It’s A Curse
Here’s the version from Wolf Parade’s 2004 self released 2nd EP:
Fan Made Video
I spoke with Spencer Krug about his memories from recording Apologies and how some of the songs were created. Here’s Part 1:
I remember driving to Portland from Montreal and halfway there being like ‘We’re only half way?” As we were getting closer it’s sort of dawning on us, just being like, why are we driving to Portland to make a record? This is insane. We live in Montreal. You know the travel anger just building up, the anxiety. We’re just like, what are we doing here? Then we got there and we went to Isaac’s house and he clearly was surprised to see us and didn’t expect us until at least the next day. He didn’t care, but that just right away showed how disorganized everything was. He was like ‘Oh yeah, fuck, you guys, right, yeah I booked the studio, we gotta do this. I wasn’t expecting to see you yet’. And us being like ‘I’m pretty sure we’re supposed to be here but you could be right’. In retrospect anyone could have been wrong about when we were supposed to be there, we were so disorganized.
The whole making of the record is a blur of staying sometimes at Isaac’s house; we couldn’t stay there the whole time. Staying in a couple different hotels and no one having any money and Sub Pop trying to put us up even though it’s not really part of their job description as a label to put up the band. I remember scrounging a bunch of change together to go get 5 7-layer burritos from Taco Bell. Literally digging for change out of the cushions of the van. I think we literally had to go to Isaac for money like ‘we have no money, we don’t know what to do, we need to eat’. Stuff like that was happening. But at the same time he was ordering jugs of Margaritas from the bar next to the studio for us to share. Margarita night! There was a definite time crunch though. I specifically remember about half way through Isaac saying ‘I keep hearing the word overdub over and over again, you guys can’t do that’. Everyone was being like ‘oh I’ll overdub it later, I’ll overdub it later’ and there’s this huge list of overdubs that was completely unrealistic. So we were like ‘oh yeah we have a limited amount of time here’. I think we spent a long time getting the bed tracks together, getting the drums feeling right.
I don’t think anyone had a vision for this record. I don’t think Isaac did or we did. It was the first real record that we’d made in a proper studio. From my understanding, it was the first time he was taking a crack at producing and we were all just kind winging it, flailing around and drinking too much. This guy Chris (Chandler) was there, he was the engineer. He was probably the most organized of the bunch. He kept us under wraps. He was the man behind the curtain. He helped to produce that record a lot I think, and helped all of us figure out what to do. Isaac did a great job with a band as disorganized and just sorta childish as Wolf Parade was back then. We’re still disorganized and childish, and this is over 10 years later. I can’t believe he got a record out of us at all. He did a good job with what he had to work with. It’s just that we were children.
(On the creation of ‘You Are A Runner and I am My Father’s Son). Everyone was out getting food or something and Arlen and I put that rif together just me and him. The beginning thing, and the chord progression for the whole song. It’s quite simple right, I just kinda whipped it up and was like ‘Arlen can you play drums’ and he did this weird thing where the drums didn’t really line up with the rhythm of what I was doing. And then there’s this moment of ‘let’s not fix that’ and ‘let’s keep that a little bit awkward like that’. Then it became a great rhythm once we got it tight. So we had the music and I remember writing the lyrics for that song in the basement of the studio kind of like right before I tried to sing them. There was a point then where Isaac was like, ‘this could be a great song but it just doesn’t have the energy, it’s not bombastic enough’. He was like yelling and getting everyone to keep playing it over and over again. It was fun. Isaac helped to build up the energy of a song like that, which ended up being one of my favorite songs on the record.
When we were in Portland Arlen and I wrote the tunes, like the structure, when everyone else was away. But Chris was in the room so we got him to record it. That’s like one of those magical quiet time moments that sometimes happen in studios. Where if you can get just a couple members together, while the other guys are busy, sometimes you weirdly can get more done really quickly. Sometimes really nice things happen. There’s a song on Mount Zoomer called ‘Call it a Ritual’ which was the same thing, just me and Arlen where the only ones in the barn for that 2 hour span and we put that chord progression and drum beat together. They’re almost the same, right? To me they’re kind of sister songs. Both piano and drum heavy.
As for the drive back to Montreal, I remember parts of that tour. I definitely remember the Rocket Bar show (which Dan mentioned) and I remember the promoter paying us $20. I remember that I didn’t want to play so bad that I said to Dan ‘let just play your songs, I don’t want to sing, I really don’t want to do this show’. Then everyone in the band was like ‘you can’t do that, you have to do it’. It was like ‘ok you’re right I have to do it’. So we just played the show and I remember it being horrible and the promoter showed up late saying ‘sorry I couldn’t be here, I had to be somewhere else and here’s $20’. That was a particularly bad way to end things. I remember those shows basically having no one there. But we were just trying to make our way back home, right. What’s the point of stopping for $20? It wasn’t even that big of a deal. We were young men, so what if we slept in the van and took turns driving and playing these shows. That show was shitty just cause the place was so shitty and the people were kind of shitty. But we just had to drive home and play some rock and roll shows on the way. We were just little kids back then, we had the energy. Like nowadays we’re like ‘oh I need a hotel’ but back then it was not a big deal.
— Sarah (@Sarski) February 9, 2012
If you don't know who Wolf Parade are you should…It's a curse – http://t.co/qoIHv6Mt
— MEG (@mclyte012) January 27, 2012
Fuuuuuuuck It's a Curse by Wolf Parade is such a great song.
— Janna (@fuckclevernames) October 13, 2011
Wolf Parade's "It's a curse" just may be the perfect rock song.
— Mia B. Gilligan (@MiaElizaB) August 14, 2010
I can't possibly harp on this band enough! "It's a Curse" by Wolf Parade– fantastic.
— Cait.Quintero_Weaver (@paperbird) March 10, 2008
Not sure how many people have heard these unreleased tracks. They’re from the 2005-2006 era and were played often at live shows during that time, so I thought it would be cool to stream them:
Arlen Thompson sent me these photos he took from Wolf Parade’s 2005 tour. Thanks Arlen! I’ll be posting my talk with Arlen tomorrow!
Here’s some general quotes and tweets about Apologies and some amazing fan art
“These Wolf Parade guys are assholes, because they put out one of the only rock albums I’ve liked in the past five or so years with Apologies to the Queen Mary”
Honus Honus of the band Man Man
Found this amazing painting by Montreal artist Peter Farmer:
This hilarious drawing from a website that put Miley Cyrus vs Wolf Parade
I love this illustration by Kagan McLeod
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