Here is Part 3 of my discussion with Dan Boeckner:
We went up to Vancouver after the session (in Portland). The session had been pretty hard on everybody. I remember Hadji almost quit during it. It was fun and productive, to a point. We were a new band and we had never been in that kind of environment before. The only recording I’d ever done was at this studio in Victoria where they did Dayglo Abortions (Canadian punk band) records. That’s where all the Atlas Strategic stuff was recorded. And that was in this guy’s basement. So we had never been in a pro studio environment. It’s our debut record right, so there’s considerable amount of stress on the whole process and on us. Also the fact that we were totally fucking broke and stranded in Portland. We drove up to Vancouver Island and went our separate ways after the CBC Radio 3 session. I remember having to abandon our van on the way there because it was falling apart.
There was a very big dichotomy and battle between the assistant engineer and the actual engineer, named Chris Chandler. He was, at the time, doing front of house for Modest Mouse and Flaming Lips. Chris is a great dude. There were just tons of different mixes floating around. Chris’s mixes, Isaac’s sub mixes, and then Chris and Isaac’s mixes. Immediately after we finished recording in Portland we went up to Vancouver and recorded that CBC Radio 3 session. (November 1st 2004, see below). So that would have been a day or two after I had done that marathon vocal day. It’s funny because that session is like the introduction of my voice to a lot of people. It wasn’t an unrealistic portrait of what I sound like, but it was maybe a little exaggerated compared to what I settled into maybe 6 to 8 months later while touring.
Here it is for your listening pleasure, the CBC Radio 3 session:
Spencer describes what the song is about in this 2005 interview:
‘Grounds for Divorce’ is just about breaking up. The divorce is symbolic, it’s not a real divorce. It’s more like two people, one is like “glass is half full”, the other doesn’t think so. You’re with someone long enough and you think ‘oh, we might get married,’ which is just a random thought you have when you’re with anyone; some days it looks like you will, and some days it looks like you won’t. So that’s where the divorce bit comes in, it’s not super deep, just playing with what’s already imaginary. That particular line, the whale thing, comes from this time when this person I was with was like ‘I fucking hate the sound of city buses screeching’ and I said ‘Just pretend they’re giant whales, floating around the city, singing to each other’ and she was like ‘That’s stupid.’
Listen this version from EP 2, which you can purchase from Cheap Thrills
Apologies starts with Krug’s mousy “You Are a Runner and I Am My Father’s Son”– also included on the band’s self-titled EP– and Boeckner’s “Modern World”, but it really takes off with “Grounds for Divorce”. Honing in on one of the album’s main themes, the track finds a momentary beauty and romanticism within potentially alienating technology: “You said you hate the sound of the buses on the ground/ You said you hate the way they scrape their brakes all over town/ I said, ‘Pretend it’s whales, keeping their voices down.'” Spiraling behind Krug’s vocals, Boeckner mingles his guitar splashes with textured keys and a distant shout of affirmation.
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Quotes from Twitter
"Such were the grounds for divorce I know…But the darling is dead, We hit her on the head, It looked like a wedding cake" Ahh, Wolf Parade