Wolf Parade are back in Vicar St. after their stunning sell out performance there in 2008. Tickets for this unmissable show are €19 on sale next Wednesday at 9am through Ticketmaster and other usual outlets nationwide. Booking Line: 0818 719 390.
I first met the members of Wolf Parade in Manhattan at a diminutive venue called Pianos where I’d booked the band as part of a show to benefit a literary magazine. This was several months before the release of Apologies to the Queen Mary, Wolf Parade’s Sub Pop debut. They drove eight hours straight from their hometown of Montreal to play the show. On the way they were detained once at the border and then again somewhere on I-84 South by a New York State Trooper bearing a speeding violation. They barely made the soundcheck. Only three of the four members actually appeared’”-keyboardist Hadji Baraka, they told me, was pruning conifers somewhere in British Columbia, living in a burlap tent and eating raw honey. Singer/Guitarist Dan Boeckner was suffering from some kind of virus’”-he was sweating lightly and his skin had a translucent sheen. Singer/Keyboardist Spencer Krug was distracted by a dead nine-volt battery in one of his myriad of effects pedals. Only Drummer Arlen Thompson seemed ready to touch down on the rock tarmac and broadcast the calamity. As the band climbed onto the coaster-sized stage to run through ‘It’s a Curse’ for their soundcheck, Boeckner turned to me and said, ‘We don’t play folk music.’ It was part apology, part defensive reproach.
So Wolf Parade does not, it turns out, play folk music. But what music do they play? What problem are they attempting to solve when they light into a song? What error in the world are they seeking to correct by applying their music to its airspace?
At Mount Zoomer, their second album for Sub Pop doesn’t yield an answer so much as lay the old questions at our feet, wrapped in new questions. The band, in fact, issued a two-word warning to the label at one point during the album’s creation: ‘No Singles.’ Much like Boeckner’s declaration at the Pianos show.
Instead, the band committed itself to a period of experimentation, recording long improvisational sessions in the Montreal church owned by The Arcade Fire. These tracks were then cut and pasted into discrete compositions. The result is a complex matrix of components and modules that, thanks to the collective efforts of each band member, taken each of them far from their hometown for extended periods, compressing their time as a functioning unit. ‘It’s hard enough to get us all in the same room at the same time,’ Krug said of the band’s approach, ‘so when we do get to write songs there isn’t really time for our egos to get in the way.’
The legion of bearded, sweater-vested critics will want to file this band under -Prog Rock’ because it doesn’t offer up sugary cast-offs for the short-attention-span set,. Better, though, to think of it as the sound of a band edging forward into a wispy darkness, one hand reaching out, the other firmly clutching the past. – Matthew Derby
Wolf Parade Live @ Vicar St. on May 20th. Tickets are €19 on sale next Wednesday Jan 27th @ 9am through Ticketmaster and other usual outlets nationwide. Booking Line: 0818 719 390