For more than a decade now, Broken Social Scene have operated as a (very) loosely organized, semi-autonomous, sorta nation-state — a collection of like-minded Canadian musicians orbiting around the group’s two founding members: Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning.
Over that time, they’ve released four proper albums, including a pair of Broken Social Scene Presents … solo albums (which featured just about everyone who played/sang on previous Broken Social Scene albums), a B-sides collection and a handful of EPs, singles and 7-inches. And you can add to that list the playing they’ve done on various albums by BSS alumni like Feist, Metric and Stars.
Needless to say, it has been a pretty hectic run — one that requires an almost superhuman ability to balance workloads and schedules. Now, with a brand-new BSS album released last week, Forgiveness Rock Record, and a just-announced North American tour on the horizon, Drew is gearing up to do it all over again.
“We are scheduling kings. We basically could give seminars on scheduling. We’re eight years deep in the scheduling world at this point,” Drew laughed. “But I wouldn’t have it any other way. And having a concise band now — everyone’s signed up to do this now for the next couple of years — we do have a solid, nine-piece foundation that’s going to be with us.”
“But really, it’s a feat of management,” frequent collaborator Charles Spearin added. “It’s sort of amazing, really.”
Having just wrapped a well-received run of U.S. shows in support of Forgiveness, Drew and company will spend much of the summer touring Europe, the U.K. and Asia, before returning to North America for a long string of dates stretching way into October. So when you consider that there will be a nine-person band (at minimum) at each show, well, you can see how being in Broken Social Scene can be a rather consuming endeavor.
“Right now, I’m having ’big-crew-aphobia.’ It’s a lot of people, so it can wear you out quickly. Everybody brings their friends or loves, and suddenly, you’re rolling 27-deep, and you go have some dinner, and there’s 27 people there,” Drew sighed. “You have to know when to hold ’em and know when to fold ’em. I think I’m going to be a bit of a lone wolf, because I get frustrated very easily these days, and I don’t want to get frustrated at my friends or the band, because that would just take away from the whole point of why we’re doing this.”
Though, to be fair, life on the road is probably not as strenuous as we’re making it out to be. After all, BSS have been touring like this for nearly a decade, which means they’ve got things pretty much figured out.
“One of the positive things is that, because it’s a big crew, there’s a lot of personalities to choose from,” Spearin said. “If you want to go have dinner with somebody quiet, if you [want to] stay on the bus and read, if you want to go out and party, you’re not stuck together in a small group where you’re always doing the same thing. You can kind of branch out.”
“And [there’s] texting now — we didn’t have texting back then,” Drew laughed. “Now you can sit in the van and just text them: ’When we get out of the van, let’s pretend we’re going to the room, then get in the elevator, then meet me back in the lobby and let’s go have dinner.’ Before, you were trying to whisper it in a van filled with 13 people. Thank God for texting, for those reasons.”
Are you excited that Broken Social Scene are going back out on tour? Tell us in the comments!