A Broken Social headline

By Garth Paulson

Pick up any North American music magazine these days and you’re almost guaranteed to see something about Broken Social Scene. Everyone from Exclaim! to those notoriously picky bastards at Pitchfork have been stumbling over their vocabulary to proclaim just how wonderful this Toronto collective is. Hell, they’ve even won a Juno. But what kind of name is Broken Social Scene anyway?

“The name came from Kevin (Drew) when he and Brendan (Canning) put out (2001’s) Feel Good Lost,” explains Broken Social Scene member Andrew Whiteman. “Kevin’s a great wordsmith, he’s gifted. Strangely enough the name encapsulates our band, it’s the perfect name for us–we really are a broken social scene.”

What Whiteman is referring to is Broken Social Scene’s constantly changing lineup that can range anywhere from five to 14 members on any given day. Having so many different people who all have other commitments within the Toronto music scene can cause some headaches especially when organizing for a tour.

“You juggle, you adapt,” Whiteman explains. “Sometimes you spend a lot of money getting someone on a plane. We’re not a normal band in that sense; if we tried to solidify a line up it would just kill us, we’re in a constant mutation.”

For their present Canadian tour, which swings through Calgary Sat., Mar. 6, Broken Social Scene will be composed of a six-piece core.

“This is the first time we’ve traveled without a female singer,” Whiteman says. “It’s the testosterone show.”

Anyone familiar with Broken Social Scene’s delicious breakthrough You Forgot it in People will surely recognize the impact this could have on some of their best material. Though both “Almost Crimes” and “Anthems for a Seventeen Year-Old Girl” rely heavily on female vocals, Whiteman is not overly concerned.

“I’m trying to convince Kevin that he should do ‘Anthems…’ we often make up our mind at the last minute,” he explains. “As for ‘Almost Crimes,’ I think we will be using a lot of audience participation.”

The show will likely also be speckled with songs from their upcoming release Beehives, which is mainly comprised of odds and ends, though Whiteman warns against writing off Beehives as merely a fan pleasing tide over until a proper follow up to You Forgot it in People.

“Beehives is a lot like Feel Good Lost,” he says. “It’s our Barry White record, our love album for indie kids who just want to chill. It’s a really good mood piece.”

Speaking of love brings us back to the band’s dynamics. Many of Broken Social Scene’s press photos show various members of the band hugging, cuddling, even exchanging the occasional kiss on the head. Whiteman is quick to point out that although this is not an act, the band is not always in some blissful utopian state.

“We are friends and my friendship has deepened with all those people, but you put five to nine strong personalities together in a van and things happen,” he explains. “Having problems and hating people is utopia too.”

Whiteman even thinks those who don’t believe all the hype surrounding Broken Social Scene should still come to their show.

“Do it to prove the hype wrong, consider it an exercise in skepticism.”

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