Broken Social Scene

People bandy about the term supergroup a lot, but it lacks a concrete definition. If you subscribe to the belief that it’s a band composed of people from other bands, then by definition virtually every band is a supergroup of some kind. If you modify that definition with the caveat that members’ individual efforts must be well-known or recognized, then you approach what a super group really is.

But what about a group like Broken Social Scene? When Brendan Canning and Kevin Drew founded the group in 1999, they showed potential as an experienced cadre of veterans from Toronto’s music scene, but people weren’t throwing around the term supergroup.

Everything’s different now. At the same time the band found their footing and started to become successful, individual projects took off. It became impossible to coordinate a Broken Social Scene tour with members like Feist and Emily Haines juggling their other tours and responsibilities. To accommodate, the lineup changed and shifted in the decade-plus since they formed.

There is a solid nucleus though, as founders Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning remain staples.

“It was in 2007 and we made a pact that we would carry on without other projects for a few years,” says Drew “That time is coming to an end, and it’s about time people go and do other things because it’s very healthy for us to go off and do other projects. Sometimes it dilutes the sense of Social Scene, but you can’t help that. Music is music and the way that we make it a lot of times is to do with patience and compromise and letting everyone have their say . . . It’s an open relationship and monogamy is not something that we completely believe when it comes to a band.”

As this solid nine-piece, BSS are extremely productive. They’ve toured extensively and recorded an album (Forgiveness Rock Record) that saw the return of many other members of the extended BSS family, like Emily Haines and Feist.

“Our friends who [have been] a big part of it — Feist, Emily, Stars, Jimmy — they came on the record to keep the history going and to sprinkle some love on it, which we felt was the correct thing to do after five years of not having an album,” says Drew. “We didn’t want to have the story be, ‘Well, where are they? Why aren’t they there?’ “

What’s next for the band isn’t exactly clear. They have evolved before and it’s inevitable that they will have to evolve again.

“We just spent nine months on the road, we’re reevaluating the year, we’re looking back, we’re looking forward,” says Drew. “Anytime we finish a strong year of touring, it takes a moment to kind of get yourself back, settled down, and figure out the things you need and the things other people need. Just to see where we’re at and what we can do differently and what we need to do differently. We all knew what we were doing, we all signed up for it, we all agreed to it, so it was quite refreshing to know that you were going to have everyone beside you . . . . But in terms of heading out and what we’re going to do next, it’s up in the air. It’s just a place that you have to be responsible about.”

The band still has shows left before the hiatus. They are touring in the States, playing Coachella in April and appearing at Edmonton’s Freezing Man Festival on Jan. 29, which is a welcome rest from the rigors of playing a different city every few nights.

“I don’t really go to music festivals and I haven’t since the band started since it’s kind of my living, it’s what I do now,” says Drew. “If I get to go to a festival it will be because I’m playing it, but when you get a couple days around it, it’s fun, you get to see some great acts.”

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