Interview: We Are The City

We Are The City From left: Andy Huculiak, David Menzel, Cayne McKenzie Photo by Kirsten Berlie
We Are The City
From left: Andy Huculiak, David Menzel, Cayne McKenzie
Photo by Kirsten Berlie

We caught Cayne McKenzie, vocalist of Kelowna-born and Vancouver-based band We Are The City, to talk about touring with Shad, Violent (both the film and the album), as well as their new live record PXTK.


LotusLand: Hey there, polar bear!

Cayne McKenzie: Hey, how are you doing?

LL: Pretty good, yourself?

CM: Oh, great. Just cold up here in the arctic.

LL: [Laughter] Alright alright. Your first mission, if you choose to accept it, is to introduce yourself.

CM: Okay, I accept. My name is Cayne. That is my given name, and also what I go by.

LL: Very useful information. Judging by your arctic coldness, you’re in a far off locale?

CM: Honestly, my joke may have just fallen flat. You called me a polar bear, I said it’s cold up here in the arctic….

LL: I may or may not have totally missed that. But you actually are out of town, so what’s going on out east?

CM: We’re way out of town. We’re in Quebec city, it’s pretty cold, and there’s a lot of French going around. Some of the Quebecois are a little cold towards English-speaking people… or so I hear. I haven’t experienced it.

LL: Are you there on tour?

CM: Yes, we’re with a very nice guy named Shad.

LL: How’s that been so far?

CM: Oh, it’s been awesome. We’ve had two shows, and it’s great.

PXTK Photo by Kirsten Berlie
Photo by Kirsten Berlie

LL: Besides touring, you’re about halfway through the release of PXTK. Compared to the polished-to-perfection recordings on Violent, it’s a totally different experience. What do you find appealing about the more organic recordings in PXTK?

CM: Well, PXTK is completely organic because it’s live. It’s a show recording, just songs from Violent, and I’ll tell you what I like about it… I like that it’s live.

LL: The video recordings and the audio were from your album release show for Violent. If we jump forward a few months to the present, how do you feel about the album in retrospect?

CM: In retrospect, I feel great about it. Actually, I haven’t listened to it. If you’ve listened to it, you probably have a better idea than me. But I liked the opportunity to record songs that I wrote parts of. I loved the opportunity, I adored it.

LL: We’ve heard that the film of the same name is also complete. If you have full license to go into proud mother mode, how’s Violent the movie looking?

CM: Oh, it’s freaked. And by freaked I mean… great. You know what, the only proud mother mode I can really reference is my own mom. When she’s really excited about something, she gets excited, but she also gets a bit harsh. So maybe I’ll just say “It looks good… but… well… no, it looks good.” That’s what my mom would do, she’d act like she almost had something bad to say, but she didn’t really. She just wanted to get an opinion in there but leave it on a good note.

LL: [Laughter] Alright. Your aesthetics have always been closely tied to your music, but now you have to figure out how to top a full-length feature film…

CM: Yeah… You might actually get an audio recording of me having a heart attack if I think too much about that.

LL: Alright, deep breaths. You can always start tacking on sequels.

CM: Yeah, just part two.

LL: You can be the next Shrek 2… the only sequel I can think of right now that’s better than the original.

CM: You liked the sequel, yeah? In grade six, when the original Shrek came out, I knew every single line from that movie.

LL: [Laughter] Flawless. Are you ready for one last task before you overthrow the Shrek franchise?

CM: [Laughter] Okay.

LL: You’ve been playing with David and Andy since you were teenagers, correct?

CM: Right answer.

LL: Hopefully you have some gems for this. Before carefully selecting the name “We Are The City,” we want to know the worst, most cringe-inducing band name you came up with.

CM: Before I answer, I’ll tell you I come from a long line of bad band names. My dad was in a band when I was young, they were called Shaggy Old Joe.

LL: That’s pretty bad.

CM: And I had a shirt, I wore it for like all of grade seven.

LL: I imagine this was the height of fashion.

CM: Well… anyways, for our own band names I’ll give you some options. Our first gig, my mom made up our band name. For some reason she applied for us, through her email or something, and she called us UV Report. We didn’t even discuss that, or come up with it. Then at that show, we announced that our band name was Seraph. It was short for Seraphim, which was this bizarre, very elite angel. Anyways, we abandoned that pretty quickly. We tried the City, Brother Willow, and we were thinking of going to Chris Bane, who was just a guy that lived up the street from me. Eventually we landed on We Are The City.

LL: Well, those were cringe-inducing. Thanks for taking the time to chat, Cayne!

CM: Thank you for the interview.

LL: Keep it real, cornmeal. Bye.

We Are The City play the Vogue Theatre Nov. 29th with Shad.

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