Making music is their collective way of processing it. Plants and Animals are Nicolas Basque, Warren Spicer and Matthew Woodley. The Jungle is their shortest album yet and almost certainly their boldest. Eight acts in a world full of noise. It comes out in October 2020.
This song grew out of the ashes of one that we had recorded for the previous record but didn’t ultimately make the cut. Nic, who had sparked the song in the first place way back when, wanted to try to salvage some of the parts and give it another shot — the chord changes and the “yeah yeah yeahs” at least, which were inspired by Jorge Ben and the band’s eternal love for Brazilian music.
Awhile later, we went to a cottage in the country to work on the record. One night we took a bunch of mushrooms and hash oil and listened to everything we had recorded up to that point. Warren and Nic were huge fans of the song already but Warren hadn’t gotten into it yet. Under the influence, that night, Warren fell in love and played it about 25 times in a row.
Warren punched a sequence into an 808, which is of course a drum machine and also turned out to be a defibrillator. The song took on a new life. Woody played a motorik beat on top of it, cutting straight ahead against the quirky 808 groove. Warren did bass. Adele Trottier-Rivard was with us that day and she sang and tried out different shakers, routed through some of Nic’s pedals, which he manipulated on the fly with one hand while their baby was in his other arm. In the beginning of the song, you hear laughing and Adèle’s voice speaking some text. That text is actually her reading the manual of the Korg MS20 synth that Nic is playing in the song.
We jammed the chords and messed around. The news seeped into the words and music along with this general feeling of ominousness, threat, change, outside menace and inside safety, of family, protection, innocence and play. The singing ended up a chorus rather than a singular voice. One of the lyrics became the song’s name became the album’s name became the overarching theme of the whole record. The version of the song we mixed that night is the one that’s on the record. It took a village.
“Love That Boy”
Woody: Warren brought this one in demo form, pretty much all fleshed out. All we had to do was play it and finesse it. We all found the song immediate and real — so easy to get behind. It played itself. I remember Warren saying something about going into his laundry room studio at home frustrated one night and it just coming out.
Warren: It’s song about my family, present and past, but it feels more like a meditation. I was upset, frustrated and feeling like no one knew me — the kid me, the me I still feel I am. And then writing the song chilled me out and put me right. It was a way to connect with my dead parents and with my new life as dad and give everyone a proper hug. I wasn’t too concerned about the lyrics, it was a cathartic act and what I needed at that time so I just let it happen. I have a strong memory of being a kid in the back seat of my parents’ car driving down the road at night in Halifax. The moon was bright and I watched it as it danced, interrupted by trees, like a strobe light or a stop-motion film. it followed us as we drove and I couldn’t figure out how it was doing that. Nothing else I could see out the window kept up. Why is the moon not moving? I hadn’t thought of that for a very long time but some how the song brought me back to that place.
Nic: To me this song feels sweaty and orange or amber, a ’60s song that was forgotten. I tried to play as if I was in Alice Coltrane’s band, where every note matters, splashing different colours to the canvas, acting like a snake moving between chords and space.
“House on Fire”
We started working on this a couple of years ago. Warren was afraid for a friend’s health. He thought he was self-medicating too much and not taking care of himself. He couldn’t let go of this image of an overworked dude swallowing too many sleeping pills and falling asleep with the stove on. House on Fire. So it began as the place next door, sometime before Greta Thunberg turned the expression into a rallying cry, where Earth is the house and the people are sleeping. It’s terrifying, and on the whole we’re not unlike this friend are we?
We were listening to Donna Summer, Giorgio Morodor, Arthur Russell, all this disco weirdness that Nic plugged into the song through an old Korg synthesizer. We wanted it to feel pulsing and a touch off-kilter. And hot of course. Also, Nic hates this song, which is hilarious.
This is a song about what people are willing to do for feelings of acceptance and quick tastes of happiness. The goal was to have two contrasting sections pushed up against each other with abrupt transitions between them. First there’s this rhythmic cycle that’s hypnotic and intense, with a vocal line floating through it all dreamy and unanchored. Then, pow, the clouds part and there’s a chorus that’s straight up easy. It’s the clarity of hindsight. Relishing it. And maybe a bit cocky because then we go back to the crazy again. We love playing with tension and release and this song is typical of our band, moving all together as a group but still in our own rhythm, all targeting the same intention. It’s extremely satisfying to play live. Some may notice how Nic steers the song out of dangerous 1970s waters with cleverly placed McCoy Tyner chords.
“Get My Mind”
Nic wrote the guitar part on a dark night and developed it into a full song demo. Originally he had envisioned the chorus having an orchestral pop feel in the vein of, say, Grizzly Bear but but the time we had tracked it in the studio, it sounded like late-era Led Zeppelin with those big outdoor synths and general bombast. We liked the instrumental version we had put together with the trip-hoppy verses and the open section at the end, but it sat for a long time without words. One weekend we rented a cottage on a frozen lake to take stock and do some vocals. Nic had song “get my mind” somewhere in his demo. While we sat at hearth’s edge looking for the meaning in the song, Warren had a flash: “get my mind” as inheritance. Having recently lost his father, he had some immediate experience to draw on: The things you inherit aren’t always things you want.
Woody got this machine that makes a drum kit play samples and he didn’t know how to use it. But he chopped up some of Warren’s guitar chords and played them with his bass drum anyway. So it all ended up as this wobbly, dreamy jam that we all got attached to. Nic wrote most of lyrics in the lineup at Home Depot. They’re about an evening in Queens, dancing among strangers, time moving backwards in slow motion and falling in love.
“In Your Eyes”
This came from Nic and he sings lead vocal on it. It’s written for a teenager trying to navigate his anxiety about climate change and his own life, feeling depressed and lost. And its’s coming from a parent trying at once to let go and still keep a distant, loving eye on him. All of the confusion that comes with that. The end is hopeful and vast. We recorded this one with Mishka Stein playing bass and added the vocals some time later at the cottage on the frozen lake. It wasn’t clear what they would be at first or that he would even sing, but Nic repeated what he had on the demo and it was clear that that his original instincts were the purest sentiment and the truest fit.
Cool interplay between the drums and the guitars. Power ballad vocals. As a modern pop song, this one probably best exemplifies the chops Warren has developed as a producer over the past few years. Sonic boom.
Warren: I am not sure what to say about this one. A lament? A regret? A prophecy? Personal and not yet understood.