Junior Smalls and the Criminals

Junior Smalls and the Criminals

 Belleville, Illinois, USA
BandRockPunk

Junior Smalls and the Criminals are a catchy power-pop outfit fronted by Afroman's producer, Junior Smalls. Inspired by melodic hardcore bands such as Lifetime and Saves the Day, JS&TC have an edgy sound and thoughtful lyrics about life, dead friends, and places dear to the memory.

Biography

Junior Smalls and the Criminals are a catchy new power pop outfit from the Midwest, fronted by producer John 'Junior Smalls' Randall, who is an odd music machine to say the least. With childhood fascinations ranging from The Smiths to NWA, Dinosaur Jr to Public Enemy, Junior Smalls is a musician formed through years of experiences so varied and polarized that even he struggles to understand how they all came together.

For his musical diversity, Junior credits a combination of his uncle Scott’s influence, and the strange neighborhood in which he grew up. “It was like some sort of funny social experiment,” says Junior, “within a three block radius there was a housing project, a middle class neighborhood, and a golf course complete with mini-mansions overlooking the green, so from a very early age I got a taste of the whole American experience.”

Meanwhile, just next door, Junior’s uncle, Scott Randall, could be heard on any given night practicing with the legendary Saint Louis area band that he fronted, Fragile Porcelain Mice. “It was great because as a kid, I could go next door into my uncle’s room when he wasn’t home and steal all kinds of awesome music, and he was hip to everything, so I would walk outta there with the strangest combinations. I remember one time I went home with Morrissey’s ‘Viva Hate,’ and Public Enemy’s ‘It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back,’ and I loved both of them." This musical hodge-podge would prove to be life changing and provide inspiration for many of Junior’s later endeavors, as well as earn him stupid nicknames; friends of Junior's, amused at his comfort in both the indie rock and hip hop worlds, began to jokingly refer to him as an 'emo-thug.’

Spending most of his adolescence in Saint Louis, Mo, area punk and hardcore bands, Junior Smalls eventually found his way into hip hop production, most notably producing the majority of Afroman’s (of ‘Because I Got High’ fame) new works, as well as pulling DJ duty for Afroman on several tours.

After coming home last year from one such tour, Junior pulled together a few old friends from former bands to create Junior Smalls and the Criminals. “I had been walking around with all of these song pieces in my head, some of them for years, and I finally made myself sit down and finish them. Each song on the album is basically about different moments in time, something that happened here or there and inspired a hook, or a few lines that came to me at the time. I had been producing for the last few years, and the itch to perform again kept getting stronger and stronger, and so I tidied up these ideas, and the album 'Best Laid Plans' was born."

'Best Laid Plans' turned out to be an infectious collection of songs reminiscent of Lifetime and early Saves the Day, thrown in a blender with The Descendents and ‘Dear You’ era Jawbreaker. UK publication Leicester Bangs described the criminals sound as having, "Plenty of crunchy punk guitars, but with a lightness of touch, which is refreshing," and elaborated that "Randall is an appealing chronicler of his life experiences, and doesn't shirk his responsibilities when it comes to applying a hook or two."

With songs about life and all its intricacies, irreverent odes to friends passed away, and nostalgic tunes about places dear to the memory, Junior Smalls and the Criminals want to bring you some music that makes you feel good about the strange journey that is, as Embrace put it, our ‘dance of days.’

Junior Smalls and the Criminals are a catchy power-pop outfit fronted by Afroman's producer, Junior Smalls. Inspired by melodic hardcore bands such as Lifetime and Saves the Day, JS&TC have an edgy sound and thoughtful lyrics about life, dead friends, and places dear to the memory.

Lyrics

Best Laid Plans

Written By: John P. Randall

We started out with distant eyes
The beginning of an era with no compromise
We ruled so absolutely
Cause we knew it was our time
I look back so disappointed
We were kings in our own minds
Rulers of a crumbling empire
As the walls came down
Stone by stone
We found ourselves now exposed and alone
Left to face this world we could have owned

I said the best laid plans
Can sometimes go astray
You know it happened to me
And I think about it everyday
Because it’s been a long time and
I feel like nothing’s changed
And no I don’t know where I’m going
I just wanna get on my way

What started out as youthful aims
Flowered and died and left as quick as it came
Spent the next few years running in circles
Just trying to recover
What can never be the same
So we beat on boats against the current
Trying to defy
The way that mistakes we made reduced our fate
To a fleeting moment in time
This ain’t really a sad song
Just a little somethin’ to bring closure
To a dream deferred
That had passed, before I knew it was over
And the distance grows every passing year
And the memories get just a little less clear
Oh, how these days collide
Collide

Forever

Written By: John P. Randall

You see I lie in bed for hours but I get no rest
From this feeling (that) always seems to well up
Deep in my chest
A simple fear of missing all the signs
What I’m supposed to do next
In this world of catch-all clauses and adjustable rates
I wanna sneak away one night and get picked up at the gates
But there’s nowhere to go so I’ll just stretch on out and wait

And I’m not scared of forever
But it’s a science just to hold it together
And I’ll take this feeling wherever
It takes me and guides my endeavors

You see I lie in bed for hours but I get no rest
But I still don’t wanna move because my mind is a mess
Nowadays we’re our only enemy I fret
Through the thorns of our own faults
We prick ourselves on the vine
But the flowers look so good we fall for it every time
(I) guess a little bit of pain reminds us we’re alive

And I’m not scared of forever
But it’s a science just to hold it together
And I’ll take this feeling wherever
It takes me and guides my endeavors

And if it takes me, it might
A thousand times or more
To get this thing right
Until I reach that shore
And I’ll tread water all night
Till I see the morning or
Succumb to this long fight,
Resolution is in store
Either way, it’s alright
Either way, it’s alright

And I’m not scared of forever
But it’s a science just to hold it together
And I’ll take this feeling wherever
It takes me and guides my endeavors
Through this life

Southside Lights

Written By: John P. Randall

I see your face in everything I do
And when I see those Southside lights
I know you’re still there too

In the scheme of things, I’ve found these kinds of nights
So meaningful, yet disappointing
But I still make myself go
And I know it’s kinda shitty but I sometimes joke
You didn’t even show up to your own benefit show
Faces you don’t even know with R.I.P. tattoos
Like they knew ya for a decade
But I ain’t even blue, you know why?

I see your face in everything I do
And when I go these familiar places
I know you’re still there too
I see your face in everything I do
And when I see those Southside lights
I know you’re still there too

In the seam of things,
I’ve found (that) what ties us up
Can be so easily disjointed
We have so little control
And I know it’s kinda wrong but I crack myself up
When you’re checkin’ in on me, do you look down or up?
I know I’m with you either way cause we were one and the same
We can sing harmony with angels
Or shoot dice in the flames, either way

I see your face in everything I do
And when I go these familiar places
I know you’re still there too
I see your face in everything I do
And when I see those Southside lights
I know you’re still there too

You said you buried your heart in this town
Just wait till you dig it up
Just wait till you dig it up

I see your face in everything I do
And when I see those Southside lights
I know you’re still there too

Discography

Our debut album is entitled, 'Best Laid Plans,' and we are currently in the studio recording a second album. Previews of the new songs to come soon!