• By: Keith Whittier

Said The Whale Focus In

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Shrinking down their band and dealing with loss not only shaped Said The Whale's time away, but found them reconciling this on record. Down to a trio, the indie pop band has gone more synth infused, and brought with that a whole new sense of darkness. Bringing a surprising new sound on their record As Long As Your Eyes Are Wide, they'll be sure to surprise at their Tim Horton's Dragonboat Festival set on June 22nd. We caught up with Tyler Bancroft to talk about the band's recent lineup switches, keeping positive and all they've learned in their ten years as a band.

Ottawa Life: How has it felt rearranging the band's dynamic since Nathan left and Brad took over drum duties?

Tyler Bancroft (Said The Whale): In the studio and writing-wise the dynamic has totally shifted, in a more freeing way. There's just less cooks in the kitchen, less compromise. So with a pairing down of creative forces, it has focused our creative process.

Was this member and dynamic change also party responsible for the sonic shift of this latest record or was that in the plans before any personnel changes?

I think more than anything, the member change has made that an easy process. We always want to be creating music that's interesting to us and music we'd listen to. It was a natural progression. I can't say for certain what would have happened if there was some alternate timeline. I can say it wasn't like we sat down and had a decision to make a sonic shift, it happened naturally.

What unforeseen changes have the programmed drums brought about, and how do you adapt that live?

All the drums on the record are live. The programmed are few and far between on the record. Writing the songs though we did use all programmed beats and then played them live afterwards. The difference was rather than having it be Spencer's way, it was our way. Cayne who produced the record, had a lot to say about the progressive elements, there was no less care but it was just put in by different people.

Considering the cheeky lyrical style you've been running for so long, why do you think its important to bring humour to dark subject matter?

Of course, that's what keeps people going. There isn't so much humour on this record, but there is a lot of hope. That's where we've always shone, is trying to stay positive and try and find hope in dark situations. It's something you have to do all the time as an independent band. You hear no a lot so that ethos has trained us the light side in situations that would otherwise be overwhelming and debilitating.

How did you start working with Cayne McKenzie and what did he bring to the record?

We've been friends for a long time, we've always championed his band and he's championed ours. We're working on "Step Into The Darkness" and we were just trying to find a better bass-synth tone, and we all knew Cayne is kind of a sonic wizard when it comes to synths. He easily dialed in this bass synth tone we'd been searching for all day. Then he wasn't doing anything that day and suggested a bunch of other changes for that song, we built the intro, worked the bridge, and thought "I guess you're producing this song with us." He came back the next day and the next day, we all had such a great experience making music with him that we asked him to produce the rest of the record and he ended up producing seven of the ten songs. He's very talented with sound design and making sonic textures, and he's got a very positive way of working and goes from one idea to the next. 

10 years on with the band what's the biggest lesson you've learned from all your time as a band?

That's tough. Staying positive in negative situations is something we've learned through our ups and downs. It's easy to have your dreams crushed so we just try to keep the ball rolling and be thankful for what we have.

What's coming up next for you in 2017?

We don't have anything set in stone yet but we're definitely planning more touring, we're raring to go and be on the road. It's easy to remember why you're in a band on the road. We want to make an effort to stay on top of writing music too, because you get home from a tour and can forget and let it fall by the wayside.