Thursday, May 1, 2008

Artist Profile: Plants and Animals

Published in UR. (May-June issue)

Artist Profile: Plants and Animals

It might seem like Montreal's Plants and Animals - the city's latest buzz band - just sprung up overnight, but that's far from the case. Frontman Warren C. Spicer and drummer Matthew Woodley have been playing together since they were 12, running around Halifax and playing in bands with unfortunate names.

"I had a band called Phart for awhile," says Spicer over lunch at Toronto's CBC building. "That band sucked really bad."

"Well it didn't really make it out of my basement," adds Woodley.

Spicer and Woodley's days in Phart and Friendly Neighbourhood Trio ("our free jazz band") is long behind them - now, along with bassist/guitarist Nic Basque, they're in one of Canada's most promising indie acts. However, their newfound success, which includes countless positive reviews and even talk of netting a Polaris Prize, was something the trio didn't plan.

"We played instrumental music for a couple of years until we started recording Parc Avenue," explains Woodley. "That too started out as instrumental and gradually evolved into more rock song structures with singing."

Plants and Animals' sound has been described as post-classic rock, with a little Radiohead thrown in. Its experimental sheen is found amongst the layers and layers of horns, violins, a makeshift choire, and even a seven-year old, which made his way onto the album because, as Woodley explains, "we just aren't that innocent anymore and we needed some innocence."

But compared to other world-travelling Quebec acts such as the Arcade Fire, Wolf Parade or last year's Polaris Prize winner and label mate Patrick Watson, these guys are Montreal scene newbies. Still, they're not fresh enough that they don't remember the days before their city was an indie rock hotbed.

"Montreal was a disco town for forever really," explains Spicer. "It still is but it's more of a rock town now which is pretty amazing because when we moved there in 1996, it was all after hours clubs that none of us could relate to."

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