If you cook, you are either the type who prefers a rigidly organized recipe from which you could never defer or you are the type who prefers to throw together whatever happens to be in the refrigerator. This difference is fairly similar with music.
For Bruce Peninsula, a combination of meticulous composition and fluid contribution is what has come to define their unique sound. The band came together in 2006 and has between three and seven core members, depending on who can get together at any given time. There are five who contribute most often, which include Neil Haverty (guitar and lead vocals), Matt Cully (guitar and vocals), Steve McKay (drums), Andrew Barker (bass), and Misha Bower (vocals).
“We’re willing to expand and deflate as needed,” explained Haverty. Clearly, the band’s composition is not limited to a specific number, with their biggest show boasting a total of 15 on stage.
Cully and Bower, followed shortly by Haverty, formed in Toronto and were originally inspired by 1930s American folk and blues recordings. The format of the band evolved quickly as the trio realized that many of their friends could sing, creating the choir of backup singers that add a soulful dynamic to their lyrics.
The past year has been a busy one, albeit not in terms of shows. They’ve been writing and recording their new album, set to come out in March. It will be a follow up to their 2009 debut, A Mountain Is A Mouth, which was long-listed for the 2009 Polaris Music Prize.
“We want to get a lot more progressive and weird,” Haverty said of the new album, while also adding that they have been most recently inspired by modern classical music. Bruce Peninsula has been described as many different genres, from folk, rock, country, and pop, to gospel. However, the band refuses to categorize themselves. “I don’t like categorization. I think that we’re constantly striving to not be categorized. As soon as you can sort of paint us into a corner, we try to paint ourselves out of it and go to another corner,” said Haverty. “I’d like to think it’s chameleon music,” he continued.
The members of Bruce Peninsula are not only painting themselves into different corners of musical genres, but are also spreading their music into all corners of the globe. Although no international tour is currently scheduled, they definitely have an international fanbase which stretches as far as China. “The Internet has made Canadian music that much easier to absorb,” commented Haverty.
Bruce Peninsula has been compared to bands like Arcade Fire and Broken Social Scene in terms of their large and fluid membership, which brings to mind the idea of the Canadian collective. They are one of many bands that are redefining the common perception of Canadian music. “I think we’ve got a pretty good thing going right now,” mused Haverty. “Canada is in a pretty good position as far as taste-making and trendsetting.”
Having played in Montreal several times, they are looking forward to their concert this week. “It’s Montreal that really put Canada on the map in the last five to 10 years,” Haverty said of the music scene. After this show the band will be playing longer stretches leading up to their album release. A three-or four-month tour is expected to follow.
Bruce Peninsula will be playing Casa Del Popolo Oct. 13 at 8:30 p.m. with Charlotte Cornfield and Ghostkeeper.