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Canadian winters force plants to become dormant and animals to venture south toward warmer climes. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Montreal rockers Plants and Animals are fleeing the frozen landscape of their native Quebec for an American tour during this chilliest of seasons.
Lead singer/guitarist Warren Spicer was holed up inside his home—peering out his windows at the snow-covered world beyond the glass—when we caught up with him by phone.
“I’m looking forward to the warm weather,” Spicer says of his impending journey with friends and band mates (drummer Matthew “Woody” Woodley and bassist Nicolas Basque) to Southern California. The band will stop at the Glass House in Pomona on March 11 for their second appearance at the venue.
“The first time [last June], not many people knew about us. So this time around, it should be nice to have some recognition,” Spicer says jokingly.
Recognition shouldn’t be a problem at this point for Plants and Animals. They’ve played gigs with such noted indie rock acts as the Whigs, Wolf Parade and Rock Plaza Central, as well as with three sets at last year’s South By Southwest. Plants and Animals are now touring behind their 11-song, full-length debut, Parc Avenue—hailed by Pitchfork as one of the “Overlooked Records of 2008” and shortlisted for the Polaris Music Prize, an award for the best Canadian album of the year.
The album’s thick layers of sound and quick gear-shifts from anthem to ballad will squeeze a smile from even the most melancholy listener. The group’s wholesome folk-rock and timid-schoolboy lyrics play well with Parc Avenue’s lush string arrangements and electronic effects. Just don’t expect that extra instrumentation when they play live.
“The recording studio and stage show are different things for us,” Spicer says. “The record is the three of us playing and adding other sounds that get us excited. We don’t bring prerecorded stuff for our live performances. We like to produce more of a high-energy rock show.
“No one has ever complained about our live show,” Spicer adds. “There’s not a lot of time to think it doesn’t sound the same as the album. The people are entertained enough that they don’t really notice. We give 100 percent.”
But don’t expect to see the band mingling and making hot industry connections at this year’s SXSW. “We’ve already made it big in a way,” Spicer says. “I guess it keeps changing. The bigger you get, you just want to keep getting bigger. Having goals is part of a career. We want people to like what we do, so we work on new material to satisfy that thing inside that wants to write more music and make more songs that get us excited and hopefully get the audience excited, too.”
Fans will get that chance at their upcoming gigs, as well as at Chicago’s Pitchfork Festival and the Primavera Sound Festival in Barcelona.
And, like their musical style and band name suggest, Spicer has very organic definition of music-industry success. “When people look back at our time, it would be nice if they’d think of us, not as the band that was overlooked whose music didn’t mean anything to anyone, but as contributing something personal to them,” he says.
“And I’d also like to have a horse,” he declares. “That’s when I’ll really know I’ve made it—when I have a horse.”
After the band’s last performance for their U.S. tour in Chicago on March 27, they’ll return home just in time to witness the awakening of the plants and the return of the animals, seemingly riding in on their coattails. Given their heartfelt lyrics and earnest sound, spring seems like the perfect season for Plants and Animals—welcoming life and awakening the senses.
Plants and Animals with the Color Turning, Dreamers and What Hands Are For at the Glass House, 200 W. Second St., Pomona, (909) 865-3802; www.theglasshouse.us. Wed., 7 p.m. $10. All ages.