Updated: May 16
by Scott Roos
photo by Sterling Larose
They’re still hip, relevant and fresh. They still rock hard but bring folk and pop sensibilities like only they can. They’re still personable, vibrant, charming and humorous. In short, Vancouver’s Said the Whale has been the “band next door” for fifteen years now. They’ve accomplished a lot in that timespan - more than most - but if their seventh LP entitled Dandelion, which releases October 22nd, is any indication, they still have a lot to prove and a lot of gas in the tank to do it.
Composed in a relaxed and less time sensitive environment due to the pandemic, Dandelion enabled the band to think through each track in detail as each recording session had more time in between than previous outings. The band worked around various government shutdowns but were essentially in their own "bubble". The refined and evolved approach from everything COVID-19 threw at Said the Whale has served each song on Dandelion well.
“It was nice because we were able to think about the songs in between sessions and live with the songs for a little while. It was chill. It was a nice way to make music,” said vocalist/guitarist Tyler Bancroft in a recent chat with NSMZ.
During the pandemic, Bancroft, apart from writing songs for Dandelion, has tried to keep himself busy in numerous ways. He manages bands, has started his own record label, but most importantly, he’s also a dad.
"The one that's clinging onto my pants right now that won't leave me alone is five and then my youngest has just turned two,” chuckles Bancroft.
Fatherhood aside, with Bancroft’s mind for the business, it seems that starting up his own record label, called Everything Forever, seemed like a natural next step.
“It's one of my COVID realizations. I work in management and I love helping bands. That's my passion and I just realized that in the scope of artist management I can't really help as many bands as I would like to because management is such a marriage kind of situation and it's only reasonable to take on so many clients before you have your hands too full. In the scope of a label you can work with more artists because it's less of a forever kind of relationship in that sense. It's ironic because the label's called Everything Forever," chuckles Bancroft.
Marriage is an interesting choice of words as many long time bands have often described the internal workings and relationships of the band members to one another as almost marital in a metaphorical sense. In those terms, Bancroft is able to characterize, consider, and describe how he works with co-lead vocalist Ben Worcester. Worcester and Bancroft are the original members of the band. They’ve been together the longest and couldn’t be more different personality wise.
"In the context of Ben and I's creative relationship, I'm always the person that is seeing the big picture. Certainly in the context of songwriting I generally come to the table with slightly more fully formed ideas just because that's sort of how my brain processes songwriting and Ben more comes with a feeling and a bunch of ideas and there's just a ton of emotion. So in the context of my roll when Ben brings a song to the table, I guess my roll is to take his emotion and help him turn it into a fully formed song and vice versa when I'm bringing a song that usually fully formed I feel his presence forces me to make sure that everything has that emotion. When I'm writing songs I'm actively trying to impress Ben with how emotional it is. My favourite part of the songwriting process is when I can see that Ben is impacted by a song that I've written. I feel like it's funny how somebody can shape your creative process without really sticking their nose too far in but him just being there makes me a better songwriter," Bancroft explains.
"When you have these long standing creative relationships, I think at this point fifteen years in it really is more about the presence of everybody and the dynamic and less about 'this person writes this guitar part bleh...' and it really is just more like 'this is the kind of music that comes out of me when I'm in the presence of these people.' and if I was writing music with other people for a band that had different members, I think probably my songwriting would reflect that and how I was trying to impact that group dynamic. It's very situational," continues Bancroft.
Said the Whale will be coming to Prince Albert to headline this year’s edition of Chester Fest on Friday, Sept. 10th at at H.O.P. Youth Place (formerly Par Place). It’s one of only a few live shows that the band has played since restrictions have eased. Said the Whale, throughout their career have played all manner of shows, big and small. When asked about the benefits and positives of playing a small town festival like Chester Fest, Bancroft is reflective and positive.
"I honestly love the small town festival. you get such a mixed bag of crowd. You get a little pocket of hip young people, you get a bunch of hippies, you get a bunch of older people that just want to hear a beat, you get kids, you get it all. It's awesome and you know the best part about it is usually the hospitality nature of it. There's this level of home cooked kinda feeling that you get from a festival like that. Usually you're very well taken care of. And I don't mean at a level where you're getting fancy this and fancy that. You're getting a lot of love. That's what it feels like backstage at the small town festivals so it's always really fun,” Bancroft muses.
Bancroft and Said the Whale will join other acts like Altameda, Blake Bergund, The Dudes, Chilliwack, Megan Nash and a load of others. Single day tickets as well as weekend passes are still available but, as you can imagine, are moving quickly for this unique event. Passes and tickets can be purchased here: chesterfest.ca/tickets. The lineup is stellar and the entertainment value is well worth the price of admission.