Kevin Drew has a warning for fellow indie rockers — don’t get greedy.
The singer and guitarist has seen a lot of changes in the music business since Broken Social Scene came together nearly a decade ago. For one, there are more people paying attention to bands that would have never received attention in the pre-Napster days. And that’s not necessarily a good thing.
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“The success of indie rock has brought more greed into the fold,” warns BSS’ co-founder and co-owner of Toronto label Arts & Crafts.
Drew says a lot of corporate money is flooding into the scene, and bands are jumping at the chance to land a big paycheque at the risk of their integrity.
He points to the Flaming Lips, whose single Do You Realize? was the soundtrack for a Land Rover commercial. “It was one of the worst spots ever,” he says. “It was a song written to his lover, and the commercial was a car, rearview mirrors and the grill.”
BSS has had their music in a commercial too, but Drew justifies using Stars and Sons in a Cadbury spot because it was only shown in New Zealand and he thought it was well done.
Because commercials are often as powerful today as an MTV video used to be, he thinks a day will come where corporations demand bands pay them to use a song. “It’ll be like payola,” he says. “When that day comes that means we failed, we went about this all wrong.”
With that in mind, it’s unlikely music from BSS’ new album, Forgiveness Rock Record, will wedge its way into your primetime TV schedule. However, if there was any disc ripe for the corporate treatment it’s this one.
The band’s fourth release does away with the fuzzy noise, drowned out vocals and melodic wall of sound that’s marked previous efforts. It’s a pop record through and through. It’s refreshing to hear Drew and Brendan Canning’s voices, and the songs are as strong as ever, but for better or worse, this record is their most conventional.
“It’s a more cohesive pop record than we’ve ever made before,” says Drew. “I love burying the vocals but it didn’t work. And a lot of the sound is just time and age.”
Part of it was also that BSS, once a band that had upwards of 18 members, is now down to six (including Charles Spearin, Andrew Whiteman, Justin Peroff and Sam Goldberg). Drew says they simply couldn’t manage so many strong willed people, each with their own projects and managers.
“We really became a band in 2008,” he says. “We wanted to make a point for people to know that this is a really focused effort by these people. It feels like there’s actually boundaries and walls and places for people.”
Bryan Borzykowski is a business and entertainment writer. Follow Metro Music on Twitter @TheMetroMusic