The End of That for Plants and Animals
Your previous albums have flowed together in a way where each song seems to lead into the next. Were the songs on this album intended to be more individual or did you take a similar approach? I feel as though this album has a different flow to the others.
Whenever we’re making a record we’re always thinking about it as a whole—from start to finish—until you have all the songs done and you start tweaking your song sequence. We go into the studio, record 14-15 songs and pick the best ones and figure out a way to put them together that makes sense. We spend a lot of time sequencing.
We asked a lot of our friends to help us and gave them the record. Basically we’d say, go to town and come up with a sequence. It was a consensus that was arrived upon from Woodley and Nic and a bunch of our friends. It took time. We had to go back to the mastering studio three or four times to change it. It’s definitely something we work on very hard. When we listen to the record from start to finish it does make sense. I think you’re right. It’s a different kind of record than our other records. I think the lines are a lot clearer—it’s not as foggy. But, not in a negative way, it just means it’s a different kind of story.
Once the record is done, I’ve only listened to it a couple of times, we all sit down and listen to the sequence at some point. And everybody, we all agree “Okay, that makes sense.” But, I haven’t really gotten to know the record. There’s something about it, once it’s done. I just rarely go back to get that familiar with it. I don’t know why. I guess just because I worked so hard mixing and you just get so saturated with it that you really need to take a break from it before you can go back and hear it again.
For awhile, after it was mixed, I was so stressed out. I didn’t know how things were sounding. I was just a mess. And then at some point everybody was happy. But, it still didn’t really click with me. I couldn’t tell what the record was. I didn’t know what we had done. It was only recently where, maybe by accident, the record came on at a party or something and I listened to it. I didn’t sit down in front of speakers and listen to it. I listened while people were over. It was the first time I had actually heard the record without actually listening to it. To hear what other people heard, as opposed to what I heard, because I worked on the details, the finest little things. It was so hard to actually hear the overall thing. It’s only recently that I feel like I actually heard what that record sounds like without being so critical of it. It was a good moment.
Have you come to accept it now? What are your thoughts on this album?
I’m proud of what we did and I’m really happy with the record. It was also the kind of record that made me keep working. As much as I like it, I also think there’s a bunch of doors that opened up that I want go through as soon as possible. I feel like we made some discoveries. We didn’t cover everything. I feel like we touched on some things and I’m excited to keep working.
I’m excited to see you guys bring this out on the road.
We’re traveling with a bass player now, so there’s four of us. I also just bought a Wurlitzer electric piano. The new record plays live really well. We went out on tour, just the three of us for years playing songs that had pretty large arrangements that definitely weren’t recorded just as a trio. We just did something completely different from what we recorded. We just re-arranged things to make sense to play live. We bring all our gear too, which is another thing that is great. That’s something we never had before. Whenever we recorded, we used whatever was at the studio and changed gear for different songs. We’ve kind of arrived at a point where, we have our gear, the sounds we’re searching for, and that’s it. That’s the sound of the record. That’s the sound we make when we play live.
How did you manage to bridge the gap from the jam-world and indie-world? What do you think it is about your music that has attracted jam fans and continues to attract them?
I think the jam community are really good listeners. They’re the ones who hear a lot of the work put into it. To other people who don’t really register music in that way, they might hear our music and say “Hey, that sounds like a nice song.” But, I think there’s deeper levels with what we’re doing musically that you can go into. I think that’s probably why the jam community gets into us because there’s really lots to listen to if you want to. I think they appreciate some of the interesting musical elements that we use.
Does bridging the gap between jam and indie community have anything to do with the Canadian music scene? Does the Montreal scene have a more open feel to it?
There’s a handful of really good musicians who work really hard over their life and put in a lot of time to be really good at what they’re doing. I think it lends itself to aspiring to be colleagues with songwriters who are really excellent at their instruments. I think as a community, there’s a certain bar that people are operating above, but it’s also very inclusive. It’s not snobby, in kind of like a jazz world where it’s all just chops. It’s not like that at all here. It’s basically just like a big kitchen party where everyone is playing guitar and instruments but everyone happens to be incredible. The Barr Brothers are insanely talented. I guess it’s just a fluke that all these people ended up here. It’s a really great community of musicians and people. And it’s not terribly trendy. There was the moment when Montreal was kind of indie, but now that’s gone. It’s just a big group of really good musicians.
As a Canadian myself, I am inclined to agree with you.
Yeah, and life is really easy up here. There’s the bullshit with the winter, but you get used to it. It’s not terribly expensive to live. There are lots of studios and people are always making records. And people aren’t struggling too hard to make a buck.