Arts

Hanging out with “We Are the City”

We Are the City is a Canadian prog-rock band based in Vancouver, British Columbia. Winners of First Prize in 2009’s Peak Performance Contest, composers of the soundtrack to critically-lauded feature-film “Violent,” and currently self-producing out of a Vancouver bike shop, We Are the City is quirky, vibrant, possessed of a strong cult following and poised to make an indelible mark on the mainstream music scene. Guitarist David Menzel graciously agreed to an interview.

What is your name? What instrument(s) do you play?
My name is David Menzel and I’m the assistant to — sorry, I was going to make an Office joke — I’m the guitar player.

Do you sing or songwrite as well?
I’d say the entire band helps to songwrite, but no, I don’t really sing; our piano player [Cayne McKenzie] is lead singer.

Who are your fellow band-members?
There’s Cayne McKenzie, who covers piano and vocals, Andrew Huculiak, drummer and backup singer, and I’m David Menzel, guitar player.

How did your band get together?
Cayne and I first met in elementary school. We didn’t really talk or interact much but we certainly got along. Around seventh or eighth grade, though, we really started to hang out, playing acoustic guitar together and longboarding. Later on, we met [Andrew Huculiak], and the rest is history.

What artistic sources, if any, would you say your music draws inspiration from?
We had a few different influences for our most recent album; we definitely listened to Kimbra, some Beyonce, [the next artist’s name was rendered unintelligible due to the interviewer screaming “YASSSSS” upon hearing mention of Queen Bey], and even some Death Grips.

We never spend a ton of time listening to too much of anything, like when we were recently touring, we spent the eight-hour drive talking to one another as opposed to listening to music.

Your group has gained some attention for livestreaming the recording of your new album. Tell us a bit about that.
We definitely had a great time with everything; I’d say by the end we had about 350 hours worth of livestreamed audio and video footage. The entire process, we think, is a great way to bring our fans closer to our music and to really build a strong community around our music.

Whose idea was the livestream recording?
I have absolutely no idea; nothing our band does is any one person’s idea. We have a very close-knit dynamic, a strong team dynamic, and when it comes to band decisions, it’s as though there’s a We Are the City brain and we’re all a part of that brain.

Out of your songs, which would you say is your favorite?
My favorite song of ours? That’s a tough one; if I had to pick, I’d pick the song “Take Your Picture With Me While You Still Can.” It really grooves for me.

On a similar note, which songs of yours would you use to introduce the group to a potential fan?
Hmmm…“Kiss Me Honey,” “Check Room,” and “Baptism.” If I have to stick to a shorter list, definitely those three.

What is your most treasured/memorable We Are the City moment?
Making the album and coming out with this idea, I guess. But that’s too hard of a question; every moment our band spends together is a great moment.

Any funny band stories?
Oh, [laughs], I have a good one. We were picking up merch in Nashville when a bee landed on Cayne’s, our lead singer’s, face. Cayne had no idea what it was, so he lashes out and hits himself in the face extremely hard; I didn’t see it happen, but I could hear the sound of his hand hitting his face. I remember him saying later, “I have such a bad headache; maybe it’s an ear infection or, oh yeah, maybe it was me punching myself in the head.”

How would you describe your band’s musical/artistic niche to a music listener, assuming an outside perspective?
I’d tell people about how this band We Are the City hasn’t just made music, they’ve done so many other things, like release a feature-length film in Norway. We’ve done some very eclectic things for a band, I think, and we’re really worth checking out. So if you had to ‘brand’ us, I’d say brand us as a group of creatives, three guys who like to create art and give people an experience worth remembering, musically and through other mediums.

We Are The City is coming to the Varsity Theater in downtown Minneapolis on November 17th.

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November 13, 2015

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