JC Townsend

Breathe and dive (lyric)

The single from my EP "Bonefires", which will be released in fall 2021.

"BONEFIRES" drops December 17th.

JC is releasing his new 4 song EP "Bonefires" December 17th 2021 on all platforms. Breathe and Dive and it's B-side will be available on limited run 7-inch as well.
"Bonefires" was tracked and mixed by Matt Roach, and mastered by Stu McKillop at Rain City Recorders in Vancouver Canada.

jc speaks with absolute underground


Absolute Underground: Who are we talking with and what are you most infamous for?
JT: Hey AU, this is JC (Jay) Townsend. I guess I would be most infamous for my DIY ethos. I have been designing and screen printing my own (band/gig) shirts in my living room for years. There was also a time that I hand stapled and distributed 1000 copies of my DIY punk/metal/ hardcore (Rek) Magazine (#1) that I created from nothing in 2005. But that’s another story... I am always learning and trying new creative things.

AU: Give us a brief history of your music. Along with your solo project, what other bands are you a part of?

JT: I have been performing in music since I was very young. I sang and toured in a choir at age 9; playing my first crossover show opening for Beyond Possession in Calgary at the age of 16 (what an honour that was). Since then, I have played in numerous punk, metal, hardcore bands; most recently as the vocalist for Press On (Rain City Hardcore) and Drown in Ashes (RIP). The solo acoustic thing basically came out of nowhere. When the world suddenly stopped last March, I had to do something creative. So, I (literally) dusted off the acoustic guitar and started playing it again. In all honesty, I don’t think this acoustic thing would have happened without the shutdown. Press On had just dropped our EP “Withdrawal” and we had some shows booked in BC and AB. Our first show scheduled for March 26 th at CBDBs, and everything else, was suddenly cancelled. Press On remains on Covid19 hiatus. I can’t wait to start screaming angry/inspired words again.

AU: This past year has been a harrowing one for musical artists across the globe, but somehow you have managed to put out two releases, as well as some videos? What can you tell us about them? What was your experience releasing and promoting music during a pandemic?

JT: The shutdown has been a huge gamechanger for me (and everyone). One minute I/we are living our lives, jamming, and getting stoked for the first of many shows, the next minute I am isolated, confused, and nervous. After a week or two of looking at the walls I started heading into the jam space and banging around on the acoustic; if anything, it was to maintain some level of normalcy and sanity. I revisited some older acoustic cover songs that I love (Defeater, Pink Floyd, Sinead O’Connor, Thrice), and got inspired to write some originals. I had the song “Angel” from 2019; I wrote and released it for my mom, after she passed away. She always wanted me to sing (like I did as a kid in the choir) again, but I never did while she was alive (sorry mom). I got to tinkering around with Garageband, bought a decent mic, and hit record. That’s how “Solitary (covid-covers) and GhOStS came to life; on the fly and in the moment. I did not have a preconceived plan to do the releases, or any of iit; things just spilled out and started to snowball. GhOStS was released in June, and Solitary in August. I actually recorded the cover songs first because I didn’t have much for originals and I had to learn how to record and get comfortable again with the six-string. Aside from mastering (with Railtown Mastering), the recordings were completely DIY. They turned our pretty decent. GhOStS is a heavy record for me, with lots of lived experience in those words and song structure (“Save Me from Myself,”“Diamond Days,”etc..). I released both EPs on limited run 10-inch vinyl and cassette. I am having a great time with it. It sucks not having three other people to collaborate and split costs with, but doing my own thing has been a really great experience so far. I am also getting to know artists, promoters, and venues in a genre that I am new to, and very unfamiliar with. The video for the song “GhOStS” came later (Dec 2020). It was super fun and quick to pull together. It all ties into your question about releasing records during a pandemic. It has been a very interesting (and eye opening) experience promoting music with no live shows to look forward to, and/or promote the releases through. I live to play live (always have). Unfortunately, I have had to cancel three solo shows during the pandemic, I kept hoping things would get better but they didn’t. So, it really became about promoting streaming and band related online platforms, via social media. It’s been a super huge learning curve; that’s where the idea/need for a video came from. It seems to be about content creation and consistency with social media right now (if you are into that sort of thing). I released and promoted the “GhOStS” video to prop up the 2020 releases and am super stoked how it turned out. I will not be releasing my next record while the pandemic is a thing. I will drop a single (or two) and a video; I am also due for an album release show (or three), and need to be patient (which is very hard for me). It is a love/hate thing with online promotion and the new era of music consumption, for me. I really struggle with it sometimes (this past year has been very enlightening) and I think back fondly to the days of mix tapes, hall shows, and spending my allowance on smokes and the latest Celtic Frost, SNFU, Boneless Ones, and Corrosion of Conformity vinyl. Music just felt more organic and personal; you had to look (and work) for it; staking your pre social media claim as a punk, skater, headbanger, jock, goth, etc (those were the days). In the current world of instant gratification and limitless access, there are so many artists hoping to reach a new listener base (which is great). While I love jumping down the various listener path wormholes, and discovering new music, there is double edge sword to it. I am not sure how healthy it is for the artists (mental, financial and social) wellbeing, and the music industry as a whole. I am not complaining, I completely understand things have changed for better, and the worse.

AU: What drives your work, musically or thematically? What can we expect to hear on these two 2020 releases?

JT: As always (Drown in Ashes, Press On, and now JC Townsend), I write from my life experiences (past and present) and observations. Things like addiction, mental health, and perseverance are always themes that are embed in my art. The songs are raw and a starting point, both vocally and acoustically for me. “Solitary” is a collection of covers that have meant a lot to me for a very long time; the acapella Rise Against cover was particularly fun. They are basically songs that span and remind me of various points in my life.

AU: You’;re set to re-enter the studio this Feb/ March to record a new album, Bonefires, tell us about it! What themes or topics will the new album explore, and how will it differ musically from your past releases?

JT: I am stoked to get in and record Bonefires. The last 9 months are sort of a blur and now I can focus on recording material I started to work on in August. The themes for this record are pretty consistent with the GhOStS and my heavier project(s); loss, addiction/recovery, trauma and relationships. I keep trying to write lyrics that are lighter/happier, but I always end up pouring out words that are heavier and deeper in nature. I am happy guy who writes sad/dark songs... If I have to work too hard (or struggle) to tell the story, it doesn’t feel natural or honest. With song titles such as “Hero (spread your wings)”, “An Only Son”, ‘Breathe and Dive”, I am staying true to form. I think that my song writing is getting stronger, which will show on this record. There will be fewer vocal harmonies and more of a stripped-down/ raw feel. I feel that I have developed my own alt-acoustic sound over the past 9 months, that I am proud of. Recording music that can translate live is important, and something I need to keep in mind while demoing and getting ready for the studio. Things just have a way of creating themselves (in the moment) when I am writing/ recording; songs usually come out more complex, textured, and wider that I thought they would when I started the session. I am working on having more control over that side of my artistry (or should I? that’s the question). However, I think that harmonies will become a sort of signature for my recorded works, and I will continue to include them in my writing, as the songs allow. People have compared the songs on GhOStSto the works of Elliott Smith and Simon and Garfunkel, which is certainly esteemed company to be in. Going into the studio will also make this next recording sound bigger and more polished.

AU: Since this is our Covid Black Valentines issue, do you have any pandemic-specific dating advice for our readers?

JT: Full body condoms are a thing, right?

AU: What’s next for JC Townsend as an artist? Will you be hitting the stage as soon as Covid finally fucks off?

JT: I am going to get this next record done, work to make some solid connections in the realm of promotion and management, wait (not so) patiently for shows to start again and hopefully get loud my brothers in Press On, sooner than later. I can’t wait to hit that stage again. Now I will get to do it in two very different ways. Singing and screaming about heavy stuff. Life will be good... I would love to do some touring as well.

AU: What do you do when you’re not making music?

JT: Honoured to get to journey with my teenage son and amazing partner. I am a bit obsessed with fitness right now, and am always looking for the next Netflix show to binge watch with the family.
I live a quiet and rewarding life with family and close friends.

AU: What else should we know about JC Townsend that we don’t already?

JT: I have been working alongside people with developmental disabilities and mental health concerns for the past 20 years. Giving back to the community is something I will always be grateful for. I have learned so much about myself, and my community, through the people I have walked with.

AU: Any final words for our readers?

I will never forget hearing the Rollins Band song “Do It” for the first time and how it shaped/ steered my life. Do shit that inspires you! Do things that challenge and teach you! Do things that make you happy! Do things with, and give your time and energy to, people that give a shit about you. Live a life on your terms and don’t compromise your values, or what you believe in for anyone. A year ago, if you asked if I would be a solo alternative acoustic recording artist, I would have likely shrugged my shoulders with a blank stare, or laughed. I am really happy and fulfilled by doing it. I made the decision to commit to it, put in the work, challenge myself to step outside the box and become vulnerable and honest. If anything, the pandemic has shown me that we have to keeping moving ahead (Pressing On, so to speak), and look within ourselves. I remain optimistic, and am very eager to see where this all leads...


PHOTO CREDIT: Milton Stille

jc townsend

"ghosts" video premiere

Filmed and edited by Jade Weekes and Katie Poch




5 song EP released in June 2020. With 4 originals songs and "Disconnected" by Face to Face, GhOStS is available on all streaming platforms and Bandcamp. (SOCAN)


SOLITARY (covid covers)

6 song EP of cover songs by  Defeater, My Chemical Romance, Thrice, Sinead O'Connor, Rise Against and Pink Floyd. These are songs that are very meaningful to JC. 

written and performed by alvin lee and ten years after

I've Been there too (cover)