Said The Whale have earned their place in the Canadian music pantheon. They’ve won a JUNO Award, topped the alternative radio chart, and amassed a devoted base of fans who affectionately describe themselves as “SaidHeads” — all the while maintaining their resolute independent spirit. Now, more than a decade into their career, the Vancouver group are opening their most ambitious chapter yet.
Throughout 2020, lockdowns meant that the band members were at home, away from the relentless touring cycle that had defined most of their 14-year career. Singer-songwriters Tyler Bancroft and Ben Worcester, plus keyboardist Jaycelyn Brown and bassist Lincoln Hotchen, threw themselves fully into working on new material with producer Steve Bays (Hot Hot Heat) at his Tugboat Place Studio, resulting in the most towering, maximalist music of their careers.
“Steve is an incredibly detail-oriented producer,” says Tyler. “We would work until four or five in the morning. Then sleep at his house and work the next day until late into the night. It was exhausting, but each song came to life in such an amazing way with so many layers.”
Stately piano, roaring guitar distortion, giant-sized synths and orchestral flourishes — every moment blooms with bright, vivid sounds and subtle details. But in spite of the grandiose arrangements and go-for-broke production quality, the new songs are, at their core, classic Said The Whale. Lead single “Honey Lungs” is a bright and bubbly anthem, its crunchy rock swagger shot through with frenzied drum fills and sugar-spiked pop singalongs.
Co-written jointly in the studio by Tyler and Ben, the song’s lyrics address today’s fraught political climate while placing an emphasis on empathy. They wrote it around the same time they dropped off of a festival bill as an act of solidarity with anti-racist groups. “It’s about using kindness as a way to approach difficult subjects,” says Tyler. “As we’re fighting for change, let’s come from a place of trying to understand our fellow human beings.” As the song grapples with violence and social unrest, it culminates in soaring harmonies and a message of hope: “You can find the joy in every agonizing moment of existence on this planet.”
“Honey Lungs” will be out on March 19, with more self-released singles to follow. Six albums into their career (with a seventh on the way), Said The Whale are now fully independent and refusing to bask in success. They’re swinging for the fences and holding nothing back in their relentless pursuit of pop-rock perfection.
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