Published Jan 01, 2006Broken Social Scene have set their sights on revolutionising pop music, and last year's You Forgot It In People is their rather convincing calling card. The Toronto collective has earned wide-eyed praise by coaxing a cohesive sound out of a smorgasbord of indie rock, post-rock, orchestral pop, Latin jazz, new wave and techno. With such eclectic revelry and about 15 pairs of hands in the mix, the timeless beauty of this sophomore album is a testament to the skill, ambition and discipline of the indie super-group, or, as they prefer to call it, the family.
Broken Social Scene began as every family does, with a couple. Kevin Drew of KC Accidental and Brendan Canning of Do Make Say Think and Cookie Duster (formerly of hHead and By Divine Right), took to the basement in 2000 and emerged, months later, with an understated soundscape splash called Feel Good Lost. When the pair put their act on stage, they began to draw from a pool of musician friends, members or alums of bands like Metric, Stars, the Bourbon Tabernacle Choir, Treble Charger and Raising the Fawn. Super-group dynamics being intrinsically unstable, Broken's live line-up has ranged from a female-fronted pop quartet to a cacophonous, 12-piece orchestra. The Broken sound evolved with each contraction and expansion, and, under the guidance of producer Dave Newfield, the group captured their baby steps on You Forgot It In People. Since then, members have come and gone, and all the musical chairs and revolving doors have been housed in a label and production company called Arts & Crafts.
"It's like the launch pad for the satellite of love, you know, a home base that all the extended family members can release their records from," says Andrew Whiteman.
Painters, photographers and filmmaker friends also frequent Arts & Crafts, where day-to-day operations are handled by Broken buddy and backroom scenester Jeff Remedios (who used to employ Kevin Drew as a babysitter).
Between May and September of this year, the label will issue its first batch of discs, albums by Jason Collett (solo "cowboy poet" and latest Broken addition), the Apostle of Hustle (Whiteman's own "dark n' sexy, minor key mood music"), and Broken Social Scene themselves, who call their You Forgot It follow-up "the cuddle after the cum shot."
For now, the band's nucleus Canning, Whiteman, Drew, Collett and Justin Perkoff is packing and prepping for their first major road trip, a festival stop at SXSW in Texas followed by a cross-Canada tour.
"We're morphing along. We just bought this old, spooky organ that Sun Ra used to use, so let's see how atmospheric it gets," says Whiteman. "We're really gonna come together as a five-piece, but we don't wanna look like a rock band at all."
"The dream is to take the big cabaret show on the road," says Brendan Canning. "So far, Toronto is the only city to witness what we do with the full band, which is pretty special," he says, adding that their upcoming CMW gig with the Dears will be the first comprehensive family reunion in almost two years. However, with Stars headlining the tour, the Broken five won't face Canada alone. Whiteman forecasts a "pretty wide open and experimental" spectacle.
"We're so tightly knit that we'll just pool each others' resources, and be parts of each others' bands," adds Canning. "We can function without them, but it's nicer to have the horns, the female vocals and the extra bodies. It just brings the show closer to what Broken Social Scene really is."