Last night was epic! So much excitement and nervous energy all culminated in a dizzying set. Operators killed it. Incredible 45 minute set of epic dance rock jams. With a sweet surprise at the end. Dave and Brian (aka Japandroids) plus Dustin Hawthorne (ex Hot Hot Heat) got on stage with Dan and Davojka to do their version of one of my favorite Wolf Parade songs, This Hears on Fire. Check the video below and links to glowing reviews of the show.
Operators play tonight and tomorrow at The Silver Dollar before heading to Montreal on Sunday to play Il Motore.
This week has been really fun. Thank you to all the people that emailed, tweeted, and messaged me. It really means a lot to hear from so many fans. Dan, Arlen, and the rest of the band are grateful to all the fans for keeping the Wolf Parade flame burning. Below you can read Arlen’s thoughts on that year and the recording of their first EP.
1. When was the first time you knew Wolf Parade was officially a band?
It’s weird to say, but I don’t really feel that Wolf Parade was ever officially a band. The project came together so fast & always felt like it was held together with spit & tape. The band always had a feeling that it could be over tomorrow. I think that was one of the things that made it great.
I don’t remember exactly the first time I saw Wolf Parade. But it was 2003 and Win from Arcade Fire was convinced he had discovered the best band in the world – he wouldn’t stop talking about these guys who had moved to Montreal from British Columbia, who seemed to epitomize so much of what Win’s band was not. Black-clad and dour, impulsive and surreal and dangerous. Win wanted to play with them, to record with them, to make an EP where the groups covered each other’s songs. I was less infatuated on my first impression – Wolf Parade seemed a little too hectic, a little too noisy, the songs too ramshackle or shredded. But my friend Dan Beirne was instantly smitten, and his enthusiasm – plus Wolf Parade’s exquisite first two EPs – made a champion out of me. Still, I have a clear recollection of the way I originally evaluated the Spencer Krug: “That guy is clearly an asshole,” I thought. It was in the wheeze of his keys, the jerk of his voice, the lay of his mustache. It took another five years to learn he was a sweetheart.
The Weather song was one of my favorite early Spencer songs that they played in their first half dozen shows or so but he decided he no longer liked it and that was that.
I think Dan is understating how shitty things were financially, how hard he worked and how much he had to persevere to get through the shit. He did shitty telemarketing jobs for years to make ends meet. I was always really impressed by his willingness to do whatever it took to get by in a city that is not always super hospitable to us uni-lingual anglos.
On this Thanksgiving day (in America at least) I am thankful for the role music plays in my life, and especially thankful to the band Wolf Parade. I’ve met so many amazing people through my love of this band. I’ve had many great adventures and am forever grateful to this band for their kindness and generosity.
With that being said, here is a gift to all the fans. The first two demos ever recorded! As Dan said in Part 3 of our discussion, two songs were recorded at the Hotel 2 Tango studio in Montreal in the summer of 2003. ‘This Heart’s On Fire’, and an unreleased song Spencer wrote which he called ‘The Weather Song’.
Last night I was reminded by a forum member of this early Sunset Rubdown demo ‘The Weather Can Turn on You’. When I found the video below I sent it to Dan to verify it was the same song which they demoed. He responded with “Yup that’s ‘The Weather Song’. So weird to hear that. That was right when we started. The Wolf Parade version is great.” Then suddenly I got an email from Arlen with the two demo songs attached!
So here you go, the original version of ‘The Weather Song’ and the two NEVER HEARD BEFORE DEMOS!!!
Thanks so much to Arlen for sharing these!!
Here is the final chapter in my discussion with Dan Boeckner about that first year in the life of Wolf Parade:
The success of our first EP is basically all Arlen. He made that EP from scratch and that kind cemented Arlen’s role as not just the drummer in the band, but also great at production and production arrangement. I mean everyone arranged the songs together, but he arranged the effects and production. It was basically recorded on an 8 channel mixing board and a PC. But that’s where Arlen found his voice as the producer guy in the band. We all worked on the production aspect of it but Arlen really knew what he was doing, he had the equipment. He always knew how to work everything. He knew how to put the delay pedal into the auxiliary send of the PA so we could have fancy vocals at practice. He knew how to turn the mixing board on, he knew how to wire the PA. He was that guy. That continued on as we built a studio and re-recorded a bunch of shit for Apologies. He found his role in the band besides being an amazing drummer.
The celebration continues with part 3 of my discussion with Dan Boeckner about the first year in the life of Wolf Parade.
We wrote Modern World and Dinner Bells and ended up recording the EP at Spencer’s house and we did some work on it at Arlen’s place. Modern World we used a drum machine on, a version of a Casio SK1 with 3 set drum accompaniment on it. When we would play that song live, Arlen would play the SK1 from behind the kit and basically just press play and do the fills and play keyboards. Spencer would play keyboards and I’d play guitar. So we were basically drum machine, keyboards, synth, and guitar. It was funny to me, when Handsome Furs started, how surprised people where that there was a drum machine and synthesizers on our first record. Wolf Parade, right up until the first record, was predominantly analog synth, guitar, drum machine, and no bass. All the bass were these deep analog bass parts that Spencer was playing with his left hand on the Jupiter.
The celebratory week continues with the next installment of my talk with Dan Boeckner about the formation of Wolf Parade and their first year as a band.
The original set up of the band was basically Spencer playing a Jupiter 4 keyboard and then a couple of other mini analog synths through these computer speakers and I was playing guitar, and that was it. We had some friends who were like ‘oh you guys are playing music together?’ We were saying we had a band, but we basically had like 6 songs at that point and didn’t have a drummer. That was when this Alex guy (Alex Megelas of Grenadine Records) basically put us on the bill of this show (opening for Melon Galia and Arcade Fire) without telling us. So leading up to this show we were like, ok we need to get a drummer. We both knew Arlen from Victoria. Arlen had been in Montreal for longer than either of us. We had one practice with him and it was great, it was really really good. We had another practice with him and that was that, ok Arlen’s in the band. Two practices and then we played the show. And that’s how the band started.
While the actual 10 year anniversary of the birth of Wolf Parade took place earlier this year (March), I have decided to celebrate now. In this week leading up to American Thanksgiving, we give thanks to the band Wolf Parade and celebrate their first year as a band.
In March of 2003, Wolf Parade was born. Each day this week I’ll be posting excerpts from my discussion with Dan Boeckner about that very year, the truth about how the band came to be, and the details surrounding the recording of their first self titled 4 song EP. Hopefully I’ll post thoughts from other surprise sources as well.
We begin at the beginning. In Victoria, British Columbia, Canada…
Spencer and I worked in this kitchen together in Victoria called The Bent Mast. That’s how we kinda met. It was 2001, I was playing in Atlas Strategic, and we had just gotten back from playing an aborted tour with Modest Mouse. 9/11 had just happened and we played 2 or 3 shows and then the rest of the tour got cancelled. I was working in this shit hole with Spencer, this restaurant called The Bent Mast, which was like a pub with pretty awful food and Spencer was working there. Spencer and a couple of his friends from the interior BC (Spencer’s hometown being Penticton, British Columbia) Jeff Allport who played drums in Atlas Strategic, and Kenny Ru. Jeff and Spencer were in a ska band (Two Tonne Bowlers) together. So Spencer was part of this group of kids who grew up together and he was playing in Frog Eyes with Carey Mercer, and we got to be friends. I think Frog Eyes played a few shows with Atlas Strategic. Then Spencer moved to Montreal. I think Atlas Strategic played his going away party. I moved out to Montreal shortly after him. I think he’d been there for like 8 months or something. I had kinda had it with Victoria, my mom had passed away so I just moved out to Montreal. As soon as I got there Spencer and I started hanging out and we decided we should start playing music together.
Stay tuned throughout this week for more from Dan about the beginning of Wolf Parade!!
So I discovered this amazing cover of Wolf Parade’s ‘Yulia’ today and needed to share it with all of you right away! As posted on AUX.TV, the cover is by Canadian artist Dan Griffin and you can download/stream it below.
In other news, the Jagjaguwar promotions department kicked things into overdrive last week. A few weeks ago many of you received the lovely letter from Spencer to Sarah as part of promotion for Moonface’s latest, Heartbreaking Bravery. Well this week we were all surprised to find in our mail boxes a letter from Sarah to Spencer:
A few years ago, there was talk about Adam Franklin of Swervedriver releasing a 7″ of his incredible cover of ‘Shine a Light’. Well the time has finally come! You can get one of the 250 limited edition 7″ now over at White Wale Records.
01 :: “Disco Sheets” – Wolf Parade
02 :: “They Took A Vote And Said No” – Sunset Rubdown
03 :: “Apollo and the Buffalo and Anna Anna Anna Oh!”-
04 :: “Stadiums And Shrines II” – Sunset Rubdown
05 :: “California Dreamer” – Wolf Parade
06 :: “You Are A Runner And I Am My Father’s Son” – Wolf Parade
07 :: “Idiot Heart” – Sunset Rubdown
08 :: “Snakes Got A Leg III” – Sunset Rubdown
09 :: “Bang Your Drum” – Wolf Parade
10 :: “Reture To The Violence Of The Ocean Floor” – Moonface
11 :: “Call It A Ritual” – Wolf Parade
12 :: “The Taming of the Hands that Came Back to Life” –
13 :: “I’ll Believe In Anything” – Wolf Parade
14 :: “Nightingale / December Song” – Sunset Rubdown
15 :: “Shut Up I Am Dreaming Of Places Where Lovers Have Wings” –
Check out Plants and Animals performing Wolf Parade’s “I’ll Believe in Anything,” during their ‘Live from Breakglass’ session at Breakglass Studios in Montreal during the Pop Montreal Festival, September 24, 2011. This cover is the B-Side on the band’s single release of “Lightshow,” out now on iTunes and will be available as a 7″ in late February.