Brendan Canning Explains His "Technically Inept" Approach to 'You Gots 2 Chill'
Published Oct 18, 2013After slogging it out in the Can-Rock trenches as a member of By Divine Right, Cookie Duster and, most notably, Broken Social Scene, this month finally saw the release of an official Brendan Canning solo album. You Gots 2 Chill is a mostly acoustic affair whose title aptly captures it mellow vibe, while nodding to EPMD's classic jam of the same name.
"When I get off a Broken Social Scene tour or whatever, I don't come home and play electric guitar," Canning tells Exclaim! in an interview. "I play either acoustic guitar or piano. If I'm playing, I'm writing. So that's how it came about."
Recorded with Do Make Say Think's Ohad Benchetrit and friend Steve Singh, Canning says there was a simple reason for releasing the album under his own name: "They're my tunes and there wasn't a band."
Rather than demoing songs via GarageBand or some other digital recording program, Canning pieced together the record from riffs he had recorded on his home voicemail. "I saved a lot of the tracks that made the record on my answering machine," he explains while dialing up his voicemail. "I'd call my home line and record them."
Unused riffs, which he plays via the handset's distorted speakers, are saved for later reference. "I've got probably 60 or 70 nuggets on voice memo."
He considers himself "technically inept" but finds voicemail or the voice memo app on his phone a handy way of documenting ideas while jamming. "You're out playing guitar somewhere, and you think, 'This sounds good.' Voice memo! I can't be the only one."
Once basic tracks were laid down, Canning would "start colouring in the lines" to flesh out the tracks. "Experiment, subtract, etc."
Despite releasing an acoustic album, Canning says he's no fan of the singer-songwriter as a live performer.
"I never go out to see acoustic solo performers. Like never. If you're really strong at it and if you've got the best songs in the world, maybe you might capture my attention."
Fittingly, Canning's current tour finds him hitting the road with a five-piece band who use the record as more of a reference point than Bible. "It's not like these are the definitive versions, they're just versions," he says. "It's just music after all. As long as you can play half-way decent, you can't fuck it up that bad."
See Canning's tour schedule here.
You Gots 2 Chill is out now via Draper Street Records/SQE.