October 23, 2003

The New Face of Pop

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The classification of experimental-pop seems somewhat contradictory, but it is the term that best explains the phenomenon of Broken Social Scene. On the band’s sophomore release, You Forgot It in People, they reveal an acute pop sensibility mixed with an experimental edge, as beautifully rich melodies swirl in a storm of densely layered orchestration and electro-effects. Though songs rise and fall in fuzz-doused explosions of drums and lashing guitars or gradually stroll through bittersweet composition, we never lose sight of the central musical theme, which always seems to come bubbling up through the mayhem.

This Saturday, October 25th, Broken Social Scene will play Cornell, 7 p.m. at the Noyes Community Center, along with an epic line-up arranged by the Fanclub Collective. Before Broken Social Scene, Southern California’s Irving, K Records’s Bobby Birdman, Badger King Jona Bechtolt’s Y.A.C.H.T., and local group Picture Slide will play. Tickets, $5 for students and $6 for non-students, will be available at the door.

daze had an opportunity to speak over the phone with Brendan Canning, one of the founding members of Broken Social Scene. The conversation follows.

daze: How many people would you say currently constitute Broken Social Scene?

Brendan: Well, do you want the answer when we get to Ithaca? I think, shit, you know what? I don’t who’s going to be coming to Ithaca with us, because we have the CMJ that weekend and I think it will probably be six of us going. Right now we’re on tour with a group called Metric, so some of the Metric gang play with us. At this point, actually, they all play with us, so we’re sort of at maximum, we’re a nine piece on stage. And the smallest would be a five piece I guess.

daze: Who would you say those five are?

Brendan: It’s Jason Collett, Andrew Whiteman, Justin Peroff, myself [Brendan Canning], and Kevin Drew.

daze: How does the band change with the different compositions?

Brendan: Well, you know, it’s just different players in on different things. It changes, obviously, but it’s still the core of the band and the affiliated members help decorate.

daze: Where are you now, by the way?

Brendan: We’re touring just outside Memphis. trying to make it so we can go see a movie in Nashville.

daze: What movie are you trying to catch?

Brendan: Oh, I don’t know. Either Lost in Translation or School of Rock, whichever one is playing closest.

daze: Two pretty different films, right?

Brendan: For sure, but both would fill the entertainment quotient.

daze: Thinking about the My Bloody Valentine track on the Lost in Translation soundtrack, what would you guys cite as your musical influences?

Brendan: Could be anything, we just came from Graceland, and we were listening to reggae. We were listening to My Morning Jacket yesterday, maybe we’ll put on the Constantines’s record later, or, maybe I’ll get my Roy Orbison tape on. Sometimes Ten City and Company B, you know ’80s electro, more like pop music in the ’80s. It kind of goes all over the place. The guys from Low were at our show last night, so I know that’s an influence on some of us, and obviously My Bloody Valentine, yes, that’s one. Just about everything you could think of.

daze: Do you guys each have your own favorite songs you like to play?

Brendan: Yea, I guess it depends on the night. As far as favorites, I don’t know — anything newish is always good. We’ve got this one Grateful Dead-ish kind of track. Well, it’s like how when the Grateful Dead slow down the bpm [beats per minute] to a large degree, and had a trumpet going through some effects — that one has been pretty good lately.

daze: I know your album is just being released around the world and you’re touring plenty, but do you guys have plans to record more material soon or are you happy with what you’ve got?

Brendan: No, we’re ready to record in January, maybe even December once we finish this tour. It’s … difficult to tell what we expect. We’re all hoping for the best.

daze: How do you think Toronto has influenced your music? Is there a particularly supportive artistic community there?

Brendan: Yea, it’s a pretty strong community. There’s Do Make Say Think, and Charles from our group plays with them, and the label Three Rut Records that puts out Royal City and the Constantines. We’re all at it for the same reasons ultimately; we all are striving to make a living and make honest music. There’s enough musicians in Toronto and they’ve been doing it for long enough that suddenly the right combinations are happening within a few different groups. And, it’s supportive for sure.

daze: You guys combine pop sensibility with experimental edges really well.

Brendan: Like any good pop record should be. None of us had any intention of trying to make an ordinary record because we do have a lot of eclectic influences. There’s just this desire to find sounds that aren’t heard as often, and hopefully, we’ve got some original sounds on the record that you haven’t heard on any other record. Or if you have, hopefully, we’re approaching it with our own type of thing going on