Broken Social Scene
Photo Credit: Dave Gillespie
By Evan O’Brien
Broken Social Scene is a Canadian indie rock collective founded by Brendan Canning and Kevin Drew in 1999. The group’s eclectic members, several of which swap instruments throughout a set, have been in various other groups and solo projects, and the variety of its construction comes through in its music; sometimes noisy, sometimes wistful, frequently a mix of chaos and focus, always unique. The band has also featured the talents of Leslie Feist, who one may know simply as Feist, Evan Cranley and Amy Millan of Stars, as well as Emily Haines of Metric.
Broken Social Scene is currently gigging as a core of Canning, Drew, Justin Peroff, Charles Spearin, Andrew Whiteman (AKA Apostle of Hustle), Sam Goldberg, and Lisa Lobsinger. They will release their highly-anticipated Forgiveness Rock Record on May 4th, which was recorded mostly in Toronto and produced by the band and John McEntire in Chicago.
We were able to catch up with Brendan Canning to discuss the record and how Korg played a role.
Korg: So how did you begin your journey as an artist/musician?
Brendan Canning: Oh, you know…like any good self respecting half Irish Catholic growing up in the suburbs, I turned to the devil for inspiration…and lots of AM radio…Fleetwood Mac, Steve Miller Band, Stevie Wonder, and probably Heart. Then you get into Kiss and Black Sabbath around ages nine and ten.
K: So you’ve got the new record coming out soon. What was it like putting new material together in the recording sessions?
BC: I feel like we might have gotten two albums in there so it was kind of a question of which album is which.
K: You Forgot It in People and the self-titled were both produced by David Newfeld...you guys incorporated some seemingly experimental recording techniques into those albums. Will the new release with John McEntire producing feature some of that unconventional engineering?
BC: Yeah, I think John and Dave are definitely very different people and have very different ways they like to work, so whether this is more conventional now- I don’t know. There’s no one like Newfeld…that’s as far as I can say, with my years of recording with different engineers and producers. I mean he’s just on his own tip. That’s not to say John McEntire is not on his own tip.
K: Right…his did great things with Tortoise and The Sea and Cake.
BC: I’d say Broken Social Scene, in general, is interested in finding sounds that are interesting and unconventional. It’s not just like who we work with but generally anything that’s going to excite me is going to be something that I’ve never heard before.
K: I figured that. How does working on a Broken Social Scene album differ, if at all, from doing a solo release like your Something for All of Us?
BC: Well, it differs because you’ve got that many more voices in the room, and that means many more opinions, many more ideas floating around. So yeah, it differs a lot.
K: And there are definitely quite a few voices…Did you guys have any other friends coming in on this recording?
BC: You’re going to end up seeing a lot of familiar faces or voices on the record.
K: Cool. Let’s talk gear a bit…You’ve recently been working with the Korg CX3 and worked that into recordings. Any favorite features?
BC: The main thing for me is having the drawbars as more of a real hands-on-feel and expression. We never really had much of a keyboard setup and it’s nice to have an organ like that where I can get behind it and feel good about pumping out some sounds and having fun with it. It’s just with certain keyboards, you don’t get the sense that you’re working with real instruments sometimes. So I feel that with the CX3, I’m playing a real instrument.
K: So do you guys use any other Korg gear? I’m sure I’ve seen a microKORG on stage.
BC: Yes, the microKORG has become the go-to for so many bands because it’s so portable and it’s got a lot of different sounds. I love the sounds on it. I can’t imagine doing a gig without at least one piece of Korg gear on stage with us. [Note: Drummer Justin Peroff obtained a Korg WAVEDRUM after this interview took place.]
K: That’s great to hear, Brendan…thanks. Well, anything else you’re working on that we should keep our eyes and eyes out for?
BC: I think we’ll just see how this record does for us and then we’ll move on to the next train of thought.
K: Sounds like a plan, Brendan. Thanks for talking with us!
Find out more about Broken Social Scene and Forgiveness Rock Record at www.brokensocialscene.ca