Universal Music Anyone who's ever had to endure the graveyard shift knows…
- Posted on May 13th 2011 2:00PM by Karen Bliss
Universal Music Canada
But the songs all took shape first in Roberts' basement, a menagerie of children's toys and recording gear overseen by Winnie the Pooh.
After touring behind your last album, 'Love at the End of the World,' did you plow headlong into writing or were you too burnt out to think?
I was really looking forward to writing after the next record. I don't know why. Sometimes I am burnt out, I have to admit, and it takes me months and months before I even want to consider sitting down to work on a song. But after 'Love at the End of the World,' I was really amped up to get in there and start writing. What I was going to be writing, I had no idea.
Many of the songs on 'Collider' just groove. The whole album is quite rhythmic and not as riffy as we've heard from the band before.
Rhythm was quite apparent right at the beginning. When I took what started off as a acoustic, flaky guitar riff and then ended putting a dubby bass line, I knew that rhythm was going to become central to this because I liked the freedom of steering it away from the comfortable path. The excitement of laying things on top of each other that are unexpected is what was getting me off when I was writing the music.
So you're writing and demoing in your basement.
Rockinghorse Studios it's called. It's mainly comprised of children's toys [laughs]. And I have to move them. I create a small rectangular space for myself, hemmed in by rockinghorses -- hence the name of the studio -- and anything else like Winnie the Poo's house, [my wife] Jen's collection of Barbies from the 1980s.
Do you find yourself turning to Winnie and asking, "What do you think of this riff?"
For inspiration. Yes, I do. I also blow a lot of takes tripping over various toy items that have been left underfoot. Rockinghorse is a wild vibe down there. Anything can happen at Rockinghorse studio because there's just no rules.
Do your kids knock on the door: "Daddy, is my doll down there?"
Oh, yeah, are you kidding me? I'm in the middle of something just great and then "I have to go to the bathroom" or "Daddy, what are you doing? What is that thing? Can I try it?" Which is great. You don't want to stifle their creativity.
Even though they're stifling yours?
Yes, exactly. They're allowed to do that. They're children. Don't you know that? The world belongs to children. You can't question it; you just go with it.
Your creativity doesn't seem stifled one bit actually. Your lyrics show quite an imagination, as usual. Do you start with a character?
Sometimes. A lot of the songs are character-driven. They always have been. That's always been one of my main, I don't want to say tools -- it's not a very romantic word -- but ways of coming at a song or idea though a character. I find it easier to humanize the song that way. If you put somebody in the middle of it, who has to live it in some way, then you can talk about ideas, all sorts of ideas. It can be love; it can be war; it could be running from something; running towards something, but if you put a character in the middle, it makes it less vague philosophizing and more something that you can identify with, which is obviously something I want people to do when they're listening to the songs -- see themselves in that.
Is there a way that you always imagine these worlds, a way you always start a lyric?
No, to try to describe it in terms of a method, I'd be lying because sometimes it just comes out of thin air, and that's what I'm looking for.
Some of it is kind of wacky, Sam, like 'I Feel You (The Adventures of Candide Falcone)' and you have a song called 'Tractor Beam Blues.'
Again, any inhibition that I may have had before making this record, based on subconscious and self-conscious fear of not being able to go as far as you want to go, seems to disappear. And that's the beauty of making more and more records is that, hopefully, if you're going to do it the right way, you throw the blueprint from the last record out the window before you sit down to write this one.
Obviously, it's my still my voice and certain things about the way I play instruments are common between all the records. But at the same time, I want to be able to disconnect this from 'Love at the End of the World' and not necessarily be able to have a continuation. And luckily life provides you with that opportunity if you happen to be in a band that has to tour a lot. I don't get a chance to write very much so when it come down to writing, I don't remember how I wrote the last record. I don't remember how I was thinking. I don't remember how I came at anything, from how to write a chorus to how the lyrics were going to work. It's always a bit of a new approach.
And where does 'Candide Falcone' come from?
'Candide Falcone' is like an alter ego a little bit. We have all have these names that we gave each other a long time ago, the band; we all have these characters, not that we become necessarily, but in some way the name would capture the essence of the person. Dave is Chauncey Phelps; James is Roland Thunder; Eric is Ran Aziz; Josh is Clarence Beaujolais; and I'm Candide Falcone.
Too much time on the road.
[Laughs]. I think that's basically what that comes down to. We don't necessarily have to look further than that, do we? Too much time on the road. Too much time with the guys.