Photo Credit: Robin Laananen
The music of the Canadian collective known as Broken Social Scene is as diverse as its ever changing membership. Their unique and eclectic sound has gained them praise in the Baroque pop and post-rock genres, including two Juno Awards for Alternative Album of the Year, and they are on the short list for the 2010 Polaris Award for their latest release, Forgiveness Rock Record.
Kevin Drew is no stranger to the post-rock genre. He and BSS band mate Charles Spearin released two albums as the indie Post-rock duo, KC Accidental, which included collaborations with many of the artists who would later work together as Broken Social Scene.
Broken Social Scene was formed in 1999 by Kevin and Brendan Canning. After three albums, various side projects, solo releases, and much critical acclaim, BSS released Forgiveness Rock Record in May of 2010. In August of this year, they began putting out remixes of its Forgiveness Rock Record track “All to All”. The “Spirit If” remix was done by Kevin and Ohad Benchetrit, an occasional BSS collaborator, and shares its name with Kevin’s 2007 solo release.
Kevin is currently on an international tour to support the new album, but we were lucky enough to get a few minutes with Kevin to talk about the record, the band’s unique sound, and his VOX guitars!
VOX: How did you begin your journey as an artist/musician?
Kevin Drew: I listened to music, I read Choose Your Own Adventure books, I watched movies, I went to camp, I kissed girls, I stole wine, I saw tons of sunsets and I hardly closed my eyes.
VOX: Forgiveness Rock Record is out and it’s awesome. Did you go into recording with any particular plan in mind for the record?
KD: The only plan I had was to make sure that everyone had their melodic voice heard. The six of us very much became a team with our approach to making this album and that really helped when it came to making sure we didn’t play our parts on top of each other.
VOX: Are there any recent performances or recordings you’ve done that stick out in your mind?
KD: Most shows are celebrations…but generally, the shows that catch you off guard are the best. We recently played Taipei and found ourselves in a room filled with music lovers who didn’t want the show to end. It’s the energy from a situation like that which haunts you when you play shows on nights that are not clicking so well. The Taipei crowd was the kind of crowd that made me believe a little more in the songs we were playing. I was thankful to feel that.
VOX: You and a few members of the band have been known to swap instruments in a set. Do your songwriting ideas usually start with something on guitar? If not, what do they start with?
KD: Being able to play different instruments expands your songwriting. You need restricted options sometimes when you are focusing too much on a destination. Bass is still one of my favorite ways to approach a song because of its simplicity and its immediate ground work that can carry a tune.
VOX: Broken Social Scene has frequently incorporated original tones, soundscapes, and unique noises into their recordings. Can you share any interesting “outside the box” methods you’ve used to obtain a unique sound while recording?
KD: I always used my 4-track as my main distortion pedal. I found its gain to be a unique sound in its own right. Plug-ins have come along and replaced it quite easily…but back in the day, I used to watch my EQs blow up in the red while playing a guitar in drop D for twenty minutes. Touring with it was a pain, though.
VOX: What drew you to the Ash Blonde VOX Virage?
KD: The Virage is a lovely instrument to play. Its light weight allows you to dig into the frets with very specific ease while freaking out on stage. Its design comes with various pickup options that range from hollowed out to full-bodied. Its particular strength for me is when I mix a bit of distortion from my amp…it’s a very sweet dirt that I have become addicted to. Recently, other members in my band have been stealing the Virage away from me during certain tunes. We all agree it has a character of its own and can cut through a wall of guitars quite easily. I love it. I have two of them. I highly suggest for anyone who is looking for a simple but varied sound from a guitar to check this out. [Note: Kevin also obtained a Blackburst HDC-77 recently.]
Thank you again for your time Kevin, and good luck on the road!
Check the band’s website at www.brokensocialscene.ca for tour dates and more info.