Brendan Canning

Brendan Canning has been a part of numerous projects in music for nearly 20 years and shows no signs of slowing. The Canadian guitarist is a key founding member of the sprawling Toronto rock band Broken Social Scene, as well as the recently-revitalized Cookie Duster, and plans to do the music for a video game involving director David Cronenberg.

None of these projects have slowed Canning down as he’s released his latest solo album earlier this year, You Gots 2 Chill. Canning has a live show that isn’t too be missed as he arrives at The Chapel on December 4. The Bay Bridged had the opportunity to speak with him about his new live show.

The Bay Bridged: How has the tour been going so far?

Brendan Canning: It’s been going good. We’re really finding our feet as a band, I’m touring with a 5-piece band and I really like the way we sound, people are coming out.

TBB: Are you playing any of the songs from the first solo album or are you sticking to the more recent tracks?

BC: I’m just doing the recent stuff and then some new songs on top of that. I did play “Antique Gold” the other night, but to be honest I just wanted to go out and tour this record and tour a different sound and write a few songs with this band because it’s more fun to go out and try new songs and see what the new band sounds like.

TBB: I’m sure that writing songs on your own versus writing them as a collaboration with other people is a much different process.

BC: Yeah, it’s different. I’m showing up with actual songs that have lyrics which I don’t really do that often. (Laughs). I kinda work a different way. I try to do everything but the vocals.

TBB: Do you feel like your method is more improvisational, like you play around with a riff and that evolves into a song?

BC: Yeah, I tend to do a lot of stuff just on the day, show up, try some different ideas, but other than pour over a song at home I feel like I’m just more into moods and melodies versus traditional songs.

TBB: When you were recording the album, aside from the guest vocals from Daniela Gesundheit on “Bullied Days,” who else worked on the album?

BC: I worked with my friend Steve Singh on this record and there was a couple songs I did with Ohad Benchetrit of Do Make Say Think and Broken Social Scene. We were just sitting there trying to make an interesting piece of music. Steve is actually on tour with me too.

TBB: Are there any particular songs that are a lot different live than how you originally conceived them?

BC: They’re all different, it sounds like the album was the rough sketch for what a band could be even though there are finished ideas on there. I like them both, I just didn’t want to go touring by myself. (Laughs). I figured that would be too lonely.

TBB: I read that you were going to be joined by a violinist at your upcoming show at The Chapel in San Francisco.

BC: Yeah, he played on the record actually, Edwin Huizinga, he’s a good friend and he’s gonna be in San Francisco and we’ve done a lot playing together over the years. It’s a one-off. It’s like what Broken would do, bring guests along for one night for this show or that show. Because it’s such a new band the songs have changed and morphed a little bit and we’re trying to get more tight and solid, trying to make a good program for people to come out to. We had a gig in Winnipeg and it was a nice theater, a good room full of people, it was the perfect room for us, you could hear a pin drop. That’s where the band can sound the best because that’s where I can be a little more intricate with my guitar-picking songs and we don’t have to plow through any tunes in the loud rock and roll way, even though at the end of shows we go through a 10-minute Spiritualized jam it definitely gets voluminous. There’s plenty of guitar pedals and our shit-hot drummer but it’s still a rock band.

TBB: Since you’ve been working on new songs with the touring band do you see these new songs as being a new Brendan Canning album eventually or do you see it as a another new project?

BC: I don’t know, I’ve been complaining on this tour how this band needs a name. It may be my tunes but it’s not just me up there. “Brendan Canning and the something or others,” but those band names are tough. I’m just fronting the band but everyone in the group is working hard to make sure this thing sounds good, everyone’s got a sense of pride. Nobody wants to get up and be flat, that’s no fun for anyone. No one wants to play in a shitty band, we all want our band to be the best.

TBB: When was the last time you were on tour?

BC: The last time I was on tour was in South America in November 2011, that was the last of the Broken phase. We did a couple festivals in Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro. I’m trying to discover something about myself and this band and the music I might want to be playing 2 years from now or 5 years from now. As long as life isn’t boring then I’m happy to be doing anything.

TBB: The previous solo album was made in 2008 in the middle of Broken Social Scene. Because you knew that you were going to be going back to work with them did it change how you approached making this album?

BC: The previous record I was so in the thick of BSS which is why we put the whole “BSS Presents…” tag on it, I still feel like those are BSS records because those are primarily BSS players on there. This is a new beginning. We’re looking forward to coming to San Francisco, it’s been a few years and that’s too long to be away from San Francisco. San Francisco has been some of the best shows of my career so I’ll take what I can get from that city. Everyone’s looking forward to it here.

To enter for a chance to win tickets to see Brendan Canning and Holly Miranda at The Chapel, email with “Brendan Canning” in the subject line and your full name and email address in the body of the email. A winner will be selected at random and notified via email.

Brendan Canning, Holly Miranda
The Chapel
December 4, 2013
8pm, $15 (all ages)