When we gave Tyler Bancroft, singer and guitarist for Said the Whale a call, he didn’t know he had an interview that day. That’s because Tyler and the band have a little more than interviews on their minds; with four successful studio albums under their belts, the band is experiencing what success in the music industry can be like–constant touring, shows, and recording, never knowing where they’re going to be next, while at the same time feeling the pressure of growing up and settling down.
On their latest LP, hawaiii, the band showed us that they could experiment with just about every genre and sound, from Radiohead-esque rolling beats to synth-packed jams to rock anthems to the occasional hip-hop crossover. We talked to Tyler about the new record, growing up, the underground rap scene in Vancouver, his high school years. A full transcript of the interview can be found below.
LotusLand: Hey there. First off, can you introduce yourself?
Tyler Bancroft: Hey man, this is Tyler from Said the Whale.
LL: Cool. You guys just released your latest album, hawaiii–how’s the reaction been so far?
TB: It’s been good! It’s a record for people who are really fans of our band, it’s got the full spectrum of genre capabilities, I guess you could say–we’ve always liked to dabble in lots of different genres, and I think we really show what we’re capable of. There’s some heavier rock stuff on the record, and some nice mellow, introspective songs, so I think it’s a good one for fans and a good introduction to people who haven’t heard us before.
LL: You mentioned the introspective songs; the album is very mature and deals a lot with growing up and family. What led to this kind of stuff coming up in the record?
TB: I think it’s because we’re going through those exact motions… for myself, I’m 28 years old, I’ll be 29 in a month, and I’ll be 30 in a year after that. It’s a weird expectation that people have for themselves, or that society seems to have, that since you’re in your thirties you need to have all your shit together and be financially stable–that sort of thing. And me, I’m in a band driving across the continent endlessly, with a very volatile career that could collapse at any moment. There’s hardly any money in it; we’re all struggling. Some people who I’ve gone to high school with have stable careers or are getting married, they’re pregnant and have stable things in their lives that I can’t even imagine having.
LL: So growing up has really impacted the band?
LL: One of the tracks on the new record, “Resolutions,” features Shad on it. How did that come about?
TB: We’ve been friends with Shad for quite a while as part of the music scene here in Vancouver. We had this weird song with a kind of Radiohead-ish beat, and it just wasn’t weird enough, so we put a little rap verse at the end of it and it just fades right out. A very experimental and kinda weird song.
LL: Hey, I really liked it. What other artists are you looking at? Any more hip-hop crossovers in store?
TB: I have no idea! I mean, the rap scene in Vancouver, as far as I can tell, is very underground. There’s a few crews and I used to go to their shows and stuff. You know, the Imaginations Treetrunk crew and some Eastvan dudes, but I haven’t heard from them in a little bit. So yeah, hip-hop wise the only guy we know who we’re really good friends with would be Shad.
LL: Well, speaking of Vancouver, I’ve got a very Vancouver question for you.
LL: If you guys had four hours to give someone a complete tour of the city, where would you take them?
TB: Oh, that’s an awesome question. Are we hungry?
LL: Oh yeah. You’re hungry.
TB: We would start off on Main Street. If this person’s into shopping, this would show them a lot of cool shops up and down Main. We would probably go for sushi at my favourite sushi place, which I’m not telling the name of… then we’d probably go to grab an ice cream cone, since I’m assuming it’s a summer’s day. Then we’d head west, maybe we’d stop for a beer at 33 Acres to sample some of the craft beer businesses that have popped up, since they’re awesome. Then we’d probably go down to False Creek–we’d have to do this fast, eating the sushi and drinking the beer. Granville Island is a good one. Then west to see some of the beaches, Jericho Beach and Spanish Banks… then, because we don’t have a lot of time, it’s always good to get up to one of the mountains, maybe up Cypress so we can look out and get the last lay of the land.
LL: Man, that sounds like a good tour.
TB: I want to do that now!
LL: One side effect of being called Said the Whale is being asked some really annoying questions. How many times have you been asked “What did the whale say?”
TB: Way, way too many. It’s an annoying question, and I really just don’t ever answer it.
LL: A blast from the past now; when Ben was in high school, he had a lead role in Fiddler on the Roof. Did you see him on stage?
TB: I was onstage with him! We were both in musicals in high school–kind of musical theatre dorks. He was Tevio in Fiddler… I was a lowly Russian dancer. He was also in Little Shop Of Horrors, I was in Leader of the Pack. We both did a ton of musical theatre back in high school.
LL: If you could play a musical soundtrack with the band, what would it be?
TB: Leader of the Pack is actually a really good one because it’s about two songwriters, that would be really interesting. Grease is just a classic too–I know its cliche to say Grease is your favourite musical, but I really dig it.
LL: Not only were you into theatre in high school, but you also won the Canadian National Skills Competition for a short film one year, right?
TB: Jesus Christ, where are you doing this research?
LL: Just around. Can you tell me a bit about the project?
TB: Yeah, it was with my pal John Taggart, who since has done a whole lot of band photography for us. Aside from being musical theatre dorks, we were also film and movie dorks. So that was what we put all our energy into. We entered a competition that focused mostly on the trades and stuff, but also had a film competition open. We submitted our piece and just ended up winning.
LL: Most bands, when they start playing music, have really, really awful names. What was the worst name you guys were thinking of before “Said the Whale?”
TB: That question is loaded in a way that sounds like we have a great band name right now, sadly.
LL: I like it.
TB: Well thank you! I think its a bit ridiculous, but hey, we’re stuck with it, so thats that. Ben and I used to have a website called “Words Over Music,” but that was never a band, more just a project. I had a bunch of bad band names in high school, but I don’t want them in print, you being the researcher you are.
LL: Well, that’s about it. Anything to say to the fans out there?
TB: We appreciate anyone who listens to us–it’s kind of crazy thinking of them as fans, since they’re basically supporting my career in music. So to all of those people, thank you.
LL: Thanks Tyler, that’s a wrap!