Bell Orchestre, a 5 piece band from Montreal, recorded their first LP while some of its members were simultaneously working on Arcade Fire’s “Funeral”. With the latter’s success and the release of “Recording A Tape The Colour Of The Light” delayed until 2005, touring and promotion has been sporadic. Following a brief tour through Europe, the band arrives at Indie Unlimited at the Harbourfront Centre. Frontman Richard Parry talks to us about a new album and the nature of hype.
How were the shows in Europe?
Mostly really good. We like Europeans, as people and audiences alike. Our music seems to be received really well over there, which is exciting.
What’s it like to come back to shows in Canada after playing abroad?
We’ll see on the 27th… Toronto is usually very kind and warm towards us so hopefully it’ll be as fun as it usually is there. Although we’ve never played in the daylight in Toronto…
You recorded “Recording A Tape The Colour Of The Light” in 2003 and now you’ve been touring to promote the album in Europe. What’s it like revisiting the music in between other projects?
It’s been good, I think we’re all glad to be coming to the end of this phase of performances, everyone’s good and ready to move forward with new compositions and new recordings. Things will be different next album…
As instrumentals, your songs tend to be somewhat short. Is there any motivation in keeping them relatively succinct?
We try and be as succinct as possible while still trying to give things enough time/space to be fun when we perform them… but we’re very aware of not letting any particular piece of music or section outstay it’s welcome, so to speak. I guess we’re a little musically flirtatious sometimes. We basically go with what feels interesting and engaging to us, when a piece or a part seems finished, it’s time to move on. Hopefully that translates to the listener as well.
Does having overlap in members between Bell Orchestre and Arcade Fire let you split your time between both bands more easily?
Nope. It’s fairly hectic.
Does it sometimes feel like the hype surrounding Montreal bands is being overdone? On one hand, it can feel like Canadian indie music is being sold as very trendy, but at the same time one might say that the music justifies the attention.
I think that a good amount of the Canadian acts that “people are paying attention to” are quite good. There are lots of great ones that are criminally overlooked, as always… and there are some Canadian bands in the spotlight that are terrible, as is always the case. I dunno. “Hype” usually amounts to a certain amount of people getting really really excited about something- a band, a city, whatever- and then relaying that excitement to other people, who relay their own excitement to others. As long as it is people being honestly excited about music or art or whatever, then it’s great.
You mentioned a new album. Any concrete plans?
Yeah, there is a new record in the works. We’re composing currently and will be recording a bit during the late fall, most likely with John McEntire.
Bell Orchestre played Indie Unlimited at the Harbourfront this weekend.