Tell Me About That Album: Little Mountain by Said the Whale

Creating a hook-heavy sound from a variety of indie rock influences, Vancouver, Canada's Said the Whale are hitting the road this month in support of their third full length, Little Mountain, which is out March 6th. The band won the Juno for Best New Group last year, and this year the band is hoping to make a major dent on this side of the border. We caught up with the band's drummer, Spencer Schoening, to learn more about the album, his favorite Seattle hip-hop and his best drummer jokes. Said the Whale play the Q Café in Seattle on March 2nd.

Congratulations on winning the Juno Award for New Group of the Year. For us dumb Americans, are the Junos a big deal? I've heard people call it the Canadian Grammys. It's as big of a deal as you can get here, so obviously I'm floored. To be nominated was insane. I was sitting through the whole ceremony convinced that we weren't going to win and that we would lose to some shitty commercial act, but we got it.

Is there a similar myth to winning that award like there is to winning the Best New Artist Grammy, which people often joke is the kiss of death? Milli Vanilli won it you know. Some of our friends, The Arkells won the year before us. And a few years ago, Alexisonfire won the award and they just broke up, so fuck, who knows? I'm going to have to do some research now to see what other bands won the award.

You'll be making videos for each of Little Mountain's 15 tracks? Where did that idea come from and isn't that expensive? It is expensive. The biggest reason was that if I was going to go online to look up a song that I wanted to hear I'd go to YouTube, so rather than having, say, an image of the album cover with it, now we have a video for every song. It's not so much that these videos are the focal point, but they will at least give people something more interesting to look at that a stupid little album cover.

Where did the album title come from? Little Mountain is the name of the neighborhood that we all grew up in Vancouver. It's also a name that is kind of everywhere. There are Little Mountains all over the place. We were inspired to pick something along that line because after we released our EP, New Brighton, people always asked, "Is that about this New Brighton," and we realized it was such a universal thing. Its more than just homage to where we grew up, it's hopefully something universal that somebody across the world can hear and get a feeling of familiarity.

Were there specific records you were listening to a lot while making Little Mountain? I was listening to a lot of Shabazz Palaces' Black Up, which had just come out when we were recording.

Did you find that that influenced your playing in any way? No. I was actually just having a conversation about this very thing the other day. What I find is that when I'm recording I like to listen to things that are completely different from the style that I'm actually working with. To listen to something like At the Drive-In on the way to the studio, I'm not necessarily going to play like that, I'm just getting myself hyped up on cool music.

Got a favorite drummer joke? What do you call a drummer without a girlfriend?


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