Members of the sprawling Ontario art rock collective Broken Social Scene are on tour in support of founding member Brendan Canning's solo album Something For All of Us... It's the newest record in the "Broken Social Scene Presents" series, in which individual bandmates take charge to create their own set of songs, with varying degrees of collaboration from their fellow scenesters. (You'll recall that the first of these was Kevin Drew's Spirit If..., which established the trend for albums with ellipses.) Reviewing Something For All of Us..., Spin declares, "Brendan Canning makes the case that he might be the guy really responsible for the Scene's glisten, summoning goose bumps with gossamer strings and arranging rockers that simmer but don't singe."
Get your own goose bumps at the Brooklyn Masonic Temple on October 24th, when Canning will be joined by a seven piece band (maybe more) to play songs from Something for All of Us…, Kevin Drew's Spirit If… and fan favorites from the BSS catalogue.
What inspired the title, Something For All of Us...? I'm in a hotel lobby in Kansas City, MO, it's 2:30 a.m. and John Mayer is scatting in my ear. This is upsetting because I had a good answer for this one yesterday when I was on our bus but the Internet got disconnected and being a Luddite I couldn't figure out how to save the info. Somehow this information is relevant to the question, I swear.
Did you consider any other titles? Road Block to the Seven Chakras was the other title in the running.
Can you tell us anything specific about what inspired any of the songs on the album? During the making of the record I was spending time at the gym where they play the worst music. I think at some point I felt I had nothing to lose in making this record because I was hearing so many crap tunes on a daily basis that I could, at the very least, do better. That and living in Canada in the winter makes you want to spend time indoors and a studio ain't a bad place to spend it. Of course, this album took close to sixteen months and summers are meant for being outdoors so I kinda fucked myself. It's at this moment where I might bust into, "If I could turn back time..."
What about "All the Best Wooden Toys Come from Germany"? Where did the idea for that one come from? If you mean the title, my friend Jeff, in talking at length about his new son Felix one evening, remarked how all the best wooden toys come from Germany. To me this song sounds like little elves in the workshop. Then he started talking in a baby voice and I got a bit freaked out, I must admit.
What's the lineup on this tour? Since we're all on a first name basis: Charles, Leon, Sam, Justin, Kevin, Andrew, Liz and myself. Land of Talk first, then us.
Most nicknames are annoying but yours, The Champ, is pretty sweet. Did you come up with that yourself? Or are Canadian nicknames more generous than in America? Way back in the '90's when I drank more, my old bandmate Mark and I had this running gag where I was a drunk prizefighter taking swings at my manager. So then Mark would say, "Hey Champ, it's me Champ! It's me!" Then I would pretend to come to and that was the gag. The other part of the gag was to always use the definite article. As in, “Hey, The Champ! Could you pass the potatoes?” It's been with me since '94.
There is a documentary coming out soon that features you. What's that about? How did you like being filmed for a documentary? It was mostly fun because I really liked the director Bruce MacDonald and his very mellow crew. I have worked with Bruce on a couple of films so we have also been friends for some time. I wouldn't have had a stranger film me...hell, it's my life. That's personal.
What's your favorite venue to perform in in NYC and why? In December 2004 we did a three night stand at the Bowery Ballroom. I love that room and it felt like we had really arrived in NYC you know? Of course, Coney Island and Prospect Park ain't so bad either.
What do you recall about your first gig in NYC? For BSS it was our first show outside of Canada and we were on our way down to SXSW in Jason Collet's van, which would later need a new engine before we hit San Jose. The venue was North Six in Brooklyn and alongside Fiery Furnaces it was a showcase for Rough Trade Records. I remember thinking Eleanor from FF was pretty cute and I liked their band. I also remember that my ex and I seemed to be re-kindling.
What's the most memorable, crazy or awful experience you've had in NYC? I've had so many nights in NYC: MANY incredible, some pretty good, some just ok and some totally shit because that's life. So here's a fond memory: On July 4, 2006, my girlfriend and our friends Ryan and Anna went to a rooftop party in Williamsburg with about ten bands, fireworks and people fetching me beer and corn. Simple and fun.
What's the strangest fan interaction you've had so far? Life is full of strange and beautiful people. I could never single out one encounter because who knows what's gong to happen in Kansas City tomorrow, which is actually today because it's 3 a.m.
What are some of the best concerts you've attended of late? My Bloody Valentine, Sean Kuti, ThunderHeist and Wilco. Mostly I've just seen these bands at festivals because I don't really go to to many concerts per se.
Lastly, what have you been listening to these days? Aside from this shitty hotel lobby music, last night at Slowdown in Omaha I DJ'd as the opening act. Here's a glimpse of what I played: Eric Dolphy, Steely Dan, Devo, PIL, Sugar Minott, Swan Lake (the band). I borrowed the bartender Roger's records because I only had a few of my own and I wasn't sure how well solo piano from Sun Ra would go over. Otherwise I'm liking Common's last record, the new Land of Talk, Dr. Dog and the Nigerian Sounds compilation, the blue one. Part 2.