KNITTING FACTORY PRESENTS
Wolf Parade & Japandroids
The soaring choruses, rousing anthems, sprawling guitars and chaotic keys that make up Wolf Parade are on proud display over the course of Cry Cry Cry, the band's thunderous first album in seven years.
That unique combination of sounds and influences, spearheaded by electric co-frontmen Spencer Krug and Dan Boeckner-a complex yet relatable, energetic brew of glam, prog, synth-rock, and satisfying discomfort-helped define 2000s indie rock with three critically celebrated albums, and propelled a growing Wolf Parade fandom even after the band went on a then-indefinite hiatus in 2010.
The upcoming return marks their first to be produced by Pacific Northwest legend John Goodmanson (Bikini Kill, Sleater-Kinney, Unwound) at Robert Lang Studios outside of Seattle, and is accompanied by a renewed focus and the creativity of a band that took their time getting exactly where they needed to be. It's also a homecoming to Sub Pop, which released all three of the band's previous albums.
"The band itself is almost a fifth member of the band, something more or at least different than the sum of its parts," says Krug. "We don't know who or what is responsible for our sound, it's just something that naturally and consistently comes from this particular combo of musicians."
"Once we got back together, I was playing guitar, writing and singing in a way that I only do while I'm in Wolf Parade," says Dan Boeckner, who shares primary lyrical and singing duties with Spencer. "It's just something that I can't access without the other three people in the room."
In the time apart, the band scattered geographically and focused on family and other work--Spencer on his solo project Moonface, Dan on his bands Handsome Furs, Operators, and Divine Fits (with Spoon's Britt Daniel), and Dante De Caro on records with Carey Mercer's Frog Eyes and Blackout Beach. And that time allowed for an even stronger, tighter band to emerge.
Eventually, Spencer, Dante, and Arlen found themselves all back living on remote Vancouver Island, accompanied by a population density less than that of Alaska, and the tranquility that leads to creative emanations like a government-sponsored bathtub race. With Dan on the same coast in Northern California, discussions began about picking things up where they left off.
"All of our albums are always a reaction to our last one," says Arlen. "Expo 86 (2010) was about as sparse as we get, which is usually still pretty dense, and this time we wanted to make the palette a little larger." Adds Dante, "Expo was a real rock record. We just sort of banged it out, which was kind of the point." Cry Cry Cry, on the other hand, is more deliberate in its arrangements and embrace of the studio process. "If a part was going on for too long it would get lopped, you know?" says Dan. "That being said, there are two very long songs on the record and I don't think it would be a Wolf Parade record if it didn't have some kind of prog epic."
"I think we're actually a better band than we were when we stopped playing music together," says Arlen. "A little bit more life experience for everybody, and people having made a bunch of records on their own."
The result of this new consciousness is songs like "Valley Boy," a Bowie-inflected anthem for which Spencer wrote lyrics after Leonard Cohen died the day before the 2016 election ("The radio's been playing all your songs, talking about the way you slipped away up the stairs, did you know that it was all gonna go wrong?"). "You're Dreaming," also influenced by the election and the spinning shock that followed, is driving, urgent power pop that draws from artists like Tom Petty and what Dan calls one of his "default languages" for writing music. The swirly, synth-heavy crescendo of "Artificial Life" takes on the struggle of artists and at-risk communities ("If the flood should ever come, we'll be last in the lifeboat").
The album carries a sense of uprising that is not unrelated to Wolf Parade's renewed determination to drive the band forward in uncertain times. Welcome to Cry Cry Cry.
Let's rage against the night
- "Lazarus Online" (Spencer Krug)
HARD FACTS on Near To The Wild Heart Of Life by Brian King (October 24, 2016)
2012-2013: DEATH BY TOURING
Our second album, Celebration Rock, was released on June 5, 2012. In support of that album, we embarked on what seemed like an endless world tour. The so-called "Celebration Rock Tour" began on March 8, 2012 in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and would continue, through heaven and hell, for nearly two full years. On November 10, 2013, after performing over 200 shows in over 40 countries, we played our final show in support of Celebration Rock in Buenos Aires, Argentina. We would not perform live again for three years.
2014: FROM STAGE TO PAGE
Having finally freed ourselves from the tentacles of touring, we decided to take the first half of 2014 off in order to rest and recover from the road. During this time, I moved from Vancouver to Toronto (and later, Mexico City), redefining our notion of 'home' and totally transforming the way we write/work. In the fall of 2014, we reconvened in New Orleans, renting a house where we could both stay and play while immersing ourselves in the sights and sounds of one of our favourite cities. As a slow and steady schedule of writing/rehearsing in Vancouver was no longer possible, we would spend the next year writing/rehearsing in similarly short and sporadic sessions together, always alternating between the handful of cities we now call (collectively) home.
2015-2016: THE DIFFICULT THIRD ALBUM
Our third album, Near To The Wild Heart Of Life, was written clandestinely throughout 2014 and 2015 in Vancouver, Toronto, New Orleans, and Mexico City.
It was (mostly) recorded by Jesse Gander (who had previously recorded both Post-Nothing and Celebration Rock) at Rain City Recorders in Vancouver, BC (September-November, 2015). One song, True Love And A Free Life Of Free Will, was recorded by Damian Taylor at Golden Ratio in Montreal, QC (February, 2015). The album was mixed by Peter Katis at Tarquin Studios in Bridgeport, CT (May, 2016) and mastered by Greg Calbi at Sterling Sound in New York, NY (July, 2016).
Like Post-Nothing and Celebration Rock, the album was sequenced specifically for the LP. On Near To The Wild Heart Of Life, side A (songs 1-4) and side B (songs 5-7) each follow their own loose narrative. Taken together as one, they form an even looser narrative, with the final song on side B (song 8) acting as an epilogue.
SOFT FACTS on Near To The Wild Heart Of Life by Brian King (October 24, 2016)
IDEAS, DREAMS, AND EXPERIENCES
The title, Near To The Wild Heart Of Life, comes from a passage in the novel A Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man by James Joyce:
"He was alone. He was unheeded, happy, and near to the wild heart of life."
While reading Near To The Wild Heart by Clarice Lispector, I was inspired to try and write a song that mimicked both the style and structure of the novel, somehow hoping to retain what I could of the tone and themes, while at the same time incorporating my own ideas and experiences. Sometime later, in an obsessive bid to learn as much as I could about Clarice Lispector, I discovered that she had borrowed the title of her novel from Joyce's novel, and upon reading his novel, I was only inspired further and rewrote the song in an attempt to incorporate aspects of both novels. And although I would eventually abandon this idea in favour of my own account of awakening, the indirect influence of both novels (and in particular that passage) remained both intact and undeniable. Accordingly, we named the song Near To The Wild Heart Of Life.
Sometime later, and in spite of the fact that naming an album after its first song (and/or first single) had long fallen out of fashion, we named the album Near To The Wild Heart Of Life.
In 2006, we recorded our first EP, All Lies, using a simple strategy: to try, as best as we could, to recreate the raw energy and reckless abandon of our live show in the studio. In the years that followed, we would record another EP, an album, and several singles - always refining (but never wavering from) that same simple strategy.
In 2011, we recorded our second album, and in spite of its imperfections, felt like we had finally captured whatever it was that we'd long been chasing. Since then, we've been in search of a new strategy. If Celebration Rock was the culmination of something, then Near To The Wild Heart Of Life can be considered the beginning of something else.