Friday, November 28, 2014


The Sound

The Whale says ‘Aloha’

8/21/2013

Said the Whale plays Vaudeville Mews on Friday, Aug 23. Photo by Vanessa Heins

Said the Whale plays Vaudeville Mews on Friday, Aug 23. Photo by Vanessa Heins

Said The Whale isn’t as well-known of a Canadian import as, say, Beiber or maple syrup, but the Vancouver-based five-piece has already established itself in its native country as one of the bright spots in Canada’s musical landscape.

Notoriously hard workers, the group has released 10 EPs and three full-length albums, all since 2007. “Little Mountain” (2012) cracked the Top 20 on the Canadian Hot 100 — that was the year before the group was bestowed with the 2011 Juno award for New Group of the Year.

Now, coinciding with the release of its new album, “hawaiii,” (sic) Said The Whale is making its first big push into the land of freedom and guns.

“I personally enjoy the challenge of trying to win a new crowd,” said front man Tyler Bancroft in an interview from the road. “It’s a challenge trying to win new people each night.”

Des Moines Finest

The band hopes people in the U.S. will be won over in the same way as they have been in Canada: by music that is hook-heavy and fast, coupled with a uniquely dynamic brand of songwriting firing from two barrels. Each Said the Whale song is penned either by Bancroft or fellow vocalist Ben Worcester, and ne’er the twain shall meet.

“We never collaborate,” said Bancroft, describing the songwriting process. “Usually one of us writes the song to some form of completion (before bringing it to the band). Often it’s entirely written. That’s good for us as artists, because it’s not limiting in any way.

“We’re a band that’s never been stuck in one genre. We’ve always done our best to explore other sounds. That comes naturally when you have two song writers. It’s perhaps not commercially desirable, but the kids are happy.”

Penning entire songs solo also allows each songwriter to explore deeply personal topics as fully as possible. Writing the songs, then presenting them to the band, allows for a kind of non-collaborative collaboration that makes for a wildly diverse sound even within the confines of the same album. But for “hawaiii,” the duo took a different path to completion.

“This is the first album where we did what the average person might call a writing retreat,” Bancroft explained. “It was a very beautiful setting, and they had these kinds of shacks where you could set up your typewriter and just work. We spent the week there — like 16 hours a day, pausing only to eat and briefly to sleep — and wrote most of the songs there. ‘Little Mountain’ was more musically collaborative, but we were near each other for more of the early stages of the writing process (on ‘hawaiii’).”

Further differentiating “hawaiii” from the band’s previous efforts, this album marks the first producer credit for Bancroft as well. While it’s a role that he’s always dabbled in to one degree or another, the new album is Bancroft’s first full-fledged attempt at working both sides of the studio glass.

“I’ve always been pretty involved,” he agreed. “But, for ‘hawaiii,’ it just sort of happened naturally that I got my hands the dirtiest.”

The result is an album that Bancroft thinks is more visceral than “Little Mountain” with moments of emotional weight that make it stand apart from its predecessors.

“I think, at the core of those songs, the record has its sonically heavier moments,” he said. “For example, ‘I love you’ is on the heavier side, talking about unconditional love on any terms.”

So as the band embarks on its first full U.S. tour, Said the Whale feels like it’s primed to put the best foot forward.

“We’re feeling excited about everybody hearing the tunes,” Bancroft said. “We feel like it’s our best album.” CV

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