It’s not easy being an overworked Canadian indie band. Just ask You Say Party! We Say Die! whose members nearly came to blows on their last tour.
“One half of the camp was on one side of the street and the rest of us were on the other side,” says the Vancouver-based band’s lead singer Becky Ninkovic. “It took a day before the manager could even get us in the van together.”
It all started to fall apart on week 14 of their 16-week European tour. Ninkovic got sick, and without any breaks in the schedule, she had to push herself night after night. “It led pretty much to a total breakdown,” she says.
Part of the problem was that the band, who despite three well-received records was still just an independent act trying to make a name, took every opportunity to play. That led to a packed itinerary and a rock ’n’ roll lifestyle that they couldn’t keep up with.
“There’s so much alcohol and drugs pushed on you,” says Ninkovic. “You’re sleep deprived, malnourished — you have to learn how to take care of yourself, but unfortunately some of those lessons can only be learned the hard way.”
You Say Party finished the tour, but when the band members got back to Canada they went their separate ways.
Ninkovic retreated to her house where, she says, she underwent a sort of rebirth. “I came to a place of brokenness and that’s when the power came in. I had epiphany after epiphany that brought me to a place of love.”
It turns out the whole band was going through something similar. So it’s not surprising that when the group members did reunite they created an album all about love. The title, XXXX, is Ninkovic’s code word for love and warm feelings of connectedness find their way into much of the lyrics.
The new disc is more focused and polished than other efforts, and while the infectious dance-punk has been toned down, it’s still a catchy head-bobbing affair. Now, with a new album, the grind starts again. However, don’t expect another near-brawl between the band.
“We know there’s a breaking point now,” says Ninkovic. “And I don’t think we’ll ever be yes people in quite the same way again.”