Dan Boeckner Tells the History of Wolf Parade, Album by Album
Wolf Parade, the seminal indie rock band from Montreal, has returned with their fourth album, Cry Cry Cry. Even before their inception in the mid-2000s, the members of the band frequently worked in side projects and found modes of expression within varying sounds (Handsome Furs and Sunset Rubdown, among other bands).
Therefore, Wolf Parade’s existence was never exactly necessary for the musicians, it was a project dependent on cooperation and an innate desire to create together. Among the band’s output is a negotiation between Spencer Krug’s dalliance with the fanciful and allegoric (most closely represented on At Mount Zoomer) and Dan Boeckner’s earnest songwriting (highlighted on Apologies to Queen Mary).
Dan Boeckner talked to TIDAL about the group’s professional progression, as well as their personal evolution.
Apologies to Queen Mary (Sub Pop, 2005)
We had all been in bands before, but I think Wolf Parade was the real first foray any of us had into putting something out. It was exciting, but we were unaware of it. We were in our twenties, so we were emotionally unstable. I think a lot of us were dealing with some sort of adult emotional trauma, and we were channeling that all into making this record. And we went from being this sort of cult band to a band where one of our songs would be played at Super Bowl halftime, you know?
We also came from the same kind of musical appreciation, so when we all got together, it was just like multiple layers of chaos, and it’s kind of a fuckin’ miracle that record ever got made.
I met Isaac [Brock] in Victoria, British Columbia. I was working a shit job — I was a fry cook in a pub. Spencer [Krug] also worked there, just kind of really making ends meet. We were in a band called Atlas Strategic and and we scammed our way into opening for Modest Mouse. I didn’t have a phone, so I gave him the number of the place I worked, and a couple of days later after the show he called me and that was that. We became friends.
Then, that band broke up. When Wolf Parade started, he found out about it somehow on the Internet, who knows, and I hadn’t spoken with him in a while. He called me and was like, ‘Hey, you guys should make a record and I should produce it.’
At Mount Zoomer (Sub Pop, 2008)
I think we felt this internal pressure and I think the decision collectively was just to forget about the pressure and whatever the hell we felt. The recording of Apologies was long and it became complicated and kind of insane. So, we thought the best thing to do would be to record it ourselves, which turned out to be another element of chaos.
There was this church with this barn in the back and we would basically just bang out these songs really quickly and spend a lot of time thinking about how to rearrange them. I remember having a really good time at those sessions, and recording.
Expo 86 (Sub Pop, 2010)
There was definitely an evident darkness. I think we were all in kind of a weird, dark place when we made this record. It was a lot more, like, monolithic sounding. I think the darkness was personal.
I think, like with all these records, that’s why I’d try to write whatever we’re feeling in the moment and not try to edit it too much. All that stuff is ultimately for better or for worse, you know? If we’re feeling dark, it’s gonna be a dark record.
The feelings from this record kind of bled into the hiatus, a bit. You know, I think we had been a band for so long working half of the system, in a lot of ways. Like, we never had a manager, we never had a band manager. We never had somebody directing the career of the band, it was always like, a collective decision making process.
Cry Cry Cry (Sub Pop, 2017)
When you have sort of a collective mindset toward a career, when you work with other people closely, it becomes really advanced and at that point we were just like, ‘Alright, if we keep doing this, we’re gonna stop being friends and stop having fun.’ So, we decided to quit and that’s what we did.
Getting together and recording again influenced the emotive elements of the album. When we started writing that record we played this run of shows at Bowery [Ballroom in New York], and we started writing the record back in D.C. Everybody just put their entire lives in the making of that record, and it was very joyful. Even if the subject matter is dark, that act of writing the songs together and crafting art, it felt great. It really felt like the perfect timing, you know?
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