Herald’s Q&A: Said The Whale

Proudly representing Western Canada, Said The Whale brings their patented blend of indie rock to St. John’s for a true home-away-from-home showcase


Vancouver indie rockers Said The Whale are no stranger to Newfoundland and Labrador. The trio of Tyler Bancroft, Jaycelyn Brown and Ben Worcester celebrates their 20th anniversary of their first performance in St. John’s by bringing their Cascadia Canadian tour to St. John’s on December 2nd at The Rock House.

Bancroft caught up with The Herald to talk West Coast culture, memories of The Rock and being proudly ‘uncool’. 

You guys are back in St. John’s on December 2nd. Said The Whale always seems to take the time to include us in your touring schedule. Very rare for most groups. 

The first time we ever came to St. John’s, it was in 2009. We were playing okay shows all across Canada. And then we played at The Ship. Jud Haynes put it on for us and it was packed, sold out and we could not believe it. 

And we just at that moment realized that so few bands make the effort to go out to St. John’s, that when you just simply make the effort, people will come and they’re appreciative. So that makes it easy for us. And plus, the city itself is one of my favourite cities in the world. 

Newfoundland, there’s so much history, there’s so much passion and reverence for the past. It’s just so rooted in tradition. I love it. I can’t wait to be there. 

You’re touring in support of Cascadia, a record that is decidedly more optimistic than its predecessor, which was released in the wake of a lot of changes in the band. 

The record before this one, As Long as Your Eyes are Wide, was sort of the first foray into a three piece. And along with that came a departure sonically. We were experimenting and as well, the themes of that record were pretty heavy and somber. 

This one is definitely like a return to comfort and a return to the sound that we’re perhaps more known for. More kind of guitar based indie rock and a lot of nature based, which is another thing that we became known for when we first started as a band. And that’s perhaps our signature. 

It all just feels very comfortable now in a good way. I think it was important to be out of your comfort zone and that helps you grow as an artist. But it is also nice to just feel content and comfortable.  

The bio on your website describes Said The Whale’s music as “pure west coast.” Take me through what it means to have that west coast flavour. 

I think more of it is kind of an attitude and the way that attitude shows itself in the music. For us we are writing songs through the lens of people who live on the West Coast and have a deep respect for nature and a sense of place because there really is no where like the Pacific Northwest. And it’s a very special place. 

People who are from here and people who have been here realize how breathtaking it is and it’s easy to take for granted. And so we try not to by honouring that in our music to some degree. Even the songs we’re writing that are blatantly referencing the West Coast or natural themes are still through the lens of us as people who live here and have that sort of ethos about us.

Said The Whale is a band that have been labeled as indie. What does indie mean to you in 2019?

Some would say that indie is a way of operating whereby the artist is more in control of decision making. You’re operating at a smaller scale, or perhaps part of some fabric of counterculture as a way of describing music. To me, it’s always sort of being intrinsically connected to the early 2000s rise of like indie rock in Canada, specifically like Arcade Fire and Broken Social Scene were at the forefront of this indie rock revolution in Canada where it just got really popular. 

That happened to be at a time where I was having a musical awakening. I was 18 years old when all that stuff was going on. It was very influential for me. Sonically, I equate that to up tempo guitars, roomy drums, a lot of organic sound and kind of murky production in some way and melodies that are sweet and beautiful but not necessarily makes the radio. 

Said The Whale seems to always connect with audiences in a live setting. Why do you think that is?

I think a lot of it is just sort of the sense of connection that we can get onstage with people. Mainly, I think a large contributor to that is the fact that we are not very cool (laughs). I think when you see a band on stage and they’re very cool it’s intimidating and it can be hard to relate to that band because they’re so cool. And you as an audience member are probably not as cool or you don’t feel as cool. 

I think when people see us onstage for better, for worse, because, you know, it’s maybe hindered our potential for mainstream success, we’re not that cool. We look pretty average. We act fairly average, but are quite relatable people. We’re very approachable and generally friendly. You see a lot of smiles on stage. So I think that level of down to earth, like hometown, kind of yee-hah country approachable vibe makes it so that the live show feels very intimate regardless of how large the venue is. 

For tickets and more on Said The Whale at The Rock House visit saidthewhale.com and visit the event page on Facebook. 

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