By Jason SchneiderHailing from the highly fertile Montreal scene, Plants & Animals are poised to make a powerful first impression on the rest of the country. The trio, comprised of guitarist/vocalists Warren Spicer and Nic Basque, along with drummer Matthew Woodley, draw many diverse musical elements into a generally roots-based sound, one that is sure to carve out a unique place among their Montreal peers once their full-length debut album, Park Avenue, is released in January. In the meantime, the Wood, Wires & Whisky tour will provide ample opportunities for audiences to get fully acquainted with the band's indefinable magic.
How do you feel about being a part of the Wood, Wires & Whiskey tour? Woodley: Terrible! (laughs) No, I think we’re pretty excited. In one of our previous bands, we did some shows with the Acorn, so it’ll be good to play with those guys again.
So I understand you’re hard at work finishing a new EP in time for the tour? Woodley: Yeah. Our first full-length album, Park Avenue, won’t be out until January, so we wanted to put out something to coincide with all the shows we’ll be doing in the fall. The EP’s called With/Avec, and it’s more like a bite-size teaser. There are four songs, and one of them, "Faerie Dance,” will also be on the full-length. We thought it would be nice to have something people could take home from the shows.Basque: Really, we’re just doing it because we can’t get enough of being in the studio.
The first EP you put out two years ago was fairly acoustic-based. What can people expect from your latest music? It’s already being described as "earth rock.” Spicer: We’ve decided that we’re classic rock now, or post-classic rock. There are still some rootsy elements to it though, I suppose. The music’s got a lot of energy now, and we like to have fun on stage and get people involved — keep it entertaining for the whole family.
You’re also known for having many diverse elements to your sound as well, such as the Arcade Fire’s Sarah Neufeld, and country singer Katie Moore guesting on the upcoming album. Are you planning on having any extra musicians on stage? Spicer: Probably not, although we’ve done that before with shows we’ve played in Montreal. It was great to have so many people add to the sonic tapestry of the album, but it’s harder to tour with extra people like that. Still, who knows what will happen? I think though, despite having a lot of different instruments on the record, we can do quite a bit with two guitars and drums live.
Is it a challenge to take what you’ve done in the studio and reproduce it live? Basque: No, not really. We’ve been playing most of these songs live for some time now, and we understand what they are at their core. So as long as we’re able to stay in touch with what that core thing is about each of them, we’re able to get it across on stage.
I guess I have to ask the obvious question too about being a part of the Montreal scene. Is there still a lot of mystique attached to that? Woodley: It is kind of interesting that people are still talking about that a few years later. We actually haven’t played much outside of Montreal, but we’re about to now. So not having lived in any other city, or been a part of any other scene, it’s kind of hard to compare. But it’s definitely really good here. People have raised the bar pretty high, musically, and the venues are really fantastic. There are a lot of fans here too, and I guess that’s the first thing we notice whenever we go to another town where people don’t know us.
I think you guys follow that pattern of other Montreal bands in being almost totally unclassifiable. Is that fair to say? Spicer: Well, I’ve never felt it’s been necessary to define ourselves as anything, even though now I think we’re comfortable calling ourselves a rock band. We’ve kind of grown into that role, but at the same time it still leaves things pretty open-ended.