To say Said The Whale’s guitarist and singer Tyler Bancroft is a multi-tasker is a bit of an understatement.
In addition to his guitar and vocal duties, Bancroft also manages the Vancouver area rock group. So you can’t blame him if this reporter caught him sawing wood with so many things to do. Except for the fact he’s actually sawing wood, not sleeping!
“I’m in the middle of some stage design problems and have to make a couple of cuts,” he says. “You can hear me right now sawing things. I’ve always been someone who tries to strive in a really stressful environment. So here I am creating as much stress as possible for myself and loving every minute of it man.”
The band is loving the early responses to songs from their new album Cascadia, a record Bancroft says is a creative U-turn from 2017’s As Long As Your Eyes Are Wide.
“This is just sort of the antithesis of that which was just sitting down with guitars and writing guitar songs,” he says. “So I think it was just a natural response to having done something so outside of the box. We just write what comes to us in that particular time. Then try and find a way to make it fit together.”
Bancroft says the group, which plays two nights at Toronto’s Phoenix Concert Theatre (Feb. 28 and March 1) supporting Mother Mother, felt at home during the recording process. This was primarily due to recording in his “old bike shed” near his apartment and in a cabin guitarist, Ben Worcester has on Gambier Island just north of Vancouver.
“I don’t want to say that we didn’t put any effort into it or any love into it because we put so much love and effort into it,” he says. “It just felt really natural. This is music that comes most naturally to us and so as a result we have is our most Said The Whale Said The Whale record.”
Cascadia contains some fine tunes worth of much radio play including “Wake Up” and “Level Best,” the latter a thoughtful message to Bancroft’s young son that his father will be there for him through thick and thin. The band also shot a music “vignette” for the tune showing Bancroft walking through the woods with his son on his shoulders.
“That one was just me in my studio feeling emotional about my son,” he says with a laugh. I just started the song there and just fleshed it out in the cabin and took it to the studio for drums. I really like ‘Level Best’ because it means so much to me and my kid. I get kind of choked up when we play it.”
Meanwhile another track “Old Soul, Young Heart” is a song inspired by fellow B.C. musician Dan Mangan who has since heard and approved of the number.
“Dan heard it, he was pretty smitten,” Bancroft says of Mangan’s reaction. “That was actually an old demo that Ben had and we just felt the record needed a tender middle and so we took that demo and added another verse to it and then recorded the piano on it. We did that all ourselves and it came together really quickly.”
The album is also the first for the band since signing to the influential Arts & Crafts label. It was a “dream come true” when both sides discussed a partnership.
“That label has been a special label for me my entire life,” he says. “My first Canadian indie reckoning was discovering Broken Social Scene. I saw the Arts & Crafts logo on the front and from then that label became a tastemaker for me almost. I discovered a ton of amazing artists just from going to the Arts & Crafts website and seeing who they were signing.”
Finally Said The Whale will be touring Canada, the States and elsewhere while probably performing “Record Shop” and plenty of others from Cascadia. Bancroft says his favourite record shop is Vancouver’s Red Cat Records but avoids shopping for vinyl while on tour.
“The main problem is you’re on the road, you’re on a tight budget and then what you fucking walk into the record store and spend all your dinner money on records? Then you got all these vinyl albums floating around in the tour van. It’s really just, bad. It’s bad for the pocketbook. It’s great to support record stores and I encourage everyone to do that when they’re not on tour. But on tour, it can be a dangerous prospect.”