Bringin’ it Backwards: Interview with Rare Americans (James Returns!)

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We had the pleasure of interviewing Rare Americans over Zoom video! 

Vancouver’s Rare Americans invite listeners into a new world of percolating alt-pop and carnivalesque, backpack hip-hop with the announcement of their new album Rare Americans 3: Jamesy Boy & The Screw Loose Zoo out October 21st. Along with the announcement the band has shared the summer-soaked single “Hey Sunshine” featuring a fleeting romance between a horse named Alfred and a cat.

Co-produced by the band alongside Grammy and JUNO winner Chin Injeti (Drake, Eminem) and Ben Kaplan (Snoop Dogg, Bootsy Collins, Shakira) who also won a JUNO for his work on Rare Americans’ “Brittle Bones Nicky” and also featuring two-time Grammy-nominee D SmokeRA3 is set in the animated universe of Rhythm Kitchen. 

The story begins after Jamesy Boy (the album’s protagonist) is invited to the Rhythm Kitchen by his mentor, who notices he is grappling with internal demons. Documented through a series of animated music videos, the new concept album RA3 takes place during Jamesy Boy’s (AKA frontman James Priestner’s) trip through Rhythm Kitchen. Each song is a memory rooted in Priestner’s real life.  

But this album isn’t just about Priestner – album track “PHD,” for example, highlights a fan and now close friend of the band, Nick, who was able to turn his life around after being misdiagnosed with bi-polar disorder at the age of 12. Nick is now in the process of receiving his “PHD” to help other kids in similar positions. Listeners will be able to see more of his story celebrated with an animated video character in the new album this fall. 

Since their debut in 2018, Rare Americans has amassed over 150M streams as an independent band, were featured in Warner’s Scoob! The Movie and broke through the Billboard Hot 100 album charts with their independently released album RA2. Their song “Baggage” recently surpassed 5 Million YouTube views and is currently outranking Machine Gun Kelly and St. Vincent with the number two spot on Canada’s Breaking Alt “Alternative Specialty” chart. Revisit the “Baggage” video HERE.

On RA3 the four-piece band experiments not only with a new character-driven universe but with its widest variety of instruments to date. Listeners can expect ukulele, acoustic guitar, piano, Moog sub-bass, programmed drums, a melodica and more. Stay tuned for more to come from Rare Americans soon. 


Rare Americans began its journey while James and his older brother of 11 years Jared, a co-writer but not performing member in the band, were on a vacation together in the Caribbean. James recalls jokingly saying to Jared, “We should write some songs together,” to which Jared responded, “Fuck that, what about an entire album?” A week and a half later, the two of them had created 15 songs in what would later become their eponymously-titled debut album. Since then, Rare Americans have rounded out the crew with the addition of Slovak guitarists Lubo Ivan and Jan Cajka, Ginger Chen on bass and drummer Duran Ritz. They’ve racked up over half a million monthly listeners on Spotify in the process. 

Rare Americans are telling their stories directly to anyone who wants — or needs — to listen. These tales are easy to relate to for anyone who’s been down or has struggled to keep up, yet are also laced with devilish optimism and hope. “We’re trying to inspire and empower our fans,” Priestner states while discussing the band’s mission. “We’re an independent band, the underdogs, and I think a lot of our fans relate to that.”

We want to hear from you! Please email [email protected].

#podcast #interview #bringinbackpod #rareamericans #ra3 #zoom #aspn #americansongwriter #americansongwriterpodcastnetwork

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