Photo by Jonathan Taggart
Vancouver indie rockers Said the Whale are quickly becoming a well-known presence in the Canadian music scene. The band, which was formed back in 2007, has released two studio albums, toured throughout Canada and the U.S., and even won this year's Juno Award for New Group of the Year.
Over the past month, the band has been on the road with fellow indie rockers Tokyo Police Club and Dinosaur Bones, touring across five provinces in the great nation of Canada. Last night, I had a chance to chat with Said the Whale frontman Tyler Bancroft about everything from the creation of the band, to touring, to the Juno Awards, to the delights of food. You can check out the full interview below.
Some Kind of Awesome: So, Said the Whale was started by both you and Ben [Worcester]. Why did you two decide to form the band? And how did everyone else become involved?
Tyler Bancroft: After high school I tried the university thing, but that wasn't working out [laughs], so Ben and I started playing music together. We actually started out acoustically, doing basement recordings, and eventually it became a five-piece. The drummer, [Spencer Shoening], we knew from high school, and we've also got a new bass player, [Nathan Shaw], so hopefully he'll be with us for a while.
Some Kind of Awesome: Growing up in Vancouver, how has this city influenced you and your music?
TB: Everything, it's influenced everything. Me and Ben are heavily influenced by geography, the city is basically our muse. Our first record, [Taking Abalonia/Howe Sounds], took a lot of influence from Vancouver and the West Coast. The cool thing about touring, though, is that your music becomes influenced by the places you see. Not to sound typical or anything, but our latest record, [Islands Disappear], was influenced a lot by being on the road and touring across Canada.
Some Kind of Awesome: Your first album, Taking Abalonia, was re-released in 2008 as Howe Sounds/Taking Abalonia. Why did you decide to re-release the album? And how do Howe Sounds and Taking Abalonia compare?
TB: We re-released Taking Abalonia because it didn't have the distribution the first time around. It was our chance to give the album a commercial release. [Taking Abalonia and Howe Sounds] are actually really similar, they were recorded 8 months apart, so I think it just made sense to release them together. [Laughs] I don't really think about the past too often, I tend to think more about the future.
Some Kind of Awesome: What was it like recording your second album, Islands Disappear, and what inspired those songs?
TB: With the second album, we had a little more money and a little more time. We were still working with Tom Dobrzanski, the producer from our first album, but we also had Howard Redekopp (The New Pornographers, Mother Mother) come in to tag team the production. Driving across Canada influenced the album a lot, but it was never an intentional ode to Canada. We would just write whatever came naturally.
Some Kind of Awesome: Last November, you were in CKPK-FM's Peak Performance Project. You won second place, as well as $75,000. What did you do with the money? New record in the works?
TB: Yeah, that was a really fun experience. The $75,000 was actually put into an account that could only be used for career related stuff. We've have a new record in the works, about 10 songs written, and we've got studio time booked for July. We're planning on releasing an EP in the Fall, and then a full release in early 2012. I find with a lot of bands, and ourselves, you just have to keep the ball rolling.
Some Kind of Awesome: You were recently at this year's Juno Awards, what was it like winning the award for New Group of the Year?
TB: It's a bizarre feeling [laughs]. I've always watched the Junos, even when I was a kid, I would watch it with my parents. It's like the Canadian Grammys [laughs]. It's just a bizarre thing, but it is amazing to be recognized. Not to say we're better than everyone else, but it's just awesome that our music is being recognized.
Some Kind of Awesome: What's it like touring with Tokyo Police Club and Dinosaur Bones? Have you guys done anything fun or exciting while on tour?
TB: yeah, they're a bunch of great dudes. We've actually spent a lot of time playing hockey before or after shows, and we've also been curling. It's been a pretty Canadian tour [laughs]. But compared to British Columbia, the rest of Canada has been so cold.
Some Kind of Awesome: Over the course of your tour, you've had shows all across Canada, and even a few in the United States. What was it like touring in the States for the first time? And what was the best thing you had to eat while on tour?
TB: Touring in the States is a lot different than in Canada, there's a lot less time between cities and shows [laughs]. There, you're driving for four hours or two hours and you're already in a new city. Here [Canada], you're driving for a lot longer. The people in the States are really nice, too, and you can buy beer at corner stores [laughs]. It's funny, while we've been on tour we've been doing these Indiegestion segments, get it? Indie-gestion. For that we've been filming the things we have eaten while on the road. In Austin, you could get this deep fried, chicken and cheese stuffed avacado.
Some Kind of Awesome: Since we're on the topic of food, what's the best thing you've ever eaten? We're going Food Network on this one.
TB: [Laughs] The best thing I've ever eaten? Probably this pulled pork slider I had in Austin, or Schwartz's Deli in Montreal. Honestly, I could talk for hours and hours about the things I've eaten.
Some Kind of Awesome: How does it feel being back in your hometown of Vancouver? And which venue is your favourite to perform at?
The hometown crowd is amazing, they're always so forgiving and welcoming. The Commodore [Ballroom] is easily my favourite venue to play at. The sound is second to none.
Some Kind of Awesome: Awesome, thanks for your time Tyler, it was great chatting with you.