This May Toronto indie rock collective Broken Social Scene announced their tour to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their breakthrough album, You Forgot It in People, their sophomore LP, which Pitchfork called, “endlessly replayable, perfect pop.” The album features contributions from longtime friends and collaborators from Do Make Say Think, Stars, Metric, and Leslie Feist (all of whom have been members of BSS throughout the past two decades). Additionally, they announced the release of You Forgot It in People, The Graphic Novel, which features writer Lonnie Nadler and 13 artists creating vignettes corresponding to the album’s 13 tracks and is available courtesy of Z2 comics, who’ve previously collaborated with Gorillaz, Grateful Dead, and Ronnie James Dio. And just last week the band dropped surprise release Live At the Phoenix Concert Theatre, 2003, a live bootleg documenting their three sold-out shows from the hometown venue in December of that year.
I recently got a chance to chat with Broken Social Scene vocalist, bassist, and co-founder Brendan Canning (who has fond memories of the band playing The Khyber, TLA, Electric Factory, Union Transfer, and First Unitarian Church) over the phone about the You Forgot It in People Anniversary Tour, which will find itself at Union Transfer on Wednesday, October 12th. “Anyone who’s ever seen us knows it’s like The Book of Broken Social Scene come to life… We’re a very animated crew. It’s gonna be a celebration,” he tells me of what fans can expect of the evening. He also tells me that he has a special affection for the Eraserhood venue: “Union Transfer feels very homey… I mean, still getting invited back is just such a huge honor and accomplishment.” He also adds that he thinks the venue’s architecture and makeup works especially well for the BSS live show: “[It’s] such a wicked cool venue, with all that wood. Wood just absorbs sound in the perfect way that concrete can’t.”
Their current tour – which kicked off last week in Vancouver — has Broken Social Scene playing You Forgot It in People in its entirety, but Brendan tells me that you can also expect to hear some of the band’s favorite tracks from throughout their career, and possibly even some solo tracks or tracks from other projects: “I think it’s gonna boil down to what’s sounding the best, like maybe we’ll try some things and someone will be like, ‘This one doesn’t feel as good as this one,’ or something like that… We’ve got lots of music to choose from.” And when I ask if he currently has any favorite songs from YFIIP, he tells me that while it’s impossible to choose, there are a few that stand out: “I can’t pin it down to a single track, but ‘Late Nineties Bedroom Rock for the Missionaries’ and ‘Shampoo Suicide,’ which we always do together, that’s always really special live, and I think ‘Pacific Theme’ is a pretty unique track.”
I ask Brendan about the biggest differences between the Broken Social Scene that recorded You Forgot It in People and the BSS of 2022, and he laughs, telling me that it really can’t be put into words: “Imagine you’re 18 and now you’re 38 [reflecting on my own age between the band’s past 20 years] and all the things that have happened to you and your 10 best friends.” But he does admit that this band wasn’t necessarily what any of the members planned to be their primary focus: “I was in four bands that were all signed at the time… [BSS] was young, it was fresh, we knew we had something good.” And he tells me that that shared feeling is what’s kept the band alive all this time: “We’ve all had different trajectories, but we keep coming back to this gravitational pull that is Broken Social Scene.”
I’m curious what the immediate future holds for Broken Social Scene and Brendan tells me that this anniversary celebration and related entities will likely go on for a while: “We’re gonna continue this You Forgot It in People tour. We’re working on a band doc as well.” However, he tells me that there will inevitably be some new music: “I think we’re gonna figure out how to make some new music and what that’s gonna look like, get together in the studio and think about, ‘What do we wanna do? What do we wanna say? Where’s everyone at?” Although, he admits that in their current state and with respective careers, he’s not exactly sure how that’s all going to go: “That’s always a tricky question… We don’t show up to rehearsals on Monday morning like we used to… We need to see what we see eye-to-eye on and maybe what we might not see eye-to-eye on.”
*Get your tickets here.