Silly Like an Old Man’s Tattoo – An Interview with Said the Whale

25 09 2009

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I spent a good while running around the basement of the Strathcona trying to find Said the Whale. I almost found them once, but the lights went out and I lost them. After a beer and a bathroom break, I finally sat down with Ben and Tyler.


Adrian Markle: Let’s talk name. Said the Whale. What’s behind it?

DSC_0046Ben: It was a brain child of Ben and Tyler. You give your child its name, and it has to live with it its whole life. It was that kind of thing. Hopefully it won’t end up being silly like an old man’s tattoo. There was no long story, but it seemed suitable for what we were trying to do.

AM: Islands Disappear drops in October. What’s it about? The Magician EP is a lot more upbeat than Howe Sounds. IS this a trend that will continue, or was it a one off? Also, why an EP and a Full Length within six months? Too long, or is there something about the songs that necessitates their separation?

Tyler: I’d say it’s about half upbeat, half slower. We just weren’t going to put sixteen songs on the album.

Ben: And the performance, right? It’s good to have the same people on stage as on the record. It’s more consistent, more true.

Ben: I think that the songs we put on the E.P. could stand alone the easiest.

Tyler: Only very slightly. It was a matter of flow. I think they work really well in the way we’ve organized them so we put them on there so they’d exist.

Ben: In real life, not just in cyber space.

Tyler: I’m excited about it. It’s also the first time we’ve had the same line-up who have recorded the album playing itDSC_0053 on stage and touring it, which is awesome. It’s made huge difference. Everyone is totally behind it now. Everyone who’s ever been in the band was really great to be around, but it’s different knowing that the people in the bands are in the band.

AM: Your sound is really fun, upbeat, bouncy. Do you think that you run the risk of being written off for that? People often dismiss upbeat music, for no real reason.

Tyler: No, I don’t think so. I think even just our first record showed enough diversity that anyone who’s heard us knows that we have songs that range from the most mellow ballad to the most upbeat pop song.

Ben: Camillo is the most upbeat song we have, the one that makes it onto the radio all the time, but Curse of the Currents is the most requested song at shows, and it’s one of our mellowest.

Tyler: People get into one and then move on to the other besides it’s not like quitting.

AM: Do you like playing big festival shows, where not everyone is going to know your work, or smaller headlining shows?

Ben: We played NXNE. The show was awesome. We played with Will Currie and The Country French. Bands I’d go see if I wasn’t playing. It also gives you a chance to shine through. To make fans of people who don’t really know you.

Tyler: I love festivals because they give you a chance to meet other bands, and maybe hang out with them and make new friends.

Ben: Plus, in Toronto you always see your friends from Vancouver there playing shows, so you always seem to know people, even if you’ve never been there.

AM: Speaking of Van, you’re a pretty outwardly Vancouver band. Your Rifflandia bio is actually just descriptions of the city and a picture of you. Where did this sense of regionalism come from?

DSC_0064Ben: When you live in a place your whole life, and you write from personal experience, there’s no way to avoid it. It affects you deeper than you know sometimes.

Tyler: That being said the new record has a tonne of influence from all over Canada. The first album was all Vancouver, this one has a lot of references from all over, though we definitely haven’t ignored Vancouver.

Ben: When it’s personal experience, you have to have lived it, and now we’ve just lived more. We’re always doing more. We’re going to the Maritimes for the first time.

AM: What do you think that will be like?

Ben: I think it’ll be like the rest of Canada, only the part we haven’t been to.

AM: Do you surf?

Tyler: I don’t surf. I tried it once. It didn’t go so well.

Ben: I’ll try it once when all the cool kids aren’t doing it at the same time.

AM: Have you already started planning what to do afterward?

Tyler: No, but I think the plan will get planned soon. Somewhere new would be nice.

Ben: Somewhere warm.

Tyler: I don’t really want to tour in Canada in December January. Let’s start with our neighbours to the south; but really, we’ll take whatever.

Ben: And the US has Carl’s Junior.

AM: Is there anywhere you absolutely love playing?

Ben: Anywhere people go to see music.

Tyler: And a big stage is nice. And somewhere to put that giant van.

Ben: How they treat the band, too. That makes a big difference. We haven’t had too many bad experiences, but there are places that are amazing. Like Phog lounge is amazing. And Lethbridge, People say it’s a shit town, but those guys love to party and listen to music. And they have big buck hunter there.

AM: We have Big Buck Hunter here.

Ben: Really?

AM: I challenge you. After the show.

Ben: That’s amazing. I’m in.

—Adrian Markle

photography by Casey Bennett

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