Interview with Said The Whale


Hi Tyler!  It’s such a pleasure to touch base with you about your band’s super-enjoyable new album Hawaiii, out on Hidden Pony Records.  What’re the vibes like right now for you and your bandmates?  Where are you in the midst of your East Coast, USA tour?

You’re catching me in Virginia Beach, VA. Good vibrations at the moment! We’re all excited about the new album release.

Sonically and structurally, the songs on Hawaiii are so tight, catchy, and polished – from power-pop standouts “I Love You” and “Mother”, which are perfectly geared for blasting from the car on a summer’s drive, to more reflective numbers like “Helpless Son” and “The Weight of the Season”.  Who composes the songs?

Ben and I each write songs on our own and bring them to the band in some degree of completion.  They evolve from there.

Your lyrics are deceptively deep and belie the fun-in-the-sun nature of some of your songs, like on “Helpless Son” with its lines “Are you proud of me?  Have I done enough?” and on “The Weight of the Season”, with the words “Darkness down pressing on me.”  Do you also split lyrics duty or is there another band member working on this?

There are two songwriters in the band, me and Ben, and we each have our own musical influences, but lyrics are something that’s super important to the both of us. When we started making music together eight years ago, our goal was to make music with great lyrics.

Do you and Ben each tackle a certain style of song or do you sometimes end up scuffling over who will sing lead on a track?

There’s never any discussion – whoever writes the songs, sings them. Our lyrics are so personal that it would feel VERY odd singing lead on a song that the other had written.

I’m hearing glimmers of bands like The Knack in the “My Sharona”-like kicky rhythms of “I Love You”, The Beach Boys with your sunny, but wistful vocal harmonies near the end of “Willow”, and Weezer vocally and stylistically on “On The Ropes”.  Am I detecting the correct signals or am I totally off the radar?

Beach Boys and Weezer for sure – I grew up on 50s and 60s pop mix tapes, so that’s a big part of my roots.  Weezer’s Blue Album and Pinkerton were a big part of my early teens.  I can’t say either of us were ever into The Knack, but we definitely know the song and have heard that comparison before.

The pumped-up buoyancy of tracks like “I Love You” and “Mother” are tempered by more subdued, unusual songs like the richly textured “Resolutions” with its spacey, dissipated vocals, galvanized guitar, and rapping at the end of the tune, and “Oh K, Okay”, with its trip-hop inflected beat and lighter, longing vocal touches.   How did those 2 songs come to fruition?

“Resolutions” was just me messing around with computer sounds and building a song around them. It was a really fun song to write though because I had no expectations for it to even become a song for the record.  “Oh K, Okay” was an acoustic song that Ben had, and he let me grab the reins and turn it into this kinda R&B jam.

Said The Whale - hawaiii

Said The Whale – hawaiii

Hawaiii is your 4th album and comes quick on the heels of 2012’s Little Mountain.  Why such a rush?

We have two songwriters so naturally our output can be a bit higher than bands with just one, but also our record cycle for Little Mountain wound down a bit quicker than expected. So we all of a sudden just felt the urge to follow it up.

At the 2011 Juno Awards you won New Group of the Year!  That must have been a euphoric experience for you all.  Besides the recognition and accolades, is any monetary compensation involved?  If so, did you spend it on new gear and/or vacations?

No way! The JUNOs don’t. It’s just about recognition.

Speaking of vacations, you’ve toured extensively and hit many a lovely location.  Did your travels have anything to do with naming your album Hawaiii?  Were you trying to pick a destination that is the opposite of your native Vancouver?

Hawaii isn’t really the opposite of Vancouver — we’re both on the ocean, we have beaches, etc…  But honestly, the title has nothing to do with the state of Hawaii, that’s why the ‘h’ is lower case and there’s an extra ‘i’.  We felt like the songs on the record were evocative, and hawaiii is an evocative word so that’s why we chose it.

It looks like you have loads of fun with the videos you create for your songs!  You’ve done one for “I Love You” where you parody SpikeTV’s MXC (Most Extreme Elimination Challenge), which itself was a parody of the Japanese TV show Takeshi’s Castle.  How crazy was the video shoot?  Did anyone actually get injured running through the challenge?

Jayce’s fall was pretty hard.  She got hurt a bit.  Other than that it was just really fun.  Most of us watched that show when it was on TV, so it was really awesome to get to do an homage to it.


I’ve had a good laugh watching your super-awesome-funny video for “The Whale, a take-off on the super-cheesy-ridiculous and mucho-buzzed-about “The Fox” video by Ylvis.  “The Whale” is the clear winner in my book.  Who came up with this zany idea and why were you watching “The Fox” in the 1st place, eh?!

Found it on the internet, and then we were at a friend’s house for dinner and he had a home studio.  We stayed up till 4am recording the song and making the video.  Just for fun!

At Tumblr you’re posting some wonderful snapshots while on tour.  Who’s the shutterbug?   

Most of the pics you’re probably referring to were taken by our friend Vanessa Heins who came on tour with us on that run.  Her site is

I just have to ask, since you posted a photo of yourself eating “the best chocolate ice cream of my life” at Earnest Ice Cream in Vancouver, are you partial to other flavors or brands of ice cream?  I’ve been on a quest each summer to find the “best” (and least expensive and easy to find) store-bought ice cream, and so far I’m sticking with Chocolate Therapy flavor by Ben & Jerry’s…

I love all ice cream, but am partial to the basics.  I think the best ice cream overall that I’ve ever had was a salted caramel ice cream from a place called Smitten in San Francisco.  If you’re ever in San Fran, you need to go there.

On the entertainment tip, what Canadian movies and/or TV shows are you into?   My fave Canadian movies are Last Night (directed by Don McKellar), the quietly and deeply disturbing Kissed (with Molly Parker), and Xavier Dolan’s Les Amours Imaginaires.  My fave Canadian TV show is Twitch City (with, ummm…, Don McKellar and Molly Parker).

Wow, I have never heard of any of those movies!  You win.

Lastly, can you please list your official site(s) to find out more about Said The Whale?