Yes, I have finally decided to put this blog into a hiatus... for a while at least...
This way please :
of course you can practice your French as well.
Evanescence (photo by Ros O'Gorman)
by Andrew Tijs @ Undercover
September 12 2006
Amy Lee, raven-haired singer for Evanescence, has spoken about their new album, the loss of members and “the Christian thing”.
In an interview with Billboard, Lee discussed the trials and travails of working on their sophomore album ‘The Open Door’. Out in October, it follows up their 2003 multi-platinum debut ‘Fallen’.
Lee admits “It took longer than I thought. But, I am a perfectionist. We took all the time we needed and wrote and wrote and wrote. If it wasn't good, I threw it away. I wanted every piece of it to be as good as it possibly could be.”
She also spoke about the reconfigurations of the band since the first album. Bassist Will Boyd and Lee’s songwriting partner Ben Moody are gone. Lee said, “Without (Moody), it wasn't like I was thinking, "Oh, my God, what am I going to do?" It really had gotten to the point where it was so horrible and dramatic, it was a relief and I knew the band could continue.”
Lee rejected “the Christian thing” in the interview, “I'm so over it. It's the lamest thing. I fought that from the beginning; I never wanted to be associated with it. It was a Ben thing. It's over. It's a new day.”
Millan is indeed some big star here in Toronto. Poised to release her solo album, Honey From the Tombs, she notched up a fine reputation with the Montreal-based band Stars, flaunting a voice that is fine-spun, breathy and distinctive. But it was her role as a vocalist for Broken Social Scene that truly led her into the limelight; with Millan, as with so many Canadian artists today, all roads lead to Broken Social Scene.
Today the offices of the BSS's Toronto-based record label, Arts & Crafts, are crammed with boxes of merchandise, waiting to be shipped across to Olympic Island where tomorrow the group are curating a festival. The show will see 10,000 fans make the short ferry-hop from the mainland to bask in the sunshine and in performances by Raising the Fawn, J Mascis, Feist and Bloc Party, with a grand finale by BSS.
To Jeffrey Remedios of Arts & Crafts, the Olympic Island show is a celebration of four years of hard graft, during which all involved lived with a persistent fear "that we were going to fuck it up". Five years ago Remedios was working for Virgin, craving a little more independence, a tad more creativity. "At the same time what was happening in Toronto was this incredible burgeoning music community," he recalls. "All these bands were starting to really come together, all these clubs were full, everyone would be going out to see local bands, which was a relatively new thing for us. It sort of hit critical mass at a certain time."
Already a good friend and sometime roommate of Canning and Drew, he at first took a mild interest in their project. "But then they made You Forgot It in People, and they got me into the studio and said whaddyathink? And I said I'm in, I'm totally in." That meant leaving Virgin to found a record label, management company and music publisher with Drew, "that would just be like an arts collective, like the whole is bigger than the sum of its parts, that kind of theory".
Arts & Crafts started with one band, Broken Social Scene, and has grown steadily since. "Social Scene really are the band that are at the centre of this community," insists Remedios. "The true ethos of that band is a collection of people collaborating together from other projects. So they're in the core. In the beginning they would play shows at [Toronto venue] Ted's Wrecking Yard, and they'd play all new songs every show, and they'd play once a month. You Forgot It in People was birthed from that. So one week James and Emily from Metric would be there, the next month Feist, the next month Amy and Evan from Stars. And it just hit, it hit really fast."
Back in Cabbagetown, Millan, propped up by latte, is attempting to explain the complex, intertwining histories of the members of BSS. She first met Kevin Drew at summer camp. "And of course Emily I met on the first day at school. She came up and asked where the music class was. We walked in and we were late, and there was what felt like 200 kids all facing us. But it was better because we had each other, and that sort of bonded us as a force. We were very, very good friends for a very, very long time. Emily was already writing absolutely amazing songs and I started singing with her and ..." She has barely begun her story when another fan wanders over. "Amy! Hey Amy!"
While its shape-shifting enormity has been part of BSS's attraction, it has also provided its own complications, particularly for Canning and Drew. "The family is constantly expanding," nods Canning. "But we let ourselves get pulled in a lot of different ways, and you can kinda forget we're the founding members of this group. It just feels like this abstract thing." And the difficulties have not just been musical. "Over the years there's been such emotional tumult. It must be the same with every band, but then when you throw men and women together and start playing music together, it's like being at summer camp."
It's easy to imagine that Canning and Drew might grow a little irked by the constant to-ing and fro-ing of their band members, but Drew insists not. "It would annoy me if their bands were bad. But they're not. Bands like Stars and Metric need to be there, and we've been very grateful for the time they've devoted to us." Besides, he argues, they enjoy a kind of symbiotic relationship. "They will burn out on their own shit and come back to us and say, 'Can I just not think about stuff for a month?' And they take that energy and they use it really well in their own bands."
Two BSS members currently pursuing another project in earnest are Emily Haines and James Shaw, singer and guitarist in the more straightforward, punky Metric. "James and I write with BSS pretty regularly," she explains, "but it's a very different kind of role, especially for me. I really enjoy playing the supporting part. Social Scene is about donating yourself. And the thing is, we don't see each other that often. It's a way to romanticise your friendships, because you don't have to put up with the day-to-day."
Though Metric formed in New York, the band members have since returned home to Toronto, making them more available, presumably, for further collaborations. "It just felt like the right time," says Haines. "[Canada's] a pretty utopian place at the moment, there's a lot happening. I guess what keeps me going is my interest in other people. Everyone I know, that seems to be their desire: to collaborate. They need to connect."
Drew, however, isn't feeling the connections so profoundly these days. "None of us has any time any more in this band," he says over dinner the night before the Olympic Island festival, spearing his pasta. "There's lots of families and personal stuff, other bands going on, so Social Scene has become ... it's lost a bit of its love outside of when we're together, but when we're together it's there." Does the loss of love concern him? "It disappoints me a bit because I feel that if we all gave it 170% then we would be doing a lot better than we are. We were always a music band that loved music. And we've now gone into a format of playing the same songs all the time. It's great because we have rotating members so you always have different magic, and personality-wise it's difficult to always be on the road so it's nice to have different conversations. But we've been touring non-stop for the last four years now, so it's just at a point where we've got to find something new about it."
He is quick to point out that he has thoroughly enjoyed the past few years. "But it's also been some of the most stereotypical narcissistic times in our lives," he says. "I think you hit a point where you're disappointed in yourself maybe, and that point for me was when I kind of took it for granted. And it's also very difficult to make music when you're talking about it all the time, you're always planning your future and where you're going to go and all that, and it does suck the life out of why you wanted to do it."
What would he rather talk about? "I'd rather learn," he replies earnestly. "I'd rather use conversation as an education platform, instead of talking about booze and how fucking hard it is to cope as a group or a family or a band. We were always an experiment in intimacy. That's something Jason Collett said to me once, and I liked that. I liked the idea that people were into us because it never was supposed to work with this many people, and financially we were supposed to be ruined and internally we were supposed to be ruined. There's be a lot of fucked up things that have happened over the last couple of years, but we're still here and there's still love for each other."
It is 12.59pm on Olympic Island, and there is a still patch of calm before the gates open. The sun shines slow and steady, beers sit cooling in big icy barrels. You hear the squeals first, then the thunderous approach of the first stampede of hipsters charging across the grass to secure their territory at the front of the stage. By the time Broken Social Scene take to the stage shortly before 9pm, the crowd is itchy with anticipation. It is an outstanding, unexpectedly moving performance, the already preposterous number of band members on stage bolstered by the friends and family that seem to spill from the wings. The night concludes in a final, stunning triumvirate of Ibi Dreams of Pavement, It's All Gonna Break, and KC Accidental. And, for a glorious while, Broken Social Scene, in all its fragmented, dissonant, weary parts, seem again united.
Five essential records from the Canadian scene
Broken Social Scene - You Forgot It in People
Back in 2002, cramming umpteen musicians on to an album seemed an outlandish concept. Yet You Forgot It in People bloomed with a mesmerising creativity, best illustrated by the breathless, otherworldly Anthems for a 17-Year-Old Girl.
Metric - Live It Out
One of this year's best albums so far, this is the second offering from Metric, and marks out Haines as one of the brightest stars in music right now. Politically charged and with a stoked-up fire in its belly, Live It Out is also disturbingly danceable.
Feist - Let It Die
The solo project of BSS's Leslie Feist. Unabashedly romantic, Let It Die is steeped in cocktail jazz and bossa nova; it's her most sumptuous offering yet.
Stars - Set Yourself on Fire
Stars are made up of Chris Seligman and Pat McGee, along with BSS members Amy Millan, Torquil Campbell and Evan Cranley. Their piece de resistance is this album from 2005: a cathartic confection of strings, horns, colliding female-male vocals and Casio keyboards.
Jason Collett - Idols of Exile
Collett is a part of BSS's wall-of-guitar sound, but here he drifts back to his folkier roots to bring us a delightful album, full of summery, wistful tracks such as Hangover Days.
· Broken Social Scene and Metric play the Carling Weekend at Leeds on Friday and Reading on Sunday