With their new album 'Hug Of Thunder', Broken Social Scene are getting the gang back together.
The idea of community is particularly prevalent at the moment, with the kindness of friends and neighbours blooming in an otherwise bleak landscape.
It’s with a similar mentality that Broken Social Scene are returning after a seven-year break, minus a few festival shows, with fifth album ‘Hug Of Thunder'. What makes the record especially apt for these times is its beginnings: the 2015 Bataclan attacks in Paris prompting the band to bring their own brand of positivity back into the world.
But that’s not the only link: arriving in the UK earlier this year for two shows to mark Broken Social Scene’s resurrection, the first date was to take place in Manchester - the day after Ariana Grande performed at Manchester Arena. Their comeback show was thrown into a spotlight they hadn't anticipated as one of the first in the city after a devastating terror attack that killed twenty-three adults and children.
The following day, Kevin Drew and co-founder Brendan Canning are in London and feeling a little worse for wear. "Kevin was a little bit apprehensive," Brendan explains, "but we just felt... you know, the bombing, and Ariana Grande - you felt a little bit nervous, but I was ready to get back at it."
"It's good to be with your friends," Kevin continues, "and yesterday was a very intense and beautiful day. It was the way we started; we were all with friends."
One of the friends in attendance was Manchester's beloved son, Johnny Marr. "The fact that he came," Kevin beams. "I said, ‘Johnny, we'll never forget that, forever'. He was going to come originally, but then everything happened, and he didn't want to do it. He was too emotional, but then near the end of the day, about an hour before the show, he came." Breaking the story with laughter, he continues: "He was like, ‘Sorry to be dramatic!' [I said], you be however you need to be."
This pair of UK shows were originally supposed to align with the album release. However, plans changed and it shifted to July - one of the few downsides to having such a vast number of members. "Putting the record together took some time," Kevin explains, "just to select the songs because so many people had these loves and attachments, and you had to work through them."
It's difficult to pin down the band's sprawling and ever-changing cast, which can include as few as five or as many as twenty people. "[We're all] very strong-minded individuals," Brendan says of their membership. "It's a miracle that we ever get anything done. And that's just the core members! Whether it's Feist or Emily Haines, everyone's strong, they can all produce their own record. They can all steer their own ships quite successfully."
Broken Social Scene are an organic beast, swelling and decreasing in number dependant on circumstance, but its core always remains. Touring can present an issue though - how do you bring a collective on tour? "We always try and get everybody out, but first it's unaffordable and two it's difficult scheduling wise," Kevin offers.
"It's gotta be worth it because you're dragging a fucking cavalcade, a travelling circus," Brendan laughs. "But some days, the phone rings it's like, ‘Hey, you wanna play with Morrissey at this castle in Malaga?' You're like, well I've never been to Malaga, let's do it!"
Each band member brings something different to the table, and since their 2001 debut, ‘Feel Good Lost', Broken Social Scene have consistently tried new things. "I grew up in the suburbs, so I was into pro wrestling and heavy metal," says Brendan, a self-confessed metal head, who's a fan of bands like Slayer and Celtic Frost, "but I always liked pop music." It's his role to bring "the energy, the angst of it, I think that's more my job in this band. I inject a bit of angst."
"At the end of the day, you're just trying to do something new and fresh together," Kevin continues, "and be who you are and sound like who you are and keep to the values of what got you there. It's the muscle memory that keeps you going because you know the heartbeats of the people around you. It creates a comfort that makes it easier to be out there doing it, you are a team."
Broken Social Scene hold a special place in many a music fan’s heart - and their new album is both a world away from their early beginnings, yet somehow, much the same. ”You're thinking, yeah, there's twelve of us on stage, or the next show there's five of us or the next there's nine of us,” Brendan laughs. “You're writing different songs, that's the beauty when first starting out - you're not thinking about the ‘industry’. I was more thinking, this feels good.”
Taken from the August issue of Dork. Order a copy below. Broken Social Scene's album 'Hug of Thunder' is out now.