Here is more from my interview with Steve Bays...
Not only is the "Future Breeds" album more experimental sonically, but it also harks back to your Sub Pop debut "Make up the Breakdown" in many ways.
A lot of people have been saying that, which I’m totally cool with. There’s definitely a freedom and rebellion [type] feel to that album. Then we got to combine it with a more bizarre production style, which I really like...We like being involved with everything from interacting with fans online to making tour diary videos that we upload every week. We just did the fourth one last night on our YouTube channel. It’s super fun. Once you get the ball rolling, you just want to keep going.
Some of the new songs utilize either cello or sax. What prompted you to recruit random people off the street for those?
That’s the thing: when we talk about the album now in retrospect, it’s like, ‘I don’t know why we did that.’ So much of the album was just us getting excited. We were working on it for a long time. Along the way, weird things would happen. On “Bizinezz as Usual”...I hadn’t even finished writing the lyrics. It was almost improvised. It had a really cool feel to it. For the sax on “Zero Results,” there was a guy playing outside. We brought him in and he just soloed away for awhile. The next day, I just chopped it all up and treated it more like a collage of sound than a performance.
Was the rickety old piano your fiancé gave you as a gift used on any of the album’s songs?
Yeah, it’s on “Times a Thousand,” “What is Rational,” “Bizinezz as Usual.” A lot of those songs, we’d try recording a bunch of different instruments and at the last second, we would mute a lot of them or bring them out for a certain section. We always like the idea of sounds coming in for only one short point in the song, then never coming back.
At one point you, put thumbtacks in that piano. Why?
In the saloons back in the day, to get the piano to be loud enough over the top of the sound of people yelling and screaming, people would put thumbtacks in there. I’ve always loved that kind of saloon sound.
Regarding the album title and song, what are the “Future Breeds”?
It’s a way of referring to future generations. Thinking about whether or not we’re breeding a better or worse generation. I don’t know.
You took a different songwriting approach this time out – doing the lyrics first and using observational viewpoints. Did it make the whole process quicker?
I didn’t have to be in a place where I was thinking about myself. Also, I think I’m more confident as an observer. It’s a lot easier to talk about other people than it is yourself. I don’t think I’m as interesting as other people are. Also, with us making these tour documentaries, you film a 10 minute conversation and can edit it down to an incredible 20 seconds where you actually point out something funny, profound or shocking that you wouldn’t have [otherwise] noticed in that 10 minutes. I just really enjoy listening to people and watching people and pulling out the interesting things that maybe they don’t even know are there.
“Goddess” is really your first romantic tune ever?
I’ve written love songs, but they’ve always been bitter. In retrospect, I’ve been referring to something from the past, whereas this is an actual positive love song about feelings I still maintain to this day. I never really felt I could justify writing a positive, uplifting love song. It couldn’t really happen until it felt like a sincere thing that didn’t feel like I was trying to write it. In the past, I’ve been in relationships, where they’ve said [adopts feminine voice], ‘why don’t you ever write love songs about me?’ And I would always say, ‘I don’t know why.’ I don’t know why it didn’t come naturally and to be honest, I couldn’t help but question maybe this isn’t the right relationship if I don’t feel compelled to sing about you.
I have to say: The big pull out lyric sheet with the CD is a cool touch.
I think the lyrics are a fun part in it. Lyrically, it’s my favorite record we’ve done because I was having a lot more fun than I have in the past.
There’s an Anthony Bourdain quote in the liner notes. Who in the band is a foodie?
That’s Paul, our drummer. He’s obsessed with food and cooking. Right as we were about to email the lyrics to [art designer] Keith – that’s his handwriting – Paul thought it would be funny if we included the quote from Kitchen Confidential to see if anybody noticed. Keith called us and said, ‘I have that book on my desk right here in Toronto.’ We thought that was a sign it should be in there.
You make a point to mention the album was proudly made independently in Vancouver. Do you often give props to your current city of residence?
Definitely. Since "Make up the Breakdown," I’ve always been vocal about how it’s important to love and respect where you’re from and the neighborhood you live in. A lot of people want to feel anonymous, but I think it’s important to have a good community. These days, most albums are still made in the major cities, so if you get to make it in a smaller one, I think it’s cool.
Was the band involved in any Winter Olympics festivities earlier this year?
We played to a few thousand people for the Olympics and it was an incredible free show. It was totally packed and one of the most fun shows we’ve played in a long time. The city was crazy. I live right downtown and it was shoulder to shoulder. You could hardly get anywhere. They had to close down the liquor stores because people were so rambunctious.