12 Days of Apologies – Day 11 – Dinner Bells

Track 11 on Apologies to the Queen Mary is Dinner Bells

Listen to this super early version of Dinner Bells from Wolf Parade’s 2003 self released EP 1. That EP also has an incredible version of Modern World, early song Wits or a Dagger, and live favorite Secret Knives.


The live version of Dinner Bells was so epic and beautiful. It was my absolutely favorite part of the live set in 2005/2006. Listen to this version from 8/28/2006 at the Fox Theatre in Boulder, CO with Frog Eyes. That tour Frog Eyes supported Wolf Parade and would come on stage sometimes during this song.

The live version lyric that kills me every time: ‘You love and you love and love till it all goes away’


Freelance journalist and Polaris Juror Erik Leijon submitted this piece about Dinner Bells:

Dinner Bells is one of those songs I hardly listen to anymore because I wore it out the first time around. Although I’m born and raised in Montreal, the release of Apologies coincided with my semester abroad in Colorado. I bought the album (and Depeche Mode’s Playing the Angel) at Finest CD in Fort Collins, CO with a credit card my mother had given me for emergency purchases. When I got back to Montreal that spring, I spent hours at home listening to the sorrowful, dirge-y, under-appreciated Dinner Bells, which suited my mood of missing the place I had just been to and unsure of whether I really wanted to come back home. Later that April the band played Le National and I saw them give one of the best drunken performances I’ve ever seen, and it jolted me back into reality. Dinner Bells, though, remains stuck in that time. Too inextricably linked to a very specific period in my life, which a song can sometimes do.


Fan Made videos

Watch this tremendous music video for Dinner Bells made by Evan Carson: https://youtu.be/s8AhXHrf1B4


Here is an excerpt from Part 2 of my talk with Spencer:

The creation of ‘You are a Runner…’:
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 ‘lets not fix that’ and lets 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 being one of my favorite songs on the record.


I spoke with Arlen Thompson about the recording process and some of the more technical things (that I know a lot of people have asked me to find out):

We were kind of thrown into this process of making a record. I don’t think, at the time, anyone in the band had really made a full record. It was all really new and and we didn’t really know what we were doing. We were working with Isaac, and he had really specific ideas of how he wanted to do this, but there was zero pre production. Which is usually something that you at least do a little bit of before. So we were trying to do this pretty high production value sound so we had click tracks that we did a bunch of the drums to. It was actually kind of a struggle technically to get things going because we hadn’t planned too much on tempos and that kind of thing. We just were a band just playing in a jam room and we had made those EP’s which were all kinda like 4 track style basically Throw some mics in a room and press record. Now we were getting into the sphere of a more contemporary recording. We did do it on tape, we used 2” tape on a Studer machine. We had a console; I think it was a Broadcast Neve from the 80’s. Chris Chandler he was kind of the unsung hero of that whole record. He was like the glue that held all that total madness together. Isaac was doing his best but he was super busy with Modest Mouse and we had no idea what we were doing and we were totally broke. Chris helped keep everything moving along.


Check the main Dinner Bells page for additional fan made videos, the rest of part 2 of my talk with Spencer, and for part 1 of my talk with Arlen.

12 Days of Apologies – Day 10 – It’s A Curse

Track 10 from Apologies to the Queen Mary is 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. You can read the full post here
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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.


Arlen Thompson sent me some great photos he took while Wolf Parade where on tour in 2005.

Backstage opening for Arcade Fire at the Paramount in Seattle, tour ’05
Tour Fall 2005 051


avemaria_670-drømsjel
This piece is titled ‘Wolf Parade’ and created by German artist Drømsjel. Please visit his website and see his incredible work. You can buy this and other digital prints of his here.


See more amazing art, Arlen’s tour photos, and read the rest of my talk with Spencer Krug on the main It’s A Curse page.