Smile Politely

Broken Social Scene: An Interview with Brendan Canning

Thanks to student organization, Starcourse, the Toronto super group Broken Social Scene will be making its way to Champaign-Urbana this Sunday, October 19. Brendan Canning, co-founder of the band, took time out of his busy schedule to chat with Smile Politely over the phone.

Smile Politely: So, you guys are coming here in a couple weeks. How do you feel about Champaign-Urbana?

Canning: To be honest I really don’t know. Last time we were there it was a rainy night, and we only saw about two blocks of the town. The band the Poster Children in the ‘90s were from Champaign.

SP: So was REO Speedwagon…

Canning: Yeah, I like those guys too. I could probably sing you an REO Speedwagon song before I could sing you a Poster Children song.

SP: Was the revolving cast of characters in BSS something you sought out and pursued, or did it just happen?

Canning: It just kind of happened. We just happen to have a lot of friend who play music. As we continued to travel around the world we sort of picked up musicians everywhere. It’s become a thing.

SP: Did you guys approach them about it, or how did that work out?

Canning: Often times our tour manager will approach the promoter and say, “Hey we’re looking for horn players or a singer.” That kind of thing. We were in Singapore with Parliament Funkadelic and we had their saxophone player play with us. We were in Mexico and we had two different singers sing with us.

SP: Canada has recently become sort of a music capital of the world. When do you think that switch was and why did it happen?

Canning: I think once people see a few bands succeeding, maybe people look at us and say, “Look at those guys; they’re not that great.” I’m sure that’s what Tokyo Police Club thought about Broken Social Scene. They probably said, “Oh come on. If these guys can get big, surely we can.” It just happens.

SP: How did the Broken Social Scene Presents idea come about?

Canning: Sort of out of necessity for Kevin and myself to have something more of our own, but still sort of stay within the BSS realm of things. I don’t think either record was a huge departure, and when those are integrated with other BSS songs we play, it all just sounds like music we would make. Nothing sticks out like a sore thumb.

SP: Are other members of your band thinking about doing solo records too?

Canning: Andrew Whiteman has Apostle of Hustle and Charles has another record coming out next year. Everyone has something. Kevin, myself and Justin didn’t have another band, so Justin is kind of the thread between both records.

SP: How was making your record different from making a Broken Social Scene record?

Canning: Just having to rely on myself more, you know, not being able to defer as much. I enjoyed it a lot of the time, and a lot of the time I was wishing there were other people in the mix. It’s something that I was lucky enough to be able to do, and lucky enough to have people to work with at the time.

SP: How long did that record take to make?

Canning: Off and on for 16 months. It’s a lot of work but there’s also a lot of “studio hang time” that could probably be avoided.

SP: In your opinion, what is the best show BSS has ever put on?

Canning: There’s too many to just pick one. Imagine, last night could have been it. It could be tonight. It could be in Champaign, you just never know. We’ve had lots of fun shows before. Istanbul was pretty good, so was San Francisco, the Phoenix Club in Toronto in 2003.

SP: Is playing music for a living something you always knew you wanted to do?

Canning: Up until age 12, I thought I could be a pro soccer player.

SP: Who’s going to play with you when you guys come to C-U?

Canning: I can tell you exactly who’s in our lineup. It will be myself, Charles Spearin, Sam Goldberg, Andrew Whiteman, Kevin Drew, Justin Peroff and Liz Powell.

See Canning and the rest of Broken Social Scene at Foellinger Auditorium. Tickets are $25 UIUC students/ $28 public and are on sale at the door. Land of Talk is taking opening duties and the show starts at 7:30 p.m.

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