Wolf Parade singer/guitarist Dan Boeckner didn’t have to think about what he was going to do when the band went on “indefinite hiatus” the day after their Sasquatch Festival performance earlier this year.
The nebulous breakup gave Boeckner the freedom to focus exclusively on Handsome Furs, the band he fronts with his wife, writer and keyboardist Alexei Perry. And while it wasn’t exactly planned that way, the timing could not have been better.
Boeckner and Perry spent a good chunk of last year touring the globe to promote their sophomore record, Face Control, video-ing and writing about their adventures along the way. CNN commissioned them for an eight-episode travel web series called Indie Asia, and they wrote a new collection of songs during their downtime.
That new collection of songs became their third Sub Pop full-length, Sound Kapital, which was released in June. The album marks a distinct change in songwriting for the typically guitar-first duo -- the entirety was written on keyboards.
I recently caught up with Boeckner to talk about the new album, globetrotting and pushing marital limits as he waited for some Thai food at a restaurant in Boston. The indie-rocking Bonnie and Clyde will be stopping by the Casbah Thursday as part of their current North American tour.
Scott McDonald: How’s it going?
Dan Boeckner: I’m actually suffering massive culture shock right now. We’ve been in the Balkans for two weeks, and I’ve spent the last 48 hours at a La Quinta near the Boston airport. To say the least, we’re going through some major adjustments.
SM: You’ve been traveling quite a bit.
DB: Yeah, and it’s been good. Technically, this time, we started a couple of months ago, before the record came out. We did the south of Canada and a little bit of North America -- from Montreal to Alaska and then back to Toronto. Then it was time for the crazy-ass Balkan tour, and now it’s more North America and back to Europe afterward. We haven’t really stopped playing shows.
SM: Ready for a break?
DB: I don’t really need a lot of time off. And we’re traveling around so much, it never really gets boring. It’s not like eight straight shows in Ohio or something -- and not to s-- talk Ohio; it’s a great state, but I don’t want to do eight straight shows there.
SM: How does it work live?
DB: It’s just the two of us onstage, but that was kind of a mandate that we set up when we started the band.
SM: Is that hard on the marriage?
DB: I find it easy and really like it. One of the things that Alexei and I fell in love with each other over was the moment when we realized that we were both creative people that needed space to be creative. We’re really good at allowing each other that mental and auditory space. We don’t have to talk to each other all the time. And it’s a really good thing for both of us.
SM: What prompted the switch to making things keys-driven?
DB: We just really wanted to make a record that sounds like this record sounds. Being on the road, and writing the record with a keyboard is exactly what we wanted to capture sonically for the album. And it wasn’t any more challenging than writing on guitar. Actually, it was liberating. It seemed far more natural this way.
SM: Gonna stick to the same plan for the next record?
DB: It’s the classic conundrum of the band that has more than one album. You’re stuck in this thing where people like your first record, and you either make that record again with higher production values or you change things up. If you change, someone says I liked it better before; if you stay the same, someone says it’s exactly the same. The only way to get around it is to make music that you’d want to listen to if you weren’t the people playing it. And that’s exactly what we did.
SM: You can always become a travel host full-time.
DB: We’re not doing it this year with CNN because that was a one-off type of thing, but we’ve been documenting almost everything we’ve been doing. We’ve either shot video or wrote updates on our blog for it all. And even if we weren’t traveling all over, I’d still want to do it. I’ve realized over the last couple of years, with the internet and the ability to videotape everything, there’s a possibility there -- with the people who like your band -- to be totally open. And I think that’s really important for bands like us.
SM: Will Wolf Parade ever play together again?
DB: We’re taking a big, long break. But to say that we’ll never play together again is kind of ridiculous. It’s just not going to be any time in the near future. One of my all-time favorite bands, Fugazi, used the term "indefinite hiatus." I always respected that. That’s what you say if there is a possibility. And that’s what we did with Wolf Parade.
Blogger Scott McDonald covers music in San Diego for a few different publications and is the editor of Eight24.com