Vancouver punk and bandleader, James Priestner, got a gang of close friends together and began creating music. Rare Americans is what they came up with for their band name. This acoustic punk band quickly came together in Seattle, Washington. They aim to tell stories through their music, real life stories that is. Their music specifically can be more relatable for people that are feeling down or feel as if they are struggling to keep up, they are aiming to inspire these people through their lyrics.
We caught up with Rare Americans to ask them a few questions about their band and new album.
How did you guys develop the band name Rare Americans?
It was kind of by happenstance. My brother and I tossed back and forth a whole bunch of names and this stuck out in our list. We thought about it, and being Canadian, we are super influenced by the USA, but the USA isn’t very influenced by Canada which is interesting. It feels like by default we are “Rare” Americans.
How did you guys meet your Slovak guitarists?
Lubo played with me in The Lunas. Funny enough I found him via Craigslist. I posted an ad looking for a guitarist and he responded in broken English. I love traveling, I’ve been to nearly 50 countries, so when I see someone’s native language isn’t English it makes me excited. I responded and asked him to chat on the phone, and we talked for probably an hour! Just a great vibe off the bat. Then we met up and jammed and I knew Lubo was one of the coolest people I’d ever come across.
What inspired you to put comics in your album covers and such?
The first record was predominantly live-action music videos as I was running a production company at the time. However, productions are huge and expensive endeavors. We had grandiose ideas for the stories in our music videos and realized animation was the only way to tell these stories. We also love art, so it felt natural to evolve to being an all animated band. I think it’s a unique part of Rare Americans, and it’s tough to stand out in 2021 with the amount of artists trying to earn fanbases.
What inspired you to name your debut single “Cats, Dogs & Rats?”
It was just the chorus of the song, and felt like the natural title! We sent the songs out to a bunch of friends and family for their opinion and that song came back as a favorite so we went with it as the first single.
Growing up was there anything that inspired you guys as children to make music when you were older?
Our parents listened to great music. My dad’s idol is Bob Dylan, he loves Roger Waters, The Beatles, all sorts of really great artists. Jared got into the punk rock scene as a teenager and really introduced our family to a ton of cool bands like Bad Religion, Rancid, Pennywise, Alkaline Trio, the list goes on and on.
I also think traveling plays a role. We traveled a lot as a family, always to cities with a lot of history, often European cities. We’d also go to unique places like Warsaw, Poland, or Lisbon, Portugal. You learn a lot from the cuisine and culture of a country and I think that plays into who we are as people, and as songwriters.
Did friends and family ever doubt your dreams and aspirations when you wanted to start creating music?
Haha! Interesting question. I was a border-line professional hockey player so when I quit that and decided to start a band, I’m sure my family thought I was crazy. I think for a long time they thought I was kind of meandering through my early 20’s, and didn’t take it very seriously. It wasn’t until Jared and I took that trip that he realized I had actually gone real deep into music and production. I had worked for years on my craft, and it wasn’t just a hobby. That changed a lot as Jared is the oldest sibling and his opinion carries weight in our family. Once I had his backing, I think everyone was on board. Shout out to my mom though, she was always supportive 🙂 haha