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Said The Whale talks taking control and going back to their roots

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Vancouver indie rock group, Said The Whale, released their fourth studio album this past September called hawaiii. Guitar and vocalist Tyler Bancroft talked to The Scene Magazine’s Brianna Harris about the no limits writing process and getting back to his roots.


I had the opportunity to talk with Said The Whale’s Tyler Bancroft about the new album, hawaiii.

Your new album, hawaiii has received a lot of great attention and it’s been said to be a lot more experimental than your past albums. What do you think makes it significantly different?

It is kind of a throw back to our roots in a way, which was just me and Ben messing around on our computers at home. And there are a lot of elements of that on this record for sure. It’s definitely our most diverse record. It’s like everything from our loudest rock song to our quietest mellow song and I think it shows what we’re capable of as a band. [When] writing the record, we had no rules, really. Everything just came out naturally.

So there were basically no boundaries for you?

Yeah, we just kind of went for it.

That’s awesome. You’ve also been quoted as saying that you’re much more lyrically honest with hawaiii. You’re touching upon topics that you haven’t before. Why did you decide to do that with this album?

It wasn’t a conscious decision, it just kind of fell out. I don’t really sit down and have a plan for what I’m going to write, it just kind of happens. And it just so happens that it came out that way.

And you were happy with that? Like, it didn’t take you by surprise or make you feel uncomfortable at all?

No, I wasn’t uncomfortable with it. I think it’s a good outlet, personally.

Why did you choose the name hawaiii? Especially since you guys are from Vancouver and you even spiced it up a bit by adding the lower-case “h” and the extra “i”.

Yeah totally, the word itself is just evocative. I think when you see the word or hear the word, you think of something immediately and we thought that the songs were evocative so we wanted to have a title that reflected that. Everyone’s got some sort of association with the word “Hawaii”, whether they think it’s paradise to end all paradises, or whether they think it’s a horrible tourist trap or whatever. I think most people know the word; it’s a familiar word already.

What are you wanting people to take away from this album?

Whatever it is they want to take away from it. I don’t think it’s up to us to dictate what people get from an album or from any song, in particular. The songs that we write we are writing for ourselves, and they have their own meaning to them on a personal level. But I think at the same time, a lot of them have universal topics being covered and so I would hope that they’re being related to, however one wants to relate to them.

Your first single from the album, I Love You, has been your first track to hit the top of Canadian alternative rock charts. What was your reaction to that?

It’s awesome, it’s amazing. We obviously appreciate the support that commercial radio has given us and I think it gets a lot of people out to shows. It’s just funny how much of an impact commercial radio can still have — it’s so irrelevant yet it does bare such a huge influence on the shows you play and on that commercial side of things.

For hawaiii you also stepped into the role of co-producer, right?

Yeah, but that was really just by accident. We didn’t set out for that to be the case. I was kind of just riding shotgun the whole time. And I’m a control freak. So it just kind of came about naturally.

What was that like for you?

It was just same old me, bossing people around. It really didn’t change anything because it wasn’t even really discussed until afterwards.

What has been the most significant change for you as a musician since the beginning of Said The Whale?

I think we’re just better at everything. We’re better at touring, we’re better at song writing, we’re better at recording, and we’re better at playing. I think just an all-around improvement, which is nice and makes me happy. If it wasn’t the case, I think that I’d feel pretty shitty.

What makes the five of you work so well together as a band?

We all get along great and we’re all friends. So that’s pretty important. You can’t really be productive if anyone’s hating each other. That just doesn’t really happen.

What are you most excited about for your current tour?

Well, I was really excited for St. John’s, Newfoundland and that’s already happened. But I think we have something special in every city and we’re also really excited to play all these new songs. Given that it’s such a short record, we’re actually able to play almost all of the record almost every night. We mix in half the set with old material so it’s nice that we can do it all.

Are you going back to Vancouver at all?

Yeah, we play a show in Vancouver at the end of December.

That’s awesome, are you excited for that? Going back to your roots, especially since you said that’s kind of what the album is about?

Yeah totally. Playing in Vancouver is always pretty surreal but at the same time it’s the most pressure of any show because you’ve got all your family and friends there, so it can be a little intimidating at times.

Said the Whale is playing at Ritual in Ottawa on November 13, 2013.

Brianna Harris


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