Old habits die hard

Said the Whale’s Tyler Bancroft talks music pirating and the industry

The first venue that Said the Whale played in Kingston was a house party.
The first venue that Said the Whale played in Kingston was a house party.
Credit: 
Supplied by Vanessa Heins

Despite having toured for over five years, they have yet to make a pit stop in Kingston — until now.

Well, sort of.

“Once upon a time we played a house show in Kingston,” Tyler Bancroft, Said the Whale’s frontman, said.

In 2009, the band sent out a tweet asking if anyone in Kingston wanted them to play a house party.

So they did.

The tweet, saying something along the lines of “hey, if anyone wants us at a house party, we’d love to play,” was met with an invite into a Kingstonian’s humble abode.

Accompanied by good food and a keg, Bancroft said it was a great introduction to the Limestone City.

Said the Whale’s personalized touch on gigs isn’t the only thing drawing in audiences.

Their take on the music industry and their new album are also big pulls. Their Grad Club show tonight is sold out.

It’s easy to get caught up in the industry, Bancroft said, but hawaiii, the band’s latest work, represents a change in production process.

hawaiii, not to be confused with the American state, is Said the Whale’s fourth full-length album.

Bancroft no longer creates to please or meet others’ expectations.

“There’s these sorts of outside pressures that can influence our songwriting,” he said. “I just didn’t give a fuck about anything, all the fucks went out the window.”

This “no-fucks-given” attitude had some ironic results.

The album’s first single “I Love You” is the band’s most successful song on the radio to date — not bad for not trying to please.

Taking a turn from their usually catchy, upbeat tunes like “I Love You,” Bancroft penned the album’s latest single, “Helpless Son.”

“I cried when I wrote that song,” he said.

Bancroft’s mother battled cancer when he was 13 and, fortunately, is a survivor.

He said the song is about watching a loved one deal with health problems or any sort of pain, one that you have no control over at all.

“It was a way to show my mom how much I appreciate her,” he said, “but also tackle the universal subject of people dealing with watching their loved ones go through an illness or suffering.”

The heartfelt song’s music video, which was shot and edited by Bancroft, was released two weeks ago. It’s possibly the band’s most contemplative and expressive piece.

The Vancouver-based band didn’t completely stray away from old habits. They collaborated with long-time friend and fellow Vancouverite Tom Dobrzanski of The Zolas again. They’ve recorded all of their albums in Dobrzanski’s studio.

As the album’s co-producer, Bancroft has a long wish list of future collaborators but faces the harsh realities of the industry.

“Producers are very expensive,” he said. “Spending a whole buttload on records in this current music industry would not be a wise decision.”

It’s not news that the record labels and musicians are going through a hard time.

“I think the average person has a lot of misconceptions of the music industry,” he said. “When they are paying for an album they often assume that all of their money is going to some giant evil corporation that exists solely to rip off the artist.”

In the majority of cases, this is far from the truth. Most musicians, like Said the Whale, have a lot more control over their music.

“It actually does hurt us when people illegally download music, but on the flipside, it actually does help us when people pay for music,” Bancroft said. “It enables us to make more music in the future.”

Said the Whale will play a sold-out show at The Grad Club tonight.

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