in the middle of writing now. We’ve got about half a record done. No solid plans for recording or release yet.

Anything non-gig related you’re looking forward to in the UK? The weather?

Tons! I’ve never been to the UK so honestly the whole trip is pretty exciting. My wife is a total Anglophile (she can recite all of the English Monarchs dating back to the 900s by heart!) and she’s coming to meet up with us at the end of the tour. She’s got a million things planned for us to explore. I’m just excited to be somewhere new, eat some good food, hang out in some pubs, and hopefully make some new friends.

New Junk City start their Europe and UK tour on Tuesday, with their Atlanta buds Reconciler. So, even if you’re not going to MPF there’s a chance to catch them elsewhere. If you’re London based, they play CPRW’s favourite venue the New Cross Inn on Thursday 28th March – a gig I am very sad to miss!

They finish the tour by playing MPF on Saturday 30th March at 15:50 in Gorilla. 

See you there!


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