By Liam Prost
CALGARY — Said the Whale is a family values touring band, with matching lemon tattoos to boot. Every member of the band has a distinct sensibility, which challenges any sense of stagnancy from any of the corners. Every one of Ben Worcester’s family-fireplace folk is counter-balanced by a driving rhythm from their indispensable and surprisingly hard-hitting drumming while Jaycelyn Brown’s sparkly keyboard melodies round out the edges of Tyler Bancroft’s emboldened guitar-pop.
It’s been three years since hawaiii, a release the band has toured extensively. But wary of the perils of being “immersed in the music industry 100 per cent of the time,” the band took a well-deserved break, which Bancroft attests gave them the space to “redefine what the band was, and what it could be.” That perspective has helped the band “not just make a record that sounds like a Said the Whale record.”
With time on their side, the band planned a methodical approach to writing and recording their new full-length As Long As Your Eyes Are Wide, but things didn’t go entirely as planned. “The record we made ended up being a lot more spontaneous than we originally planned,” Bancroft tells BeatRoute, on a conference call with Worcester. “We started out this record cycle with the intention being that we would let the songs incubate… ironically, that’s not how it ended up happening at all.” Bancroft explains that the record came together in fits and spurts. “We recorded some of those songs… before we took them on the road, which is the opposite of what the point was going to be.”
Several of the songs on the record had humble beginnings at the Banff Centre, where Bancroft and Worcester took some time to hunker down and work independently on music without distraction, an experience Worcester hails as providing the requisite “space and time to be by [himself].” During the stay, “songs got deconstructed and rebuilt,” some of which would go right into the studio, and some of which would percolate for months thereafter, even developing live during their short ‘An Evening With’ tour.
As of publication of this article, the track “Step Into the Darkness” has been released from the new record. Other short clips released beforehand are keyboard arpeggios, guitar licks, or short vocal takes, of which Bancroft explains that “everything teased so far is actually on the record in one way or another.” Song Exploder fans know the joy of deconstructing the often dense production process, but when a song is finally in your ears, sometimes great ideas get lost in the bigger whole of the song. Bancroft attests that it’s “kinda fun to expose those little bits,” many of them are parts the band has worked extremely hard on, dialing in tones and refining melodies, and some of these “awesome little parts that don’t shine through in the final mix.”
With nearly 10 years and five records behind them, the band has developed a strong sense of self. “We’ve maintained a clear path,” Worcester opines, ”[to] make music our lives and try really hard to do a good job at our career so we can maintain our other lives… [that’s] what makes you want to make music.” Said the Whale has an extraordinary commitment to understanding themselves and what makes their music so expressive and beautiful. As Long As Your Eyes Are Wide carries many meanings for the band, but key for this record and for the band moving forward is being aware and open of themselves and world around them, willing to be surprised by the music they make, and to surprise listeners.
Said the Whale performs at BIG Winter Classic at Dickens in Calgary on January 19th, The Exchange in Regina on January 20th, Louis’ in Saskatoon January 21st, and at Shaw Conference Centre in Edmonton on February 4th. As Long As Your Eyes Are Wide comes out March 31st.AB, Alberta, As Long As Your Eyes Are Wide, BIG Winter Classic, BIG Winter Classic 2017, Dickens, Louis', Said the Whale, Shaw Conference Centre, The Exchange