By Luke Hellewell – Hamilton, ON
“We write what we know.”
Said the Whale is the brainchild of the singer-songwriter duo (and best friends), Ben Worcester and Tyler Bancroft. It began as a past time… a way of reflecting in the diverse city of Vancouver, where they still call home. After jamming together casually in high school, Worcester and Bancroft slowly pieced together their 2008 debut album Howe Sounds/Taking Abalonia (released via Upper Management Recording Co.).
Like the clever band that they are, Said the Whale twist and turn their way through genres… smoothly and without hesitation. Their sound is rooted in authentic, judiciously chosen lyrics backed by sweet harmonies, surfy guitars and a jazzy-yet-driving rhythm section.
These days they find themselves busy with touring and family life… and finding the balance in both. Said the Whale recognizes the importance of the British Columbian outdoors and the effect it has had on the whole bonding process.
“We grew up in the outdoors,” explains vocalist/guitarist Tyler Bancroft. “Ben has a cabin 40 minutes outside of town on Gambier Island and has become an avid fisherman over the past five years. My father is a retired tugboat captain, so as a kid, we would take the family boat out and explore the Gulf Islands.”
With four full-length albums, nearly a dozen EPs and a Juno Award (for Best New Group in 2011), the indie rock outfit have toured the country prolifically bringing to the table their energetic live performances and ability to engage their audiences. Though the members of the group are all rather individual, there are two goals common to all of them: to write beautiful, honest songs and to make a living doing so.
“When you’re on tour, you’re in a weird little bubble. Things that are completely bizarre from a real world perspective become everyday occurrences,” laughs Bancroft. “It’s this weird reality of playing music and sleeping in a different city every night while covering hundreds of kilometers a day- inside a van.”
Though the pains of life on the road can sometimes bring out “the worst of the best of them”, there is one thing that will always settle any debate. “Thai food!” Bancroft exclaims. “If you’re a vegan, you can eat it! If you’re a meat lover, you can eat it! We all love Thai food.”
Though they hardly deviate from the tried-and-tested “album every two years” formula, the Vancouver musicians find they work best by not stressing over deadlines and slowing down in the studio.
“We like to take our time with it because writing music is hard!” says Bancroft. “Our process begins with Ben and I writing separately, then together to see what ideas excite us… then fleshing them out with the rest of the band at rehearsal.”
It’s that degree of patience and dedication that set the group apart from nearly all of their contemporaries in the Canadian music scene. Whether their writing involves love and loss, the outdoors or watching their families grow up and old together, Said the Whale will only ever write about what they know. And that’s a promise.
Get yourself up to speed at saidthewhale.com