Published Sep 23, 2009Music-savvy moms and dads are in for a rare treat with Duplex!'s sophomore release, Worser, a collection of non-patronizing tunes for tots that won't set parents' teeth on edge.
Set to be released on October 13, this follow-up to their quirky 2005 debut Ablum tackles a diverse range of topics, ranging from sandwiches to evolution to same-sex divorce.
The band were originally born the same year as their debut, when Vancouver musician Veda Hille was asked to record a song for the children's book, Sunny. Hille recruited musician friends living in her east Vancouver duplex and enjoyed the experience so much she kept the group together to record an entire album.
But despite the warm welcome Duplex! inevitably received from the throngs of two-year olds at their Vancouver shows, the band hit a snag that threatened to bring about their demise. Shortly after the release of that first album, the two teenaged members of the band - Saoirse Soley and Sierra Terhoch - lost interest in making kids' music.
But the band weren't ready to call it quits, despite the loss of two vital members. "We wanted to make another record because we had all these great songs, and we have a lot of fun playing together," Hille says in an interview with Exclaim! So out of necessity, they found a way around their dilemma.
"We kind of cheated," Hille explains. "Saoirse and Sierra's contributions [on the new record] were all recorded in 2005, before they had quit the band. We liked their demo songs, and so we just worked on those recordings to make them good enough for Worser."
Despite their loss of talent, the band also had a few gains for their second release. While the inclusion of Hille's infant son, Anders, in the album credits is mostly symbolic - "He did absolutely nothing," says Hille. "He's a very lazy baby" - Vancouver punk/folk accordionist Geoff Berner brought a lot to the new album, not the least of which was his daughter Margot.
"Margot has always been a huge fan of the band," says Hille. "Geoff said they had a song; we said come on down. History was made."
In fact, it's the involvement of the juvenile members of the band's line-up - also including Abe and Gracie Mae Caruso - that Hille finds the most rewarding aspect of working with Duplex! "The times when the kids do come up with things are so exciting," she says.
Ultimately, Hille feels that writing music for children doesn't need to be a drastically different process than writing music for grown-ups.
"I actually don't think there should be a line between adult and children's music," she says. "I happen to think Duplex! are a great listen for those over 15 as well. Well, maybe over 20."
It's because of this inclusive musical philosophy that the adult members of the band, including Justin Kellam of No Kids, Annie Wilkinson of Onward Voyageur, Matt Caruso of Chariots of Eggs, and Shaun Brodie of A.C. Newman and the Hidden Cameras, don't need to sacrifice their musical tastes to a more standard, saccharine style of children's entertainment.
"Musically, we didn't need to change what we liked at all," says Hille. "We just write good pop songs that happen to reference making sandwiches."
Ah, sandwich appreciation - finally, a theme to truly bridge the generational divide.
Worser is due out digitally through Mint Records on October 13, and physically at shows and through Veda Hille's website.
2. "That's How We Make A Sandwich"
3. "Daddy and I"
5. "We can do anything we want"
6. "7 Noble Gases"
7. "Vikings and Beekeepers"
8. "Orange Popsicle"
9. "Stupid things that I have done"
10. "Sounds Like Work"
11. "Dog with a sweater on"
14. "When Animals Attack"
12/10 Vancouver, BC - The Cultch (Vancouver East Cultural Centre)
12/12 Vancouver, BC - The Cultch (Vancouver East Cultural Centre)
12/13 Vancouver, BC - The Cultch (Vancouver East Cultural Centre)
1/17 Saltspring Island, BC - Artspring (2:30 p.m.)