10 Songs, 42 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

When Wolf Parade began discussing the possibility of Thin Mind, they knew that they’d be without longtime bassist Dante DeCaro—a change that would actually restore the Canadian art-rock outfit’s original lineup, with Spencer Krug generating all of their low end at his keyboard. “In a lot of ways it was familiar territory; we just had to remember what it was like to be back there,” Krug tells Apple Music. “I think we were pretty quickly reminded of the impressive amount of sound that we can make as just three people.” But Thin Mind is a return to roots in more ways than one: With his other two bandmates now based there, guitarist Dan Boeckner was forced to come back to Vancouver Island, where he grew up, for several months of writing and recording in the dark of winter. The result is a textured but deeply introspective look at how and where you’re meant to live when the world is at its most chaotic. “It’s hard to try and create a stable home when that's the ambient backdrop, that things are not going to last,” Boeckner says. “It's hard to want to think about picking a place to save up, to put a down payment on a house, when you're like, ‘Is this place even going to be geographically viable for the next however many decades of your life?’ It's a psychological current that I think runs through 2019, 2020.” Here, both Boeckner and Krug guide us through the album, track by track.

Under Glass
Dan Boeckner: “There's a direct reference to Meghan McCain in this song—‘the useless sons and daughters of the criminal class’—and I wrote that after mainlining Meghan McCain brain-poison commentary. In late 2018, there seemed to be a good three or four months where, even though no one was asking for it, Meghan f**king McCain had something to say about almost every major topic that was being lobbed around by pundits. We all lived through the Bush era, and I consciously unplugged myself from a lot of what was going on during that time. And now, living through this very strange, static era, I want to absorb it and live it as fully as possible, so I can remember it after it's over.”

Julia Take Your Man Home
Spencer Krug: “I've had these lyrics in my back pocket for a couple of years. The song's a bit of a singer-songwriter sleight of hand—sort of an apology to Julia, through these kind of tongue-in-cheek chapters of bulls**t behavior, and then asking for forgiveness. But it's not really a love song. It's more of an introspective self-loathing. To be clear, the singer is not me. I write words for the speaker of the poem, or the singer of the song. So, in that way, it’s a short story that can be read at any time.”

Forest Green
DB: “This happened for me on a couple of times on this record: The mood of the song informs the mood of the lyrics. We put this thing together and, being back out on [Vancouver] Island for as long as I was, I was having some deeply conflicted feelings: Like, everybody must be kind of tired of me complaining about the same things and this place that they live in and experience on a day-to-day level. So I just started putting all of them into this song. I imagined it takes place super-positioned between a current version of Vancouver Island and a future version of Vancouver Island.”

Out of Control
SK: “The title is pretty on the nose—it's about how we can't really control life. I think the characters in this song have moved somewhere with a plan, and then they're sitting in this new environment, realizing that their plan was never going to come to fruition. It’s something that I'm going through in life right now, living on Vancouver Island—it's this constant question about what's better for me and the notion that asking these questions is kind of pointless, because I can't really control all the different aspects of my life anyway. Your love and devotion to people other than yourself might sometimes land you in a place that you wouldn't otherwise have been in. And that's the out-of-control part of yourself, because you're not going to choose who you love, right?”

The Static Age
DB: “I was reading this book of short stories called The King in the Golden Mask, by this guy Marcel Schwob. He was writing from the point of view of somebody who's in an empire that is on the verge of total collapse. I wanted to take the title character from the title story of that book and insert him into the song, because I felt like it was just such a great metaphor for a ruler who's completely out of touch with his populace. There's definitely a sense that every day is the same as the one before, just a little worse. But I didn't want it to be completely bleak, and I think there is an element of hope and the possibility to change.”

As Kind as You Can
SK: “Three very different chapters that lead to the same conclusion: the chorus [“Be as kind as you can”]. It was the first thing I decided on, as I was writing. But to be honest, I really struggled with whether or not to keep it there, because there's something so naive about it in a way. And then, over time, as the recording process continued, I realized that that was actually what I loved about it—it's just such a simple, universal request that anyone can ask of anyone else.”

Fall Into the Future
SK: “So many of our songs come from chance, from someone starting a riff and everyone else just adding their part over the course of an hour. This started as a jam, and I think most of the songs from this record are like that—a band effort. For me, it’s the lightest one on the record, lyrically at least. It has a very straight-up “Take a Chance on Me” kind of vibe which, to me, fits the music great, because the music is light and fun, insomuch as Wolf Parade gets light and fun.”

Wandering Son
DB: “Definitely the most personal song on the record for me. I started trying to write something about how I'm constantly drifting between being completely estranged from my family and coming back into their orbit just because of my job—and then expanded that to include experiences of people who are close to me. The ‘dissolved on the map’ line is, you're not local to anywhere. You just kind of disappear into the topography that you're bouncing around in, and you become kind of atomized—emotionally and spatially. But trying to find some kind of peace in that state—not necessarily fighting against it, embracing the vapor quality of your existence. I'm kind of obsessed with the idea that as a musician, you're constantly in the process of haunting your own life. You're experiencing places like Chicago and New York through the refraction of all the other times you've been there. Time is passing, and the city itself is changing, but you're coming back. Maybe you're playing the same place you played before. Maybe you're meeting some of the same people you worked with before. You're just a ghost, occupying this big house that's your life.”

Against the Day
DB: “We determined at some point last year that there's always been kind of a Halloween-ish quality to Wolf Parade, like a dark but not too self-serious haunted-house vibe that I'm pretty proud of. I think it's one of the defining musical characteristics of the band. When we wrote this, we were thinking it—externally, tonally—sounded like a song off the Lost Boys soundtrack. I started thinking about a pair of vampires who were condemned to live forever, and were constantly returning to the same place and seeing it change over time. Spencer and I trade verses, which is something we should do more of.”
SK: “In Wolf Parade, we've always had this tradition of, we don't confer over lyrics. That's sacred ground, and each singer has complete control of whatever they're going to sing. This is more Dan's baby than it was mine, so he wrote the lyrics first, and then I just asked him what he was singing about. He was like, ‘It's about two vampires.’ So, I'm just like, ‘Okay. I'll be the other vampire.’”

Town Square
SK: “There were a couple days when the island got an unexpected amount of snow—and when it gets a lot of snow, everything just shuts down. I was snowed into my house, and we had to just call it quits on going to the studio for a few days. Being snowed in, tethered to my desk, where I'm just working on my laptop and Googling s**t and writing emails and trying to be creative through using all these technological tools, I always find I end up in a sort of thin-minded place by the end of the day when I'm doing that. I have zero attention span, and I feel really far away from my emotional and spiritual core. The song is about finding yourself disengaged with the human world because you're only engaging with people through tech—actual human interaction is losing its meaning. The singer is pining for a time when people weren't communicating in that way.”

EDITORS’ NOTES

When Wolf Parade began discussing the possibility of Thin Mind, they knew that they’d be without longtime bassist Dante DeCaro—a change that would actually restore the Canadian art-rock outfit’s original lineup, with Spencer Krug generating all of their low end at his keyboard. “In a lot of ways it was familiar territory; we just had to remember what it was like to be back there,” Krug tells Apple Music. “I think we were pretty quickly reminded of the impressive amount of sound that we can make as just three people.” But Thin Mind is a return to roots in more ways than one: With his other two bandmates now based there, guitarist Dan Boeckner was forced to come back to Vancouver Island, where he grew up, for several months of writing and recording in the dark of winter. The result is a textured but deeply introspective look at how and where you’re meant to live when the world is at its most chaotic. “It’s hard to try and create a stable home when that's the ambient backdrop, that things are not going to last,” Boeckner says. “It's hard to want to think about picking a place to save up, to put a down payment on a house, when you're like, ‘Is this place even going to be geographically viable for the next however many decades of your life?’ It's a psychological current that I think runs through 2019, 2020.” Here, both Boeckner and Krug guide us through the album, track by track.

Under Glass
Dan Boeckner: “There's a direct reference to Meghan McCain in this song—‘the useless sons and daughters of the criminal class’—and I wrote that after mainlining Meghan McCain brain-poison commentary. In late 2018, there seemed to be a good three or four months where, even though no one was asking for it, Meghan f**king McCain had something to say about almost every major topic that was being lobbed around by pundits. We all lived through the Bush era, and I consciously unplugged myself from a lot of what was going on during that time. And now, living through this very strange, static era, I want to absorb it and live it as fully as possible, so I can remember it after it's over.”

Julia Take Your Man Home
Spencer Krug: “I've had these lyrics in my back pocket for a couple of years. The song's a bit of a singer-songwriter sleight of hand—sort of an apology to Julia, through these kind of tongue-in-cheek chapters of bulls**t behavior, and then asking for forgiveness. But it's not really a love song. It's more of an introspective self-loathing. To be clear, the singer is not me. I write words for the speaker of the poem, or the singer of the song. So, in that way, it’s a short story that can be read at any time.”

Forest Green
DB: “This happened for me on a couple of times on this record: The mood of the song informs the mood of the lyrics. We put this thing together and, being back out on [Vancouver] Island for as long as I was, I was having some deeply conflicted feelings: Like, everybody must be kind of tired of me complaining about the same things and this place that they live in and experience on a day-to-day level. So I just started putting all of them into this song. I imagined it takes place super-positioned between a current version of Vancouver Island and a future version of Vancouver Island.”

Out of Control
SK: “The title is pretty on the nose—it's about how we can't really control life. I think the characters in this song have moved somewhere with a plan, and then they're sitting in this new environment, realizing that their plan was never going to come to fruition. It’s something that I'm going through in life right now, living on Vancouver Island—it's this constant question about what's better for me and the notion that asking these questions is kind of pointless, because I can't really control all the different aspects of my life anyway. Your love and devotion to people other than yourself might sometimes land you in a place that you wouldn't otherwise have been in. And that's the out-of-control part of yourself, because you're not going to choose who you love, right?”

The Static Age
DB: “I was reading this book of short stories called The King in the Golden Mask, by this guy Marcel Schwob. He was writing from the point of view of somebody who's in an empire that is on the verge of total collapse. I wanted to take the title character from the title story of that book and insert him into the song, because I felt like it was just such a great metaphor for a ruler who's completely out of touch with his populace. There's definitely a sense that every day is the same as the one before, just a little worse. But I didn't want it to be completely bleak, and I think there is an element of hope and the possibility to change.”

As Kind as You Can
SK: “Three very different chapters that lead to the same conclusion: the chorus [“Be as kind as you can”]. It was the first thing I decided on, as I was writing. But to be honest, I really struggled with whether or not to keep it there, because there's something so naive about it in a way. And then, over time, as the recording process continued, I realized that that was actually what I loved about it—it's just such a simple, universal request that anyone can ask of anyone else.”

Fall Into the Future
SK: “So many of our songs come from chance, from someone starting a riff and everyone else just adding their part over the course of an hour. This started as a jam, and I think most of the songs from this record are like that—a band effort. For me, it’s the lightest one on the record, lyrically at least. It has a very straight-up “Take a Chance on Me” kind of vibe which, to me, fits the music great, because the music is light and fun, insomuch as Wolf Parade gets light and fun.”

Wandering Son
DB: “Definitely the most personal song on the record for me. I started trying to write something about how I'm constantly drifting between being completely estranged from my family and coming back into their orbit just because of my job—and then expanded that to include experiences of people who are close to me. The ‘dissolved on the map’ line is, you're not local to anywhere. You just kind of disappear into the topography that you're bouncing around in, and you become kind of atomized—emotionally and spatially. But trying to find some kind of peace in that state—not necessarily fighting against it, embracing the vapor quality of your existence. I'm kind of obsessed with the idea that as a musician, you're constantly in the process of haunting your own life. You're experiencing places like Chicago and New York through the refraction of all the other times you've been there. Time is passing, and the city itself is changing, but you're coming back. Maybe you're playing the same place you played before. Maybe you're meeting some of the same people you worked with before. You're just a ghost, occupying this big house that's your life.”

Against the Day
DB: “We determined at some point last year that there's always been kind of a Halloween-ish quality to Wolf Parade, like a dark but not too self-serious haunted-house vibe that I'm pretty proud of. I think it's one of the defining musical characteristics of the band. When we wrote this, we were thinking it—externally, tonally—sounded like a song off the Lost Boys soundtrack. I started thinking about a pair of vampires who were condemned to live forever, and were constantly returning to the same place and seeing it change over time. Spencer and I trade verses, which is something we should do more of.”
SK: “In Wolf Parade, we've always had this tradition of, we don't confer over lyrics. That's sacred ground, and each singer has complete control of whatever they're going to sing. This is more Dan's baby than it was mine, so he wrote the lyrics first, and then I just asked him what he was singing about. He was like, ‘It's about two vampires.’ So, I'm just like, ‘Okay. I'll be the other vampire.’”

Town Square
SK: “There were a couple days when the island got an unexpected amount of snow—and when it gets a lot of snow, everything just shuts down. I was snowed into my house, and we had to just call it quits on going to the studio for a few days. Being snowed in, tethered to my desk, where I'm just working on my laptop and Googling s**t and writing emails and trying to be creative through using all these technological tools, I always find I end up in a sort of thin-minded place by the end of the day when I'm doing that. I have zero attention span, and I feel really far away from my emotional and spiritual core. The song is about finding yourself disengaged with the human world because you're only engaging with people through tech—actual human interaction is losing its meaning. The singer is pining for a time when people weren't communicating in that way.”

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