Most bands have a coherent conception of themselves within the first couple years of playing together. At nearly 10 years old, Vancouver-bred indie rockers Said the Whale are still trying to figure that out.
Despite having secured a solid presence in the Canadian indie scene through four fun, poppy and very Canadian records, a forthcoming album seems to re-imagine what type of band they are and where they stand in the greater Canadian music echelon.
Earlier in January 2017 on Facebook, Said the Whale announced their fifth album, As Long As Your Eyes Are Wide — slated to be released on Mar. 31— by dropping a synth-heavy single entitled “Step Into The Darkness,” and most notably, by revealing a lineup change.
Slimming down from a quintet to a trio for the new album, Said the Whale is saying farewell to founding member and drummer Spencer Schoening and long-time bassist Nathan Shaw.
Tyler Bancroft — the guitarist, vocalist and one half of Said the Whale’s song writing core — shed some light on this switch up.
“The new lineup arose through tumultuous past two years,” Bancroft said.
Bancroft explained that during this time, Shoening and Shaw began to distance themselves from Said the Whale to focus on their own respective projects. He asserts that everyone was amicable about the separation, despite the change of focus. However, Bancroft does admit that in losing Shoening and Shaw, he didn’t know if Said The Whale would continue to make music.
Instead of folding, however, the now-trio decided to reimagine what kind of band Said The Whale could be. The result is their new album, As Long As Your Eyes Are Wide.
“There is a spacey and synth-y kind of vibe to the album; it’s all new to us,” Bancroft said.
While time will tell whether or not this sonic transformation was a fruitful one, Bancroft explains that it was completely necessary.
“With the new lineup we found that we had to flex new muscles to create a record that still sounded like a full body sound. I only play guitar and we have keys, so we tried out some new things and that’s how the album happened,” Bancroft said.
That’s essentially the sentiment behind the album’s ambiguous title: as long as you keep your eyes wide and your ears open, you can take what’s hurtled at you and see it as an opportunity.
Despite now being a three-piece, the band unfortunately passes on the opportunity to determine who in the group is Pepe — in his glory days, Dat Boi and Kermit.
“I think it’s a good thing I don’t know what those are,” Bancroft said. “I need to spend more time on the Internet.”
In a way, As Long As Your Eyes Are Wide is a departure from what Said The Whale has been for the last decade, but this isn’t to say that the band is completely disregarding the last 10 years — in fact, it’s the opposite.
Bancroft wholeheartedly attributes Said The Whale’s longevity to the ceaseless support from fans.
“If it wasn’t for their support and them telling us how much our music meant to them, I don’t think we would have made it to 10,” Bancroft said.
Despite the evident support, lasting a decade was still a trial for the band.
“[The last 10 years] felt like we were flying by the seat of our pants. It was pretty fuckin’ hectic,” Bancroft said.
Fans can rest assured that as long as they keep on going to their shows, Said The Whale’s future looks pretty good.
If you want to catch a sneak peek of Said The Whale’s new album, you can hear them at Louis’ Pub on Saturday, Jan. 21.
“Said The Whale loves coming to Saskatoon. Especially in the winter. When the lights are on and there is snow everywhere, it’s like a scene from a movie. It’s great,” Bancroft said.
Take that, Regina. What’s more, they even knew that Louis’ Pub is named after the West’s beloved freedom fighter. Pretty good for some Vancouverites, eh?
Photo: Toby Cheng / Supplied