A SxSw Interview With Said The Whale (Done Well After SxSw Officially Ended)

When we went down to SxSw last month, we were unsure of what to expect. I had booked a bunch of interviews and some other things prior to leaving Chicago. I realize now that making a plan before heading to SxSw is kind of futile. There’s so much to see and hear down in Austin over those four days, it’s almost stupid to think you’ll actually do anything you set up for yourself.

That said, we did pretty well. We ended up only missing three interviews all together. One of them was with the Canadian band Said The Whale. Their record, Islands Disappear, is a pretty nice release. I’ve listened to it a bunch of times and I still find new things with each listen. I hope you go out and buy it, if for no other reason than to confirm the facts behind the question I ask about brit-pop influences.

Without further adieu, here is my interview, done over email, with Said The Whale:

MD: You guys had to cycle through a couple keyboardists and bass players before you came to the lineup you have now. What is it about this current group that works better than other versions of the group?

STW: When people join bands I think they often don’t realize how difficult being on the road can be, but the lineup we have now are all happy to be there, great travelers, and the chemistry on-stage is better than it’s ever been.  I think this line-up is going to stick.

MD: When I first heard the record, I thought Chris Martin had started a side project due to a similar vocal tone, and I hear a lot of Brit-pop influences in your music. Is that an influence that everyone in the band has in common?

STW: That’s the first time I have ever heard that!  I don’t think brit-pop has really been a huge influence on us unless The Beatles count?

MD: Said the Whale uses a lot of huge harmonies throughout the album. When writing the songs, was that something already predetermined, or did it just happen in the studio?

STW: Ben and I have always been really into layering harmonies.  Whether or not we write a song specifically to accommodate harmonies or not, it’s something we can’t resist in the studio, and its fun to do them live as well.

MD: When you guys started Said The Whale, what was your ultimate goal?

STW: Our goal was to have as many people as possible hear our music, and have as much fun as possible doing it.

MD: Touring and publicity for your record can be a bit of a drag, I’m sure. What do you guys do to blow off steam? Are you a pretty close-knit group or does everyone like to kind of go off on their own?

STW: We stick together pretty tight.  Partly due to necessity (we usually just book one hotel room and cram all 7 of us (band plus 2 crew) in to save money), but we’re all great friends and we get along great.  I wouldn’t say that touring or publicity is a drag at all, its what we love to do!

MD: You just got back from SxSw. How did you like your first trip to Austin?

STW: LOVED it.  It was like the olympics in Vancouver except instead of celebrating sports, everyone was celebrating music and alcohol.  Dream come true.

MD: You had a camera crew following you throughout your adventure here in the States. What was that experience like? How long before you forgot the cameras were rolling?

STW: Its hard to ignore the cameras, but it was cool.  We can be kinda hammy sometimes as well.  The best part is that the guys behind the cameras were awesome so it was more like having a few friends along for the ride.

MD: You did a pretty cool thing last year where you were busking at schools to raise money for a music program. How did your involvement come about?

STW: We were challenged by a local radio station to get involved with a local charity.  We picked MusiCounts, which raises money for high school music programs.  We all feel like music in schools was important to our development and government cuts are a bummer.

MD: Islands Disappear came out back in October ’09 and I know you’ve been playing some new stuff at your gigs. When do you plan on recording your next full length?

STW: We’ve set recording for July ’11.  Can’t wait!

And just like that, we’re done with SxSw coverage. It was truly an amazing experience that I would recommend to everyone. Thanks so much to Said The Whale for taking time out of their hectic schedule to answer these questions.

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