Interview: Caribou

On December 12th, Caribou finished their Europe and North American tour with a home town show at Lee's Palace.

It was clear early on that this trio has used the last few months of touring to elevate their live show to the next level. Never have I heard the organized chaos that is Dan Snaith's creative genius performed with such energy and cohesion.

The synchronized drumming of Dan Snaith and Peter Mitton assaulted the senses with its sheer power and mind-boggling endurance. Ryan Smith, who took centre stage sporting his cowboy inspired rock star look, dazzled the crowd with layer upon layer of distorted guitar bliss.

When Snaith wasn't banging away on his drums, he captivated the crowd with his mesmerising vocals and keyboard rifts. Add to the mix Ryan's toy-like wind-powered keyboard, plus Mitton's recorder and acoustic guitar, and you get the lullabies on acid sound that Caribou fans have come to know and love. A truly mesmerising performance that kept me dancing all night.

As a special holiday treat, blogTO brings you an exclusive interview with Dan Snaith after the jump. Enjoy!

I found your most recent show at Lee's Palace to be the tightest and most technical show yet from Caribou. Your live show has changed in other ways over time; gone are the masks and antics of earlier shows. What has been the motivation for this change?

The masks fell by the wayside as we were slowly sweating our faces off under the lights every night. It was becoming extremely unsanitary to put our faces into them every night. An invitation to finish the night by breaking out into a rash. That's not too say we don't still sweat to unhealthy levels these days. We do. I think the novelty of the masks also wore off after a while but most of the other antics still persist. This year has definitely been about developing our ability to play together as musicians. The early shows weren't really about that so much... to put it nicely! This year we've had so many opportunities to play together the show has necessarily developed in the direction of increased proficiency and altering the songs to suit a more coordinated barrage.

You have used video shows to enhance your live performance since early in your career. A nice touch in your most recent show was the synchronized video-to-performance hand clapping. What can people expect from your recently release DVD and future video shows?

The DVD is a collection of the 16 videos that Irish animators Delicious 9 have done of the songs which we play during our live show. People who have seen the live show will be familiar with the videos - they are by and large the same ones that have been used in our show but have been cut to the studio versions of the tracks. To be honest I'm toying with lots of different ideas for the video part of our shows in the future. I want everything to tend towards a show in which the musicians, video, everything onstage... is more coordinated.

Let's take it for granted that by now everyone has heard of your name change and legal troubles with some ugly American dick that needs not be named here. Not that any artist would want to go through what you've been through, but looking back, has it been a positive for your career?

It's hard to say and not something I spend much time thinking of. It's definitely true that this album has been the highest profile so far and that people have had no problem making the connection between the two names. I suspect that things would have been similar with or without the name change. I'm sure it's inevitable that the whole business got me in the press a bit more than I would have been otherwise. The whole business is not something I think about very often but I would gladly have traded in any added publicity I got in order to not have to spend so much time dealing with Dick.

Caribou will be going back into the studio in '06 to record a new album. People who have been listening to your work since the Manitoba days know that your vast array of music influences has resulted in unique and dynamic albums that don't easily fit into any predefined genre. What direction and influences can we expect this upcoming album to take?

I really honestly don't know. I'm pretty sure I want to change direction somewhat again - which is generally just to keep me excited about what I'm doing - but i never have any preconceptions about how the music is going to sound... I just start recording and see what happens. Most of the reason I make music is for the challenge of coming up with a sound that I find exciting or new and so I just kind of follow my nose until I stumble across something that fits the bill. A lot of the excitement is that I have just as little as you at this point what my next album's going to sound like!

Lastly, if you could thank any one person for your success, excluding your mother, father, sister, God, Jesus, Buddha, yourself, the doctor who delivered you, Disneyland, blogTO and me, who would it be and why?

You've ruled out a lot of popular options. there are lots of people who deserve a lot of thanks - Kieran Hebden who helped get my music released in the first place and who has been a never ending source of help and advice, Tony Morley at Leaf who poured endless effort into releasing the music, my girlfriend who puts up with me recording guitar solos in the middle of the night in our apartment. It's not fair to single anyone out. It's funny that you mention Disneyland though - we played in Disneyland with the Super Furry Animals a week before our show at Lee's. They made us clear Disneyland Security which involved lining up like criminals with our passports and wouldn't even let us on the rides for free. I definitely wouldn't be thanking them!

Photo courtesy of Jordana Rotenberg

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