Three years ago, Plants and Animals decided it was time to take a break—not from each other or music, per se, but the cyclical treadmill of being a touring band.
The Montréal-based indie-rock trio—Warren Spicer (guitar/vocals), Nic Basque (vocals/bass/guitar/keys) and Matthew Woodley (drums/vocals)—emerged onto the international music scene in 2008, following the release its debut full-length record, Parc Avenue. Plants and Animals’ last album was The End of That in 2012, and, as Spicer explains, the conclusion of that touring cycle marked a point where it was time to unplug and focus on other things in life—all three band members became fathers over the past three years, for starters. But with Plants and Animals’ new album, Waltzed in from the Rumbling, having just been released, it’s time for the guys to get back at it.
“I’m about to leave to go to Europe for a week,” Spicer says over the phone from the Montréal airport as he waits to board a plan to Germany. “And then tour for another month. It’s been different because this is the most I’ve been away, the most any of us have been away since the last big tours we did. This is all kind of uncharted territory now with kids.”
Spicer admits he felt some trepidation when it came time to leave for this tour—a first for him—but he adds that being a father also puts into perspective why he’s pursuing this career path. Plus, having a new batch of songs to play for crowds adds to the excitement of the whole prospect.
“We didn’t right away … plan out how we were going to make our next record,” he says. “Once we were home, we just started talking and said, let’s go to the studio and record a couple of ideas—no major designs on tracking particular songs or tunes for the next record or anything like that. We just went to the studio to record for fun, basically, just to enjoy ourselves. And then that never stopped, and we did that for two years.”
The more casual approach to making a record was aided by the fact that the band took total control over the recording process, allowing ample time to flesh out ideas. Spicer explains that The End of That was recorded in France with a set deadline, which didn’t give the band the freedom to create the album it necessarily wanted to.
“We sort of painted ourselves into a corner by making projections of how it was going to happen,” he says. “It was a frustrating experience, and this time we definitely wanted to just not be cornered by our own decisions.”
This openness and explorative approach meant bringing in friends to lend their talents to different instruments and experimenting with unconventional sounds—such as making a refrigerator sound like a timpani drum—creating an environment more akin to an art studio as the band explored influences spanning Van Morrison, the French funk of Serge Gainsbourg and John Coltrane.
“In hindsight, I think [on] this record we were just really pursuing songs that we had an emotional connection to,” Spicer says. “We were not trying to build songs to play in a stadium or songs to play on the main stage, for instance. Now that we’re out here doing it, I realize this album is very dynamic. There’s quiet, small parts of it, there’s really big moments of it, but it’s a dynamic story and it requires that the audience wants to be there with you doing it. It’s not like you can bang them over the head with this album … it’s much more of a journey than it is a full-on rock show.”
Mon, Jun 13 (8 pm)
With Royal Canoe
Starlite Room, $19