COLLABORATION IS KEY ON THEIR LATEST ALBUM, LITTLE MOUNTAIN
Story by Laura Cappe
Photo by Johnathan Taggart
Vancouver-based indie rock band, Said The Whale (composed of Ben Worcester, Tyler Bancroft, Nathan Shaw, Spencer Schoening and Jaycelyn Brown) are practiced storytellers. Deeply influenced by art, nature and their surroundings, they offer listeners a glimpse inside their heads and hearts through their music. Their latest album, Little Mountain, is an honest record, penned with songs about love, nostalgia, and life.
With a North American tour underway (including a stop in Toronto on April 13th) and the national release of their documentary, Winning America, Said The Whale are at an exciting point in their career. Plaid had the pleasure of speaking with the band’s co-founder, Tyler Bancroft, about making music and storytelling.
Unlike their previous records, Little Mountain is a testimony to collaboration. As purveyors of sound, writers, and multi-instrumentalists, each member added their own personal style to a song, giving it a full and more intricate tone. “A lot of the songs were written more collaboratively than we had ever done before,” says Bancroft. “With the songs on the previous records, Ben and I would come in with many more finished songs. This time we brought more skeleton songs to the band that had to be fleshed out, which gave everyone else in the band an opportunity to have more of an influence on the final product. We had more time to record Little Mountain than we had ever had before as well so it gave us more of an opportunity to experiment and play with sounds that we had wanted to do in the past. One of the main things being layering harmonies, which we used to always do on our demos, but never really had the chance to do in the studio. So that was fun.”
The band, having grown up in a neighbourhood called “Little Mountain”, sees the name of their album as a translatable reference that could be identified with almost any town in North America. “A lot of people pigeonhole our band – saying that we just write about Vancouver – we just write about Canada. And yes that is true – we are heavily influenced by our surroundings and we love where we live, but we’re also trying to point out that there is a storytelling element within our songs that can be applied to anybody regardless of their specific geographic location,” Bancroft notes.
With no unique political stripe or cause which unites them all, Said The Whale base their writing around the people and the moments that have pierced their souls. “Most of our writing comes from experience, although some of those experiences manifest themselves in fictional ways. For the most part, Ben and I are writing what we know. I think that is what keeps our music honest – what makes it relatable,” says Bancroft. “Music fans are smart – they can smell bullshit from a mile away. So I don’t think that we could get away with writing something that doesn’t mean something to us.”
Bancroft and the rest of the band believe in the power of lyrics and the poetry of music. “The scary part about song writing is that Ben and I write very personal music and it is exactly like opening up your diary every time you play a show. And sure we’ve come in contact with the people that these songs are about all the time, but what’s also cool about music is that it can be interpreted in many ways…. There is also quite a lot of nostalgia in our songs. I guess that’s fairly normal, though, for [people in their] mid-to-late twenties to write about the times when they were younger. A lot of it could come from being away from home a lot of the time – being on the road probably has some effect on that. This tour will actually be the longest we’ve ever been out on the road – we’re all pretty excited about it.”
Said The Whale’s documentary Winning America airs nationally on CBC on March 24th, 12pm EST. Little Mountain is out now.