The guys of Alright Junior are no strangers to “roughing” it on the road. They’ve brushed their teeth in a Walmart parking lot, quite literally fell out of their van to avoid a bee, and performed in a closet-sized room in Brooklyn — the only space in the bar not being utilized for a RuPaul’s Drag Race finale viewing party.
But for Jace Miller, Jamie Victor and Chris Pires, these “lows” are cherished just as much as the “highs” — opening for bands like The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, releasing two full-length albums, and landing a spot in the final four of Radio 104.5’s Birthday Show competition.
For them, every single experience is part of the journey. As long as they’re doing what they love — making music and performing on stage (even a miniscule, poorly-lit one) — that’s all that matters.
On a recent Monday morning in Bristol Borough, The Times sat down with Alright Junior to learn about the band’s longtime local roots, upcoming projects fans can look forward to and more.
Formed in 2006 by guitarist and vocalist Miller, a Trevose native and Fishtown resident, Alright Junior is, according to him, “an alt-rock trio with hints of Queens of the Stone Age, Soundgarden, a little Radiohead, Smashing Pumpkins and Stone Temple Pilots.”
Though Alright Junior’s current lineup is relatively new, with Hulmeville resident Victor taking on bass three years ago and Mayfair’s Pires joining as drummer last year, the three go way back. Miller met Victor through the Philly music scene, and befriended Pires at Bucks County Community College, where they were both music majors and jazz ensemble members.
“Being in bands, it’s very much like being in a relationship. Every time a new member joins the band, they bring their influences with them,” said Victor. “Jace started Alright Junior in 2006 with people that have all done their own things now. So I’ve joined and Chris has joined. It’s still Alright Junior, but it’s morphing into something different, which is good. It’s a different flavor but it’s awesome.”
Pires, who has watched the band’s success as an outsider, is thrilled to be a part of its next chapter.
“It was just consistency and determination. There are local bands that rise very, very quickly and then after a year, break up. Thirteen years. That’s quite an accomplishment. It’s quite a feat and the fact that it’s still going, that speaks for itself,” Pires said.
With countless performances under its belt, including shows at the Electric Factory, Festival Pier, TLA and Trocadero, Alright Junior has formed quite the area fanbase. Thanks to these dedicated individuals, the band recently made it to the last round of Radio 104.5’s Birthday Show competition, which tasked listeners with choosing a local act to open the concert on June 2. This was done through an online voting process, and Alright Junior is currently one of four vying for the chance to share the stage with The Interrupters, The Lumineers and Death Cab for Cutie.
“104.5 has been really helpful to us over the years, and really kind,” Miller said. “Radio is a weird animal, and it’s been very nice and refreshing to meet people that are in that industry and still have that compassion and love for music. They’re not just running through the motions.”
This same sentiment is true for Miller and his bandmates. Even during those less-than-perfect shows, they’re not just going through the motions. They still give it their all.
“You do it because you love to do it. You do it for the guys on stage with you and for anyone who’s listening,” Miller said. “Whether there are 1,000 people or if it’s just the bartender listening in the back, we want to give those people the same show.”
But so far, Alright Junior is doing alright, especially in the most unexpected places.
“I find that a lot of the better shows are in the middle of nowhere. The biggest cities have so much going on, so many things to do. When you don’t have a big name, it’s really difficult. But you go to these little towns where these kids have one place to go, and it’s packed and super awesome,” Miller said. “Sometimes you throw a dart into the dark and you’re like, ‘OK, let’s see what this is like.’ But we’re always shooting for the next big thing and trying to make things happen, so anyone we can gather that wants to pay attention is more than appreciated.”
Once its new music is recorded and released during the latter half of 2019, Alright Junior is aiming to hit the road.
“Touring is just the best. You don’t even need a watch. It doesn’t matter where you are, what time it is. It’s almost like a dream. I can’t wait to get back out there. It’s freeing, especially when you’re sleeping in the parking lot of a Walmart,” Victor said. “We had that happen.”
Alright Junior plans to chronicle its tour adventures through YouTube and Instagram videos in order to provide fresh, fun content for fans.
“We’re just three idiots that are talking and laughing about nonsense,” Pires said.
In addition to the potential Radio 104.5 Birthday Show at BB&T Pavilion (the winner will be announced shortly), the band has several confirmed shows: Brainfest on May 11 at Connie’s Ric Rac in South Philadelphia, which benefits the American Brain Tumor Association; and the Trocadero on May 19.
Miller described the band’s live set as “rambunctious,” adding how they “move around a lot, like little kids.” But it’s this very energy, this blatant love for music, that continues to make Alright Junior relevant and wanted in the industry.
“The goal is to just keep playing music and to be happy while doing it,” Pires said. “It’s a shame, really, when I see musicians who were talented but don’t enjoy doing it, and that’s never a situation I want to be in. If that does happen, I have to recognize that and take necessary actions to correct it. It should never feel like work.”
“You always need to check yourself on why you do what you do,” Miller added. “A lot of people get in it for the wrong reasons. It’s just about money or whatever perks come along with it, temporary famous-ness. But it’s plastic. It doesn’t last. I play music because it saved my life so many times over the years, and it continues to do so. It’s all therapy, connecting with other people.” ••
Keep up with Alright Junior at alrightjunior.com
Samantha Bambino can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org