an interview with dan boeckner of wolf parade
  • MONDAY, JULY 19, 2010

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Recently I spoke to guitarist Dan Boeckner, and he confirmed my suspicions that the music of Wolf Parade is just a truthful reflection of the minds behind it; passionate, inspired, and surprisingly approachable.

Abysmal heat is not ordinary for Montreal, at least in the minds of someone who has only spent an early fall weekend there (in the abysmal freeze). But when I called up Boeckner, he seemed just as perturbed by the thermostat as those of us sweating bullets in New York. He immediately apologized for any nonsensical, heat related tangents, but I was more than happy to oblige... I could barely contain my own perspiration while cooped up in the Guest Apartment, leaning close to the phone, intrigued by the thoughts of a musician currently living the dream of half of Brooklyn's pseudo-professionals. Wolf Parade has established itself as a driving force in the indie rock world, whether the charts or the stadiums ever realize it. The beauty of this is that Boeckner doesn't care, with the typical stance of a true artist, he is happy to have the free time to create, to explore new sounds, and to never have another day job.

Wolf Parade have been around for a few years now, but I was curious about the Boeckner before
the storm (however, arguably he was stormier before), and you might be too, so here is a little background. His early years in Montreal were spent in true origin form, depressed, working a crummy job he disliked, and playing music on the side. "We were drinking a lot back then... well, I was drinking a lot." Can you imagine getting a telemarketer call from a young Dan Boeckner? Because it really happened to some (I'd argue lucky) Americans. Anyways, it was at this time that he met Spencer Krug, and despite their differences, their union was very natural. Funny that they had intended to back each other up in two separate bands (Krug's being Sunset Rubdown, and Boeckner's being untitled), as Wolf Parade would become synonymous with "a bajillion side projects" in later years. But that is just a byproduct of musicians who are dedicated to writing, a lot, whenever the mood strikes.

Wolf Parade happened accidentally when the two were billed as one, and have often been called a band with a split personality, equal parts Krug and Boeckner. Although they trade off songwriting duties, they write as one, Boeckner backed up this claim. "It's always been that way, but it sounds like it now more than ever" he told me, when we circled back to the band's most recent record. It's named for a fair that all of the band members attended as kids, and in a way, it's a return to a simpler methodology&mdash recording with as few separate tracks as possible, to tape, with no digital processing. Old school to say the least.

Expo 86, the third record from the band, is the first to strip the digital knobs from its toolbox. Boeckner explained the process of recording; perfecting the songs in the live setting before bringing them into the studio was an infinitely more natural way of doing things, albeit with a higher price tag. Using exclusively tape to record the tracks is prohibitively expensive for younger bands. Wolf Parade finally has the resources to do it, and Boeckner called it "the most honest Wolf Parade record to date", "true to sound". We talked at length about the importance of a genuine sounding record, and how At Mt. Zoomer was the band just doing whatever they wanted to do. "We didn't want to make a more polished version of the first record". They've done it again, forging their own path, and the sound is slowly settling into equilibrium... a solid Wolf Parade sound. Honesty is important in a record, as many keen reviewers have pointed out over the years. You can hear sincerity, and along those lines, Expo 86 rings true from start to finish.

"I like this style of recording. I probably won't go back". After seeing their blistering set at Terminal Five last week, I'd have to agree, it's working.

This is Boeckner's favorite Wolf Parade LP. "It's the one I listened to the most" he told me, although admitting he doesn't listen much after the records are put out. In fact, he doesn't have much time to listen to anything amidst his creative process. Now that Expo is done, the band will be touring, and Boeckner will be trying to finish up some Handsome Furs recording in Asia. But despite the myriad of music he creates, he'd rather stay at the level the band has already achieved. Playing Terminal Five suits Wolf Parade and their style.

"Anyone can open for Wolf Parade" he told me, and I believed him. That's all you need to know about Dan Boeckner. He comes off on stage as the brash young rocker playing with a lit cigarette, the quintessential bad-ass (and he totally is). But he is also a really nice guy, who loves what he does, and has found his happiness in making music. He didn't mind answering my (probably tired) questions about his ties to Springsteen ("I guess I listened to him a lot in my youth, but it's a subconscious thing") or discussing the importance of sincerity in follow-up records like Vampire Weekend and MGMT (he hasn't heard it yet, but maybe as per our conversation he'll listen and mull it over). It felt more like a conversation with a friend than a larger than life personality, and that kind of conversation, whether in real life or through the music (or both), is at the core of every record I've ever loved.

Expo 86 is out now, and worth every penny. -joe puglisi

* * * * * * * * * * * *
MP3: "Ghost Pressure" (Expo 86)
Wolf Parade on Myspace

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