04 December 2007

"And I'ma let karma catch up to Jaz-O, whoa."

Part II of this little recap. F.F. Coppola made the rules. II > I.

Here's a nice little New Pornos write-up; Newman is a cordial dude. The K.Drew piece, though, is one of my favorites almost solely based on the gem that he dropped at the end. I included the whole thing after the jump. Trust a recommendation, I dare you.

The New PornographersSpeaking on his band's website The New Pornographers' frontman Carl "A.C." Newman addressed the subject matter of the title track to the group's new album Challengers, noting the song's "convoluted subtext." He continued, referencing a quote by author Albert Camus that he found in the lyrics to a Scott Walker album:
"Work is nothing but the slow trek to rediscover, through the detours of art, those two or three great images in whose presence his heart first opened."
But catching up with Wireless Bollinger from a tour stop in New Orleans, Louisiana, Newman was candid, his clarity startling. READ THE REST
Bonus Live Review: The doorman at Webster Hall was perturbed. He had just been informed that the show was over and soon hundreds of satisfied fans would be pouring passed him and back on to the rainy street. "Are you sure that's it or are they going to do it again?" he shot back crossly over walkie-talkie. The night's headliners, Canadian don't-call-'em-a-supergroup The New Pornographers, had just finished their last of two encores, fitting finales for a star-studded night. READ THE REST

Kevin DrewThe Broken Social Scene tag strikes fear in the heart of venues and their sound technicians; stages quake under the weight of its ten-plus musicians. The moniker also implies a level of grandiosity where an individual song's layers may include dozens of tracks until the sonic haze sounds thick, busy, distorted, and garbled – but chaotically beautiful. And so for the group's co-founder (and mouthpiece), Kevin Drew, when it came time to do something on his own, it really wasn't on his own at all.

The New Pornographers Entering White Cecilia
Kevin Drew Cocaine Skin

"Once I went as far as I could and felt satisfied, I could feel the longing of what I knew so well which was my friends from Social Scene. As we had more people come into the studio, it was hard not to have everyone there in the end. I love watching and listening to people play on songs I have written." Drew said, in reference to the 20-plus guest musicians on his new album.

As Drew continues, he insists that the process did not go against any distinct yearnings for individuality. "I wasn't trying to prove I could do anything on my own," he said. "I was just trying to guide something from myself with people I like to create with."

Born from this collaborative love was Spirit If…, a marathon 14-song collection that never strays too far from the signature Social Scene scope (vast and crowded), but with a hint of autonomy from the Kevin Drew side of things. Where BSS records feature tracks lead by everyone from Drew's co-founder Brendan Canning to Andrew Whiteman (aka Apostle of Hustle), Amy Millan (of Stars), Emily Haines (of Metric), and the ubiquitous Leslie Feist, Spirit is dominated by Drew's dreamy whisper and frenzied howl, often in the same song. Helmed by long-time collaborators Ohad Benchitrit (of Do Make Say Think) and Charles Spearin, it was this project's core which lead Drew to the thin-ice that is a solo album.

"Ohad let me puke all over the place with my ideas and content," said Drew. "It was becoming clear through the subjects and the chords that it was headed in a solo direction for me and it became my home for a while." Thus, the individuality of the record comes from a far more philosophical place. "In this home I started to be able to do whatever I wanted and had no obligations to anyone except my own honesty."

In all, the process really was not so different from what Drew has been directing since he started Broken Social Scene with bassist/vocalist Brendan Canning with the 2001 release of the then-duo's largely instrumental album Feel Good Lost. "After Feel Good Lost was finished, we attempted to learn songs for a show but we ended up writing new songs and started singing anthems," recalled Drew.

From there, the numbers grew and the Scene became a wide-reaching web, as musicians with their own projects were often happily trapped in a giant co-operative Canadian musical collective. But after two more LPs, 2002's flawless You Forgot It In People and 2005's massive Broken Social Scene, the band hinted at an indefinite hiatus, and Drew was quoted as saying, "We've lost that thing that we had at the beginning where we tried to challenge each other."

During the interim, the members' individual works – far from vanity projects to begin with –
starting reaching unforeseen heights. The international success of Feist's The Reminder, and her presence from Starbucks shops to iPod adverts, is only one example of the success of the Arts & Crafts (the label Drew co-founded in 2002) alum world-wide. When asked about competition between main projects, side projects and collectives, Drew sounded his most unsteady, diverting from his usual mantra-spitting positivity.

"We used to challenge each other – on a musical level," he said. "Now the people have chosen who the bands are they love and we’re just trying to make sure that we follow our own path."

So Spirit If… -- a record about "believing in the beauty of a belief again and not about the fear of being crushed every time we walk outside" -- was his version of a big bandage. "It was more about making music again as friends. What this record, in my mind, was going to do was keep us together – as it felt like we were falling apart."

The album, his life preserver for a huge sinking ship, bears the tag "Broken Social Scene presents…" – a testament to a hope of putting it all back together again. Canning's own solo record, the supposed next installment in the series, is labeled a "a John Denver/Sonic Youth album" by Drew, and he sounds optimistic about the future of the collection. "We wanted a new outlet for more music that can't fit under the band’s name but also wanted to stay within the brand that we had worked so hard creating," said Drew on the choice to include the group's name. "We wanted to stay with our fans."

But with the series just getting started, Drew remains wary of become solely a brand, and no longer a band. Astoundingly articulate and brutally honest, Drew's raw words carry the most weight – nostalgic for yesterday and hopeful for tomorrow:

"I want to get back to the way it was in general. I want to be able to sit with friends again at the dinner table and be short $150 when the bill arrives, because someone never thinks of the tax and tip. I want to be able to be on stage and close my eyes and know I’m surrounded by these people I love and admire. I want the success of all their bands to never truly be as successful as when we play music together but then at the same time, I just want everyone to be happy." PUBLISHED HERE


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