Nothing but blue skies for Spiral Beach

The quirky Toronto quartet have a new record out along with a refreshingly new approach to selling their music

supplied Spiral Beach throw their inhibitions to the wind with their latest Bollywood-inspired album, The Only Really Thing.
supplied Spiral Beach throw their inhibitions to the wind with their latest Bollywood-inspired album, The Only Really Thing.

Spiral Beach doesn’t want to sell you their latest record. They’re smarter than that.

In fact, don’t expect drummer Daniel Woodhead to try to push anything on to you—except the pretty wrapping. “Music is basically free these days,” Woodhead said. “I actually think we’re releasing a comic book with an album. We’re releasing all these cool material things—people are paying for the package. We try to look at it as though our music is just a bonus to all of the other things you get when you buy our album.”

Their approach is a fresh perspective on music merchandising. It’s a perspective to be expected from Toronto kids who’ve been at it for going on six years, although you wouldn’t think it by looking at their photo. Let’s just say the first time I saw them it was in a bar, and not all of the band members were exactly legal.

Their latest album will be sold with keyboardist Maddy Wilde’s comic compilation Strictly Hyena, a 95-page photo book, or a copy of Woodhead’s handwritten lyric. The title of the album too, is sure to cause a bit of befuddlement.

“It’s actually The Only Really Thing,” Woodhead laughed, correcting me when I asked about his record The Only Real Thing. “It’s just something I say sometimes. It will confuse just enough people. There’s a line between interesting and confusing we like to walk.” That line between interesting and confusing is the very thing keeping the band afloat. Performing in unconventional spaces, at all-ages events and creating engaging live shows are some of the antics that make this band so much fun.

“We’ve always had a very visual show,” Woodhead said. “It’s our own little world on stage. We try to make everything as cartooney as possible.”

Giant cartoon text boxes, pylons and projections litter their stage. Spiral Beach has started to experiment with a musical genre that has reared its head on their latest record.

“I’ve always listened to a lot of 60s and 70s Bollywood records,” Woodhead said. “We fell in love with the super lo-fi sound, but the how intricately produced it all is. We thought, “Let’s just go for it!’”

Spiral Beach aren’t moving to India anytime soon and don’t want their Bollywood-inspired album to become something it’s not.

“We’re not singing in Hindi or anything,” Woodhead said. “We kind of tried to take more the style than anything else.”

Woodhead shares the responsibly of writing songs with his brother Airick and collaborates with Wilde and bassist Dorian Wolf.

“Basically [Airick] writes the music and I write the lyrics. Sometimes it’s like hell and other times its great,” Woodhead said. “When we’re on tour it’s really great because we’re always doing something and so busy. It’s when we’re sitting at home doing nothing…The first time we seriously fought was when I wanted him to read The Hobbit.”

If fights over J.R.R. Tolkien are any indicator of the Woodhead brothers’ future, they should be fine. The whole band has grown up together. Airick and Daniel grew up down the street from Wilde and Wolf was a friend from high school. Being together in school, at home and on tour has only brought the foursome closer together.

“We’re doing exactly what we want, ” Woodhead said from his front porch in Toronto. “I’m going to enjoy the sun while I can.” Spoken like a true beach-bum.

Spiral Beach play with Two Hours Traffic at the Mansion tonight.

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