Arts, Events, The Muse

To party or to die?

When the members of the Canadian band You Say Party! We Say Die! showed up to the set of their latest music video, they were greeted by one very demanding costar.

“The guy who brought the hawk [in the video] also brought an owl, but it was the owl from the Harry Potter movies,” bassist Stephen O’Shea revealed. “It was a bit of a diva and didn’t want to do any of the flying scenes.”

Perhaps it was for the best, considering YSP! WSD!’s music is more suited for a sleek and stealth hawk than a rotund, nocturnal hooter. With new-wave inspired synths and an infectious dance-punk-pop sound, the co-ed Canuck quintet is eager to hit the road in support of its fourth LP, XXXX, which was released last month.

“I would tell first time listeners to listen to the song, “There is XXXX (Within My Heart),'” O’Shea said. “It’s a pretty accurate representation of the kind of band we are. The idea of love, and, after six years of being in this band, the lessons we have learned of being friends and the closeness we have. It also has a really good dance beat. We like to dance.”

The use of X’s in place of the dreaded L-word (not the Showtime kind) is glaring on the album &- there are three tunes that make use of the substitution &- but O’Shea insists the band is not a group of jilted lovers.

“On our very first EP, the lead singer [Becky Ninkovic] did the artwork and on that cover there are four paper X’s &- that was her mark of love,” he said. “When we were making this record she suggested it as the title. It only seemed natural that now is the time to use it.”

Produced by Howard Redekopp, who has helmed albums for the New Pornographers and Tegan &’ Sara, the album is a hands-in-the-air, foot-stomping affair with frenetic drum lines and chanting choruses. O’Shea said the liveliness on record is even more grandiose on stage.

“We’re a high energy band,” O’Shea said. “When we have an audience that shows up and is ready to have fun, there is lots of chanting and hand claps.”

And after five years of being banned from playing on U.S. soil because of a work permit dispute, O’Shea said the band is hoping audiences are ready to have a good time.
“We’ve been up against crowds ready to stand with their hands crossed,” he said “But having a good time and being uninhibited rather than playing into the I’m-too-cool-for-school attitude leads to enjoyment for all parties.”

The band should be in excellent shape when it hits TT The Bears this Saturday, considering they spent last month playing shows in Vancouver as part of the Olympic celebrations. But what if the band had pursued Olympic-caliber athletic careers instead of making music?

“I myself have really taken to ladies’ curling,” O’Shea admits. “But if the band were to participate in an event, it would have to be boardercross. All five of us on snowboards, vying to pass each other and cross finish line first.”

You Say Party! We Say Die! is playing at TT The Bears in Cambridge on Saturday, March 27. The album XXXX is out now on Paper Bag Records.

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