Back in 1999, Brendan Canning and Kevin Drew decided to turn their friendship into Broken Social Scene. The band has since grown to include 15 different members, developing its atmospheric pop-rock sound from its mostly instrumental 2001 debut, Feel Good Lost, to its remarkably varied 2002 follow-up, You Forgot it in People.
Canning, who plays bass and guitar, explains that the group's size presents a difficulty on the road: "It can be tough now that we've been getting press for a while and touring so much. The honeymoon is over."
The band is a collective, so there are several side projects that everyone has, including solo releases and two popular bands Stars and Metric. Canning notes, "As we play more and more, there definitely seems to be a core group of people in the band, as opposed to those who really don't have as much time to devote to it." There's a revolving door policy for everyone, which allows the band to retain an amorphous structure.
With regard to the Toronto scene's increasing popularity in America and why the group has received so much press, he says, "Well, I think people's ears are just more open now than they have been in the past." He thinks that the Internet has had a major role in the band's success, crediting the plug that influential Web site Pitchfork Media gave the album in its February 2003 review. "When something like that comes from the guy who runs the site, it's really huge. It's just as good as being mentioned in Spin. Actually, it's a lot better." Not long after the Pitchfork review, the album received attention from more mainstream music publications, including Rolling Stone and the New York Times.
As to the next album the band is currently working on, there will probably be a little more jamming, but "on the whole, it's going to be in the vein of You Forgot it in People. The songs will probably be a little more developed," says Canning.
He contrasts this with its new b-sides album Beehives, which is full of songs culled from You Forgot it in People. While these were still great, he explains, they didn't really work on the album, and in a lot of cases, weren't quite as developed as songs that made it onto the album.
Although the band's percussion pedal was swiped while on tour, things could be worse -- fellow Toronto band Godspeed You! Black Emperor was detained last year in Oklahoma as suspected terrorists. "I think the difference between our two bands is that they wear a lot more black than we do," Canning explains. "On the whole, we're a pretty normal looking band." When asked about one of his bandmates who wears a hat that reads "Death Cock," he laughs. "Yeah, we do have him."
Catch BSS Fri, March 26 at the Theatre of Living Arts (334 South Street) 9 p.m. $15.