Kevin Drew of Broken Social Scene

Broken Social Scene Interview

In July 2006 we were lucky enough to score tickets to the Broken Social Scene + Belle and Sebastian concert in Columbia, Maryland. Being huge fans of both bands, we decided to go despite the long drive from Pittsburgh. As fate would have it, Broken Social Scene agreed to do an interview with us for the ModLife blog. Here’s the interview, in it’s entirety. Funny, thought-provoking, and sometimes downright silly; we talked for over an hour and had an incredible time. Many thanks to Kevin Drew, lead singer and founder of Broken Social Scene, and Matthew Kopel, our dear friend, former marketing director, and the main narrative voice of this interview. Enjoy!

After our four hour car ride to Columbia, Eric Susan and Myself stopped first at our hotel room to drop off our things, orient ourselves, and enjoy the extremely high air conditioner setting before heading out towards the Merriweather Post Pavilion.

Once there, directed by Brendan (last name) Broken Social Scene’s tour manager to the side stage area, we sat and waited for what was to come next. The side stage itself was extremely pleasant: Hammocks and umbrellaed picnic tables with surprisingly comfortable chairs littered the lot, along side massage booths set up by the venue for anyone in any of the bands who wanted a pre-show relaxation session.

Brendan came down and told us that the sound check was running a bit off schedule, but to hang tight, because Kevin Drew, front-man and co-founder of Broken Social Scene, had decided to do all of the interviews through the week. We sat and waited eagerly for Broken to finish their sound check, and then saw Kevin walk down towards us, toweling of his hair with one hand, holding a bottle of Bud in the other.

At first, though, he was a bit skeptical. “So who are you guys?” He took our card and went back inside for a moment. I was a bit nervous, as in my experience, the interviewee leaving is not the best sign. But when he came back, he seemed to be a bit more comfortable, but we had to sell ourselves a bit more before the deal was cinched. When he asked me what the point of ModCloth was, I gave him the straight deal.

M: I think it’s more of, these are things that we enjoy, clothing that we enjoy. There are people who can’t find suitable things (to wear.) Abercrombie and that audience, or that venue for clothing, it doesn’t necessarily appeal to everyone, not by a long shot. So, it’s an alternate source.

K: You buy it online?

M: Yes, it’s all online. We run it out of our house.

S: We’ve been in business for about four and a half years.

K: Really?

S: Yeah. I started it, actually, living in my parent’s house, way back when I graduated high school.

K: Which was not too long ago, how long ago?

S: Four and a half years ago.

M: We all just finished school.

K: College, university? Great.

S: Now we’re working full time, trying to make an impact.

K: So this is like a blog.

M: Yeah, it’s like a blog, where we’ve trying to develop a culture space for the customers.

K: And you’re Broken Social Scene fans?

M: Oh, yes. Huge fans!

Kevin, I began to observe, is a bit wily, as well as reserved. He stared me down a bit in this moment, as well as a few others, before moving forward with our conversation.

K: I saw your Superman review.

M: What’d you think? Have you seen it? Agree, disagree?

K: Let’s open up the review talking about Superman. And then I’m going to interview you guys, okay?

And so, the boundaries were set, and Kevin showed his cards. He was going to have fun with this. Frankly, that is exactly what I wanted. To chat, smoke cigarettes, and have fun.

M: That’s fair.

K: That’s the only way I’ll agree to do this.

S: No problem.

M: We’re privileged to have the opportunity.

K: No, you’re not privileged. It’s cool, you know. But you’ve got to convince me to do this interview. I know it sounds arrogant, but it’s a good spin, isn’t it?

M: Yeah, absolutely.

K: Or are you going to do one of those interviews where you just print everything that is said, do you do one of those interviews?

M: I did with Rainer Maria, that’s what I did-

K: I saw that.

M: And I interviewed, about a week and a half ago, Calexico. I talked to Joey (Burns) and he was just amazing. We just walked up and down the street, went into a guitar shop, chatted, talked about the immigration issue, things like that.

K: Maybe we shouldn’t tackle Superman, then. Maybe I won’t look so bright.

M: No, no, it’s totally cool-

K: I don’t want to talk about Superman, you got that?

(Laughter)

M: We got it, no Superman.

Kevin picks up Eric’s business card and looks at it.

K: This is you?

K: (Motioning to Eric) This is you. (Motioning to Matthew) And you’re Matthew, and (Motioning to Susan) this is Susan. And you started this.

S: Yes.

K: With another girl.

S: Mmm Hmm.

K: What’s her name? How do you pronounce it?

S: Khadija. (For those playing at home: Ka-Dee-Jah)

K: Kaneecha.

S: Khadija.

K: Khadija. (To Eric) And how’d you get involved, young man?

E: I wasn’t her boyfriend at the time, but-

K: (Whistles) Just a friend.

E: Yeah.

K: And what happened then? This is really good stuff. I want to talk about this. So you were friends.

S: Yup..

E: We used to skip school and go thrift store shopping together.

K: So you were always into fashion.

E: I was into Susan.

S: And I was into fashion, he was into me, so he was into fashion.

E: And at the time, I had started up an internet consulting business in high school.

K: Really?

E: Yeah.

K: Are you a millionaire?

E: Will be soon.

(Laughter)

K: Very much so?

(Laughter)

E: I actually have a year left on my MBA.

K: Where do you go to school?

E: Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.

K: It’s a good school.

E: (In my business in high school) We had, like, a hundred servers, and I was like, “Susan, let’s just start up a website for you, and we can start selling all of this awesome stuff that you keep finding online.” She would buy stuff that didn’t fit her, but it was so awesome that she would just squeeze into it or get it tailored.

K: I did that the other day. I just had to have the t-shirt. It was this shirt with this little dust-ball giving the finger and saying, “Hey Iran.” And I just though, “What the fuck is this?”

S: I actually found a vintage pin of Mickey Mouse saying “Hey Iran,” giving Iran the finger.

K: What was that, was that something that happened in the eighties?

S: Yeah.

M: Might have to do with Iran-Contra.

K: Yeah, Iran-Contra, that’s what I thought. But I thought, “Well, I can’t fit into this shirt, but I know my kid can.”

S: That’s the thing with vintage clothing, it all comes back in style. “Hey Iran,” you know.

M: I can’t decide if that specifically has come back in style, but-

S: Yeah.

K: America will make everything repeat seven times over, I’m sure.

M: I beg your pardon?

K: America will make everything repeat seven times over, thus…Superman, Returns. Does America need a hero? That’s what we’re asking.

M: Is that what we’re asking?

K: That’s what you’re asking. Didn’t you ask me that?

M: Maybe. Maybe, like, psychically, subconsciously.

At that moment, drummer Justin Peroff strolls by the table, checking out the scene before his massage.

K: Does America need a hero, Justin? We’re talking about Superman.

J: I was just going to say, did you see Superman yet? I think everybody needs to see “An Inconvenient Truth.”

K: That’s what everybody needs to see, apparently. I haven’t seen it, have you seen it?

M: I haven’t seen it yet.

J: Al Gore should be the hero.

K: How come we haven’t seen that, but we’ve seen Superman.

S: I haven’t seen Superman, yet.

M: I grew up reading comic books.

K: I grew up on comic books. My brother grew up on comic books. He was really into the New Mutants.

M: Oh yeah.

K: And he was into Teenage…ninja…mutant (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)…But he was into them when they were in black and white.

M: Yeah, when they’re sitting around drinking beer.

K: Yeah, yeah, yeah, those were good.

M: Those were great comics. They’re starting to do that again. Because they got the rights back, so there have been more of those.

K: I’ve got two hundred Daredevils. I’ve got serious original Daredevils, cause he was my guy. But I thought, you know, maybe the film would be good. And then I heard the cast, and I thought, “I’m screwed, I’m screwed.” I was ready to cash in on the Daredevil. What the hell happened there? They got the Simon Birch director to make Daredevil?

M: Ben Affleck.

K: Ben Affleck? As Daredevil? Did that cut it? At least Superman was Superman. Why did they cast Ben Affleck as Daredevil?

M: Kevin Smith got him the role.

K: Kevin Smith, ey?

M: The director who was casting it…Because Kevin Smith had written some Daredevil comics-

K: He did?

M: Yeah, he wrote two runs, really good ones.

K: I’m sure, he’s really into that.

M: Yeah, and the director was like, “Hey Kevin, I’m doing Daredevil, you have anybody in mind for the part?” and (Kevin Smith) said, “Use Ben Affleck, because I love Ben Affleck, and he’s my best friend.” And it was done.

K: What about Casey Affleck? That would’ve been better.

M: That would’ve been sick.

K: Casey Affleck as fucking Daredevil, that would’ve been fucking wicked.

M: Yeah.

K: Who else could’ve been Daredevil? Think, hard here guys, put your minds together for me.

Justin Peroff walks buy again, handing us each a piece of Hershey’s dark chocolate, and Kevin turns to him for casting advice.

K: Who could’ve been Daredevil rather than Ben Affleck?

J: Umm…

K: This is Susan, Eric and Matthew.

J: How’s it going. Umm, Matthew Broderick.

K: Matthew Broderick as Daredevil. Dude, he was singing in The Producers at the time.

M: Matthew Broderick as Daredevil, like fifteen years ago.

K: If Neil Simon wrote Daredevil, maybe he would’ve done it. Nathan Lane as Kingpin.

(Laughter)

J: That would’ve been good.

M: That would’ve been insane. With this crazy, flamboyant Kingpin.

K: I gotta say, I really lost out on Daredevil.

M: Yeah, but the books themselves, the market is still there.

K: They’re great. Daredevil was my favorite comic, man.

M: He was amazing-

K: He was blind-

M: He was very much like Batman, just a self-made hero.

K: What did you guys think of Batman Begins?

E: Very good.

M: Did you enjoy it?

K: I didn’t like it at first, and then I ended up seeing it eight times on an airplane.

M: Did it kick in?

K: It really kicked in for me.

M: It’s that last scene with Gordon, handing him the card with The Joker-

K: Yeah.

M: And that was it.

K: I really liked Gary Oldman in that film, I gotta tell you.

Justin walks by again after a bit of brainstorming with an idea for the Daredevil lead.

J: James Franco.

K: James Franco, but he’s in the Spiderman films.

M: It’s true.

K: And I saw the Spiderman preview.

M: The trailer for the third one?

K: The trailer for the third one.

M: Getting the symbiote in there (For non-comic folk, this is the alien being that gave Spiderman his black suit, and eventually became the villain Venom)

K: Now look, you get Sam Rami to do a Daredevil film, okay. How the fuck do we get the Simon Birch guy? I don’t know, I mean, I don’t know this gentleman, at all, but I think that getting Evanescence to do the lead was not a good move. Am I right? Do you agree with me here?

M: They probably got a script and started shooting and said, “Oh god, this is going to be horrible, we’ve gotta just make it a “pop culture” thing that nobody-

K: What happened with, fucking, the coolest girl in comics, too?

M: Jennifer Connelly.

K: Elektra, who directed that one?

M: I didn’t even bother to see it.

K: I didn’t see it. Who the fuck-

At this time, someone comes out to let Kevin know that he is next in line for a message before the show. Brendan Canning, who is nearby, gets a little lucky.

P: You’re massage is up next.

K: You’ve got to go to Brendan. I’m good. I’m having a good time.

M: I appreciate that.

K: Elektra, I didn’t even see it.

M: I didn’t even bother to see it. The character was amazing.

K: She was fucking incredible.

M: And they killed her off.

K: What a woman. And that was good for girls, man. Elektra. She kicked butt. She came in and killed a lot of guys, she killed a lot of white guys.

M: Well, you look back at women in comics, Wonder Woman, the original Wonder Woman?

K: Fantastic.

M: It was amazing. I ended up writing a paper on it, actually.

K: Really?

M: Yeah, on the classic, golden age wonder woman comics, because the guy who wrote it was this crazy sexual deviant.

K: Of course he was.

M: If you look in every page of every issue that he wrote, there were pictures of her tied up. There were always pictures of her tied up. And if you look back at family photos, there’s him, his wife, their kids, and then this other woman. Who’s she? His mistress, who happened to have shoulder-length black hair, and cuffs on her wrists.

The conversation didn’t seem to be ending. There was so much that he wanted to talk about. I suppose that he might’ve just been kind, but it seemed more likely, as the temperature was cooling just a little bit, and the bustling around us began to pick up, that he actually was having a good time. I realized that too often we forget that interaction is the meat and potatoes of human existence.

K: Let’s skip ahead, did you read that, I forget who wrote it, fantastic book, The Adventures of, um-

M: Kavelier and Clay by Michael Chabon, Pittsburgh native.

K: Really? Now that was a fantastic book. I thought, well maybe…I read about two to three books a year. And I started on a reading kick, recently. Started with A Million Little Pieces.

M: Okay, what’d you think of it?

K: I loved it, man. I couldn’t put it down. I was like, “I just want to finish this.” And then I read his next one, because I was like, “Okay, let’s read his next one, let’s read My Best Friend, Leonard.” So I read the next one he wrote. And then that whole conspiracy came out, poor guy. I mean, so what-

M: Sold a lot more books because of it.

K: Did it?

M: Oh my god, yeah.

K: Because of the controversy?

M: Big time.

K: Even though Oprah came in-

M: Everyone wanted to see what everyone was talking about.

K: Is it not a true statement that he first went to them as a fiction. He was trying to sell it as a fiction. And it didn’t sell, so he switched it to autobiographical, and people picked up on it. And it’s a great fiction book. I didn’t care that it was a truth or not truth, it was a good read. I felt for the character. I don’t know how I felt when I thought it was a true story. When I thought it was a true story, I was like, “Oh my god, how did this guy go through it?” And then when I thought it was a fiction story, I thought, “Oh my god, how did this character go through that?” I think people have not taken…Can we not identify with root canals with no anesthetic? Is it so much more powerful because we thought it was a true story? Or because Oprah thought it was a true story, and told America, “Here’s the strength.” What’s up?

The girl who ran the private merch table in the back of the pavilion stopped over to ask if Kevin could watch the boxes for a few minutes.

K: Yeah, that’s fine. Yeah, no one’s going to do anything. It’s Grateful Dead territory.

M: I think it’s a matter of…Maybe it’s a matter of America’s obsession with the reality.

K: It’s because of the holes that exist. Exactly Matthew, it’s because the whole fucking…Everything is a reality television show now. So they want everything to be real, because we enjoy it so much more.

M: Right.

K: People love other people’s pain. America’s Funniest Home Videos. Or, those brutal shows on Spike Network that are just like, “Watch people break their neck!” That’s all it’s based on.

M: It’s America’s obsession with voyeurism and vicarious living.

K: I had to tune out, when I saw these people, they were trying to do a human chain off of the San Francisco Bridge. Something where they were going to fly down together, locked and loaded, and it was supposed to be this big deal, this human chain. And I watched the whole thing. I was like, “You guys are insane, I want to watch this.” It was a man and his wife, they did a lot of crazy things. They put it all together, and last minute-

I checked the recorder, hoping that it was still going throughout all of this. It was.

K: Are we recording it? This is gold.

M: I was just making sure.

K: Last minute, one of the guys pulled out of this human chain. They were going to connect themselves all to a bungee, and bungee jump together. Off of this huge bridge. Massive. One of the guys pulled out, so this nineteen year old kid decides he’s going to step in and do it. And they interviewed the kid, and he was like, “I’m really into it. I’m into it, I’m a little nervous, but let’s do this.” So then they cut to them, “Really quickly, okay, we’re on the bridge, let’s do it, let’s do it, let’s do it.” And you’ve already gotten to know them in the first three minutes, they really prep it up, really well. Then they do it, and it snaps! And they crash into the ocean. The next scene, I think they were married, the husband over his wife, in the water, pounding on her chest, going, “No! No!” And this kid is lying there with his eyes wide open. Obviously, he broke his neck. One guy broke his leg, and the woman, I think, was paralyzed, or something. And they showed the whole thing. And then they cut to a commercial. And then there was a commercial for something irrelevant, I don’t know. I just thought, I can’t believe I just…It disturbed me for a week, because I saw these people dying in the water. And it was like, “Most Craziest Stunts!” I couldn’t do that. I couldn’t fucking watch (skateboarding videos) when I was a kid, where the kids would be railing on the skateboards, and then they would wipe out, it would make me queasy. These shows are dominating. Dominating. If it’s not a reality TV show, come on folks, people aren’t watching.

K: (Hulk) Hogan’s got his own show. It’s quite good. I like Hogan as a father. Have you watched that at all?

M: I have not, but I’ve heard about it.

K: I like his family, man. I really do. I watched it, Hogan as a Dad, he’s a good man, trying to raise his kids, and be cool and calm. His kids love him, his wife loves him. They’ve been married for years, it’s a beautiful little love story. You know, I got back into Hulkamania after I saw that. I’m not gonna lie.

M: That whole thing, it’s almost too real, it’s too good to be true. Because you can imagine the fights between father and son-

K: He tracked his daughter on a date using GPS. He and his son went online, and they tracked the car, where it was going with this guy. I couldn’t change the chann;e. I had a Hulk Hogan doll when I was a kid. I got it in grade four. Big John Stud and Hulk Hogan, I got it for Christmas. And I knew I got it, because I sneaked a peak in my parents closet. It was like, “I need to know. Did I get Hogan?” And I still remember when King Kong Bundy came out. I was in grade three, and I was coming home from school, and I did a whole “Calvin and Hobbes,” like how Calvin always wants to get a blowtorch kind of thing, and I had a whole plan to beg my mother to take me to Toys R Us to get King Kong Bundy. She didn’t go for it. It was seven dollars. And I didn’t have seven bucks, seven bucks was a lot of money back then.

M: It was a fortune.

K: So, I had to wait. Actually, I was one of those kids, I befriended a kid who I knew had the ring and the cage and all of that. I uded him, man. I used him. My brother called me on it. He said, “You’re using this kid for…You’re using this kid because he’s got all of the wrestling.” And I was like, “No I’m not, how dare you say that?” And then I’d be over there, and we’d plan our big battle royal. You knoiw? And then a lot of guys started coming out. Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka, Mr. Wonderful…The Iron Sheik, Iron Sheik was the third wrestler I got. I had Big John Stud, Iron Sheik and Hulk Hogan. So I couldn’t have a tag-team. I had three. I kept trying to explain to my mom, “I need to have a tag team.” But she was like-

M: Not going for it.

K: But I could get King Kong Bundy, because he was bad! I had two bad guys and one good guy. So I think I got Macho Man Randy Savage, but he switched when I got him, he went bad. He was good again, and then he went bad. Then I had three bad guys and Hogan. I tried to fuckin’ win that one over but it didn’t work either. I said, “Mom, he just switched!” (She was) Not into it. So, I can’t remember who I had in the end, I had a bunch of them.

M: And they’re producing them again.

K: Jake the Snake.

M: Jake the Snake Roberts.

K: Yeah, but they’re different. They’re not the big huge plastic molds that can move around and stuff. Those big plastic molds, it was like nothing I had ever saw before. I was a G.I. Joe kid. No, my brother was G.I. Joe and I was He-Man. You know what I mean.

M: Yeah. I just got into all the Batman figures and the Superman figures.

K: Well, how old are you?

M: Twenty-three.

K: Well, I was Hall of Justice. (Referring to the “Hall of Justice” playset put out by the now defunct Kenner toy company with the “Super Powers” line of DC Comics action figures.)

M: Yeah, I had the Hall of Justice. The big yellow playset.

K: Yeah, I had the Hall of Justice. And I had (Castle) Grayskull, and Snake Mountain. Snake Mountain was my first microphone, because it came with a microphone, so you could move the jaws and be like, (In a dark raspy voice) “Snake Mountain!”

S: These toys sound so much cooler than what I had as a kid. I had Cabbage Patch dolls.

K: I had a Cabbage Patch kid.

S: I had a lot, though. That was all I did. I played tag team…dolls.

K: If you didn’t have a Cabbage Patch in grade two, if you didn’t have a Cabbage Patch, you were in trouble. It wasn’t something you could share. And you knew that at an early age. You were like, “I guess you don’t share kids.” It’s like, no, you don’t share kids, you have to have your own kid. This was no egg thing, the egg thing came later.

K: You know, where you have to look out for the eggs, did you ever have to do that?

E: Yeah, I remember that.

K: That was classic.

S: I never did that for some reason!

K: They give you an egg, they give you a partner, and you have to look out for this egg together, and if this egg breaks…Mine broke, three days in. You try replace it, you know what I mean, but then you discover quilt at a very young age, because you replaced the egg. And there’s this feeling in you, when they keep talking about parenting and stuff, that you know you smashed…you’re kid is dead. And you let them try to replace your kid. And you can’t do that in real life, people.

M: Is that a lesson that needs to be learned at six? Or eight?

K: I don’t know, I went to Catholic school, I was a little twisted when I was young. I got out of there. Thank god my parents were like, “You know what? This is a little weird. You’re out.”

M: Yeah, not the best idea.

K: Grade five, they busted me out of Catholic school, and they put me into private!
(Whistles) I couldn’t really tell the difference. And then I went into public in high school, thank god, so I could learn about realities of boy-girl. I went to a private school that had two girls. Two fucking girls in my grade. How are you supposed to…what are you supposed to do with that? How are you supposed to play spin the bottle? How are you, you know, supposed to dance to “I Want Somebody” by Depeche Mode, when there’s two girls? Somebody would kick in, and you were like, “There’s two girls.”

M: Was it a big school?

K: No, it was a small, small school. I don’t want to mention it, because I don’t want to give it any props, because quite frankly, it was a fucking bullshit school, it was a racket. At the time, it was a big racket. And thankfully, my father and I figured that out, it was a very bonding moment, actually. In grade eight, my dad and I both figured out that the school was a fucking racket. And then my mom felt bad, so she put me in an art school. Thus, here we are. So, mom gets big props for me doing this interview. I don’t think I would have done it if she hadn’t said, “You know what, you need to go to art school, kid.”

M: Were they catering towards all of that?

K: Who?

M: Your parents.

K: Catering to drugs and narcissism?
(Laughter)
K: No they weren’t. In fact, I think they regretted it, until around five, six years ago, and went, “Okay, wait, wait, wait. We did something right, actually!” Drugs and narcissism. That’s all art school is.

M: I started at Antioch College, I don’t know if you know it, it’s really small, like three hundred and fifty students, radical left wing,.

K: Yeah, yeah.

M: My parents claim that the two years I spent there, I was earning a degree in pharmacology.

K: Wow.

M: But those types of experiences, when you’re in a creative venue, and there are these weird stmuli, and you’re building your ego in this strange way. Not the “ego,” but the more Freudian identity. That type of experience, being in a completely, in ways, unhealthy environment, makes you a more healthy, balanced person. I don’t know.

S: I think it depends on the person.

K: It does. I don’t know what it’s like to be, you know…I don’t know the teenage culture anymore. I truly don’t. I think that…I mean, when I was a kid, porn growing up was something that you could discover, fucking, babysitting in people’s closets. Snooping around, and be like, “What the…Ginger Lynn? What the hell is this?” Like nowadays, it’s like-

M: Click.

K: It’s just everywhere. These kids have got to have sex by fourteen, or they’re fucking not cool, you know?

M: The media is obviously a major source of this change in what we consider upbringing to be.

K: Yeah. And hip hop too, man. That took a real, fucking, sexual dive in the last ten years. I mean, give me a Pharcyde, Tribe Called Quest, ficking, De La Sol. Those were incredible time to get into hip hop. Even the early…You know, Rick Rubin was responsible for getting every suburban kid into hip hop, and it was like, “What the hell is this?” Producing the Public Enemy, Beastie Boys, giving us “Walk This Way” and all this shit. I remember buying the “Walk This Way” seven-inch. And “Who’s That Girl?” in one purchase! Can you believ that? Remember that film? “Who’s That Girl?” with Madonna?

M: That’s Crazy.

(Kevin sings a few belts from “Who’s that Girl”)

K: I bought “Who’s That Girl” “Walk This Way” and I think, maybe, and I’m reaching here, “I’m Only Human” by Human League. Remember that?

Kevin snaps his fingers and sings a few lines from “I’m Only Human”

K: There was a lot of pressure on us. I wonder what the pressure is these days. There must be way more.

M: If you don’t mind me asking, how old are you?

K: I’m turning thirty, so, I’m in my reflective days right now, I guess. It’s really kicking in now, I’ve got a month and a half left, basically. I always said, “Never trust anybody over thirty.” So, I’m trying to speak to the kids as much as I can before I’m thirty, because I can’t be a hippocrate. I’ve got to stand by that. I got to be like, “Well, I can say all this to you, but I’m thirty now.” It’s different. I’m out of touch. I don’t know. Our whole thing, what was big for us was HIV, that came in strong. It was like, “Okay, this is huge. You can’t do this, you can’t do that, or you’ll die!” That was basically what they taught us. “Have sex without a condom, and you’ll get pregnant and you’ll die.” There’s so much more now. It’s hilarious that the kids, the teenagers are dealing with the same wars that I was dealing with when I was a fucking teenager. You know? We had the Gulf War when I was fourteen, fifteen years old. It didn’t last as long.

E: Everything’s going to the extremes. The war, the pron, the hip hop. Everything that we’re talking about.

K: Yeah. It is going to the extremes. And, America’s repeating itself. Superman Batman, fucking “You Me & Dupree,” like, what the fuck is this shit? Some football film, that’s been done seventeen times.

M: Nothing original is there anymore.

K: There’s nothing original. Well, it’s because everything’s been done, but no one wants to do it for the art of doing it, now. They want to do it for the art of repeating, so that people go, “Oh, I’m supposed to go and do this because I’ve seen this. Here’s this remake, here’s that remake, here’s this remake, here’s that remake, here’s this song, here’s that song.” Kudos to those kids that are trying to break out of the stagnant music that’s happening in the mainstream, but it’s been incredible how long the (inaudible) have run the music scene. I though the Eddie Vedder “anyone can sing” thing, I didn’t think it would go on for this long. And now you got, you just got everyone yelling. Now the bands are like,

(For this, picture Kevin gripping an invisible microphone, doing his best high-pitched, faux-metal voice)

K: “I wanna kill you, but you were so sweet, but I really gotta kill you!” Every fucking band seems to be doing it.

E: But there are a couple that are pretty good.

K: Yes, I don’t want to knock the bands that have adapted that well, because it is a sound. But I still need to listen to radio, because I have to, it’s part of that human world. Your eyes and your ears are going to constantly be consumed by what’s in front of you.

M: But at the same time, it as though there are…technology is a blessing and a curse right now, because while it’s is putting out all this crap right now, it’s also delivering a whole different spectrum. You have different options, to go online and listen to WOXY out of Oxford, Ohio, or KEXP out of Seattle.

K: Yeah, the internet’s kind of killed college radio.

M: It has killed college radio.

K: It just doesn’t exist anymore. You know, we had a station in Canada called “Brave New Wave.” It was a bible for so many people. It’s gone now, I don’t know what the fuck’s going on. I just heard this the other day, and I was shocked. But, this is where I was able to hear “Rhythm’s Resolutions and Clusters” by Tortoise…the first time I’d ever listened to Tortoise, which then led me to seventy-two other bands, which led me to a local indie record store, which led me to, fucking, an indie rock community, which led us passing records around. But now it’s online, and let’s be honest, if your iPod can hold seven thousand fucking songs, how the hell are you going to know what you’re listening to half the time? How are you even going to remember what you have if you can’t, you know, visually see it in front of you? Or do that little act of taking a fucking record out, and putting it on a turntable.

M: When I was talking to Joey (Burns) from Calexico, it’s that experience where you put the album in, you sit down in your listening chair, and you read the book while the first song is coming on.

K: You look at the art! But then the jewel case killed that! Too many artists, they just went as cheap as they could. I love the new Sonic Youth record. I love it. But why would anyone buy it? A fucking two-page thing, open it up, it’s in a plastic case, you read it. It’s like showing your age, man. You want kids to buy your album, there’s got to be something there. And even then, you’re still fighting an uphill battle.

M: You’ve got to get them to deal with the actual, physical item.

K: And that’s a great record, I don’t know if you guys have heard it-

M: I haven’t picked it up yet.

K: It’s just fantastic.

M: We were just, actually, talking about Sonic Youth earlier, with your song “K.C. Accidental.” I remember the first time I heard that song, I was like, “Is this new Sonic Youth?”
(Kevin Laughs)

M: Comparisons can be tricky, so…

K: No, that’s great.

M: I think it was that those opening riffs, it had an electricity-

At that point, the giant wasp that had been flying around our table disappeared, much to our dismay, as it’s better when you can see your enemies…you know where they’ll be striking from. The break served as an opportunity for Eric to return to an earlier subject.

E: The college radio station may make a comeback, though. From the business side of it, the cost of bandwidth is going down, very quickly, so that anyone could start an internet radio station.

K: Yeah. Well, they’re out there. Satellite radio now, that’s become the next great thing.

After reaching the end of his beer, Kevin picks up his phone and dials.

K: I’m just going to call in another drink, here.

A phone rings behind us, and Kevin looks up, recognizing the ring as that of the tour manager, Brendan Lynch.

K: Lynch, are you getting a massage?

Lynch: Yup.

We all share a good laugh at this unfortuanate timing, and Kevin begins looking around for someone to grab him another bottle. Smiling, he shakes his head a bit

K: That fuckin’ guy.

We later found out that Lynch was not just some guy who happened to be tour manager for BSS, but had gone to school with, or grown up with in some capacity, several members of the band. This was distinctly a family operation. Extended and intimate, all at once. He hollers off to a friend, asking if they’re heading into the sidestage area, requesting a beer.

K: Please? I’ll rub your feet later. I’ll rub your feet. Foot massage!

We light fresh cigarettes, and get back to business.

M: I do have to ask one…who’s in the lineup tonight? Your lineup’s always so big and changing.

K: Stars, Evan and Amy are with us. Charles, from Do Make (Say Think) is with us. And then there’s the band. We’ve got Julie Penner on violin, and then the rest of the band. We’ve got John Crossingham.

There is a pause, and I’m wondering where the conversation will take us next. We’d already exceded the thirty minute mark, and anything else that occurred was bonus, but I didn’t want it to end. He had a beer on the way, and was looking over at me in such a way that did not seem to say “I’m done here” but rather “Okay, I’m listening.” I almost threw it, I think, but ended up rebounding.

M: I’m kind of sneaking in some of the questions I had thought of.

K: We’re not doing an interview.

Susan laughs, which saves the day. Kevin smiles dryly behind his beard.

M: What’s that?

K: We’re not doing an interview, I thought we were-

S: Yeah, but we “weren’t talking about Superman” either…

He smiles wider, and turns back to me.

K: Does America need a hero?

M: Does America need a hero?

K: That’s the question.

M: You know what, can America have a hero?

K: No. No fucking way. You will pull out…You will turn him into a child molester in five fucking days.

We have a good laugh.

K: You love humans. We all love humans. And there’s no one out there that doesn’t have something in their past. Something that could be preyed upon. And it’s your presidential elections that prove that point, every four years. Every time you go to vote, you have to do it on the basis of, “Who has the most dirt on them?”

M: Who do I like less, or rather who is the lesser of two evils?

K: Yeah. With on exception, as far as we know, Mr. Rogers. He died with a clean slate, did he die with a clean slate?

M: There were rumors that he was an assassin (sniper) in (the Vietnam War).
(Note: On researching this rumor, it was found to be false. Mr. Rogers never served in any military organization in any capacity. Hurray for childhood memories!)

K: Well, because there has to be those rumors. I saw another movie preview. “John Lennon Vs. America.” I saw a whole bunch of movie previews today, because that’s what I do when I kill time.

A friendly looking man with a beer walks up to the table, reaching the bottle out to Kevin.

K: This is Evan Cranley from a band called Stars. These are Susan, Eric, and Matthew.

We stand and introduce ourselves to him. Kevin smiles to his friend. “I’m doing an interview with a clothing company.” “I know!” Evan remarks. Apparently, word has traveled quickly. He departed, and we went back to conversation.

K:” SO what are some of the questions that you need to ask?

M: Well, it’s not anything we “need.” It was just things to talk about.

K: Well, ask me one. Alright, let me look at them, and I’ll answer one. “Fire Eye’d Boy, video concept.” You liked “Fire Eye’d Boy?”

M: I liked it, and it reminded me of “Wet Hot American Summer,” in a weird way.

K: Alright, what’s that?

M: It’s a movie, did you ever see Te State? A comedy thing in the mid-ninties. Sketch comedy.

K: Let’s talk about something else. I saw another movie preview, with that guy from “Garden State.”

M: “Garden State,” that’s Zak Braff.

K: It’s another, “hes married, but, he’s soul searching, and maybe he shouldn’t be married, so maybe it’s that other girl.” And then, like, some fucking indie rock band is going to do the soundtrack for it. And we’re all going to watch him go through…Is he now going to be the poster boy for, like…hmm, what happened? “Lost in Translation” gets made, and everybody wants to do the “soul-searching guy” film now? And “times were good, but maybe they’re not, and what should I do, I’m so torn.” Do we need anymore of those films? Do we need anymore of this inconsistency? Is that not what is plaguing the modern relationship today? That you will constantly be thinking about, “What if? What if?” Is it not the “What if?” that they’re all preying upon right now? That is keeping people from, fucking, just doing the idea ofgetting through it? Like, our parent’s generation had to get through it, you know? Our generation doesn’t. Just fucking turn the channel. Change the fucking station.

S: It’s almost like the “American Dream.” There’s always something bigger than what we have.

K: There’s always something better.

S: There’s no, I don’t feel like we’ve been raised to feel like there’s a stopping point in life, a “You’ve made it,” where you can sit down and relax. You’re kind of raised to always want something more, to always want a bigger car, a bigger house, better…better everything. So this translates into our relationships. So the “American Dream” of having the perfect person, which obviously doesn’t exist-

K: Nobody can make a film about the middle. They all have to make it about the beginning and end. Just like no one can write a book about the middle, or fucking write songs about the middle, you know? It’s all about the beginning and the end. That’s all anybody wants to go and see.

M: They want a catharsis.

K: Yeah. They want the ending, and they want the beginning, but they don’t want the middle. They don’t want the fucking-

S: But we’re all in the middle now, right?

K: And that’s why everybody wants the beginning and end! Because we’re living in the middle. No one has an understanding of it, because there’s no fucking media that’s teaching people about the middle. The middle is getting sidetracked, people. What are you going to say, Eric?

E: Everyone has ADD.

K: I agree with you, it makes sense. Kids are…they’re putting kids on riddelin, and I’m like, “What are you fucking doing, everbody has this!” I know kids…and you can distinctly tell which kids are on riddelin now. You can, they’ve grown up, and you can tell which kids were put on riddelin in fucking high school. You know, I had ADD. Do you think my parents were going to put me on fucking riddelin? Like I told you, drugs and narcissism, and they’re going to hand me over prescription drugs? “Here you go kid. Speed to help you with your homework.” Like that’s what I was going to do while I was on speed. “Oh yeah, that’s right, I’ve got homework to do.” See you later, riding my bike through the trees.

Laughter.

K: Listening to Pink Floyd “Piper at the Gates of Dawn.”
Kevin sings out a few belts.

K: Gotta get to the next song, gotta get to the next song.

M: That was another thing Sonic Youth was always good for, back in “that time period,” listening to “Goo” on repeat.

K: Man, Sonic Youth is good for pretty much-

M: Everything.

K: Yeah, everything. I think Sonic Youth is bad for nothing. And that’s why I love them, and then there’s a new record, and I’m like, “Aw great!” And he just made a record to make a record. Made the songs, made them with all of your signature things-

M: And that’s one thing, not to blow smoke up your ass, but that’s one of the most amazing things about your band, is that it’s perfect “setting music” to anything that you want to do.

K: Yeah, and that’s what music is good for, you can take it everywhere, and if it makes you happy, then it can’t be that bad. Sheryl Crow, ladies and gentlemen. Sheyl Crow, I’m busting out the Sheryl Crow. She’s been in the headlines a lot lately, and she’s okay, and I’m glad she made it. She looks good. If it makes you happy, Sheryl, then it can’t be that bad.

M: So where’s your warm spot? What’s your background music, what’s you’re-

He looks at me with a friendly, familiar look, and we’re on even footing again.

K: You know our background music, you could hear it in our music. You know? It’s pretty easy to see where Broken Social Scene came from, you know? In terms of everyone’s musical tastes, it came from all over the fucking place, but, you know, everyone was teaching everybody. I’m busting out some Dinosaur Jr. for Andrew (Whiteman) he’s busting out some (inaudible) for me. And I’m like, “Hey, alright, I’ve never heard this.”

M: So you’ve got five people in a room, or ten people in a room, or however many people are in the room when you’re sitting down to record, and each person is saying, “Well, this is what I’ve got right now, and this is what I’ve got in my background.” You know, if it’s a three piece band, it might be a different story, but when you’re dealing with five, seven, ten people at a time, how do you manage that? How do you, you know, getting on, you know-

K: Got a lot of people, taking a lot of phone calls, getting frustrated a lot, and you just don’t let it overtake you. Stop a moment and realize that it’s just it, and that it’s all worth it, and it’s going to get worked out. Nothing has never been worked out between us, personally, or professionally. You just have to work it out.

At this point, our recorder ran out of batteries and Kevin was called backstage to get ready for the show. We said our goodbyes and took a few pictures together. The concert was, of course, absolutely wonderful. Both Broken Social Scene and Belle and Sebastian put on incredible shows with some of our favorite songs on the set-lists. All-in-all, it was certainly a worthwhile trip that none of us will soon forget!

Kevin Dres

Susan

About Susan

Susan's all-time favorite things include pugs, eating outdoors, and absurd mushroom-themed housewares. Her current obsessions include nail polish, wedges, and anything high-waisted. Her ultimate style icon is her grandma, and she's one of the founders of ModCloth!

3 Responses to Kevin Drew of Broken Social Scene

  1. Matthew 10/09/2009 at 2:34 pm #

    I recently found out that Kevin, while he was away checking our credentials, called Sheila Kenny, then a publicist at Tag Team Media (who is now owner of RightOnPR.com), to find out what the deal was with us. In that small world way, Sheila’s sister was the designer behind the boom box bags that Modcloth used to carry and which we took with us everywhere. Kevin went on at Lolapalooza that summer to tell the PR team that he only wanted to do long, drawn out weird interviews like ours.I assume that is because we rule.

  2. Emily 08/21/2013 at 12:57 pm #

    So what ever happened to that other girl, “Kaneecha/Khadija”? I bet she’s kicking herself in the ass now that ModCloth has grown into such a successful company lol

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. ModLife » Blog Archive » Recollections: Parties and Rock Stars - 11/11/2007

    [...] I want to rock or just chill out – they fit the bill. Last year, we were lucky enough to interview Kevin Drew, lead singer, for this very blog. A few months later, we threw the band a party to celebrate the [...]

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