Plants and Animals to play final show as trio in St. John’s

Justin Brake
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Montreal band Plants and Animals is playing in St. John’s tonight at The Rock House. — Submitted photo

It’s an inspiring time for Montreal rock band Plants and Animals. The show tonight at The Rock House in St. John’s will mark the end of an era for the group when members Warren Spicer, Matthew ‘Woody’ Woodley and Nicolas Basque play what could be their last show as the trio that rose to indie-national prominence with their style of eclectic and always evolving music.

And that’s not the only scoop Woodley, the band’s drummer, shared with The Telegram in a recent phone interview.

They also have a new record called “The End of That” in the bag and, following their St. John’s gig and a merited break from touring, will release it in February.

The album will feature the three original band members and new Plants and Animals recruit, bassist Eric Digras.

It was recorded over two weeks last spring at La Frette Studios on the outskirts of Paris, France, the same place they laid down a number of tracks for 2010’s “La La Land.”

“We’d demoed all of last winter in Montreal, where we could kind of stretch out a little bit and work on ideas,” explains Woodley, who hails from Halifax. “Then we hit the studio thinking we were going to bang all these tunes out, and it wasn’t necessarily smooth as that. We hit some walls and realized the songs weren’t in the shape we had anticipated, but that happens.

“It’s a funny kind of pressure environment, to go into a studio and say, OK, here we go — we’re in this place, we got the sounds right and we just worked on that forever and spent a whole bunch of money, so let’s do this and get this right.”

They got it right, says Woodley, and are already exploring new creative grounds.

“We just spent a few days up at a cabin working on some new stuff and were thinking, why don’t we just do it this way next time, with a simple setup in a cabin where we can stretch out and the pressure’s a little bit less?”

Pressure or no pressure, Plants and Animals’ output since its Polaris-shortlisted and Juno-nominated 2008 full-length debut “Parc Avenue” has been a force.

But the fact they’re consciously evolving into a fuller and more mature band only makes the forthcoming record waiting game that much more anticipatory.

So what does the new material sound like?

“It’s not as loud and bold or dark as ‘La La Land’ (and) I’d say it’s a little bit more open and airier, but it doesn’t have that Parc Avenue grandiosity-we didn’t bring in the strings and the horns and all that,” Woodley explains, hesitant to describe the album before people have a chance to listen to it.

“But as far as feeling goes, from my perspective it’s straight from the heart. I think Warren, who writes the lyrics, got as personal as he’s ever gotten on this one. It’s just the bones — it’s guitars and singing and drums, kind of straight up off the floor. I guess we strove for immediacy,” he says. “We pushed it. There’s different colours in there.”

Like their previous efforts, “The End of That” was self-produced. And it seems the band’s maturation involves a resolve tap into the creativity whenever it might beckon.

With the band already generating new material and “The End of That” release still more than three months away, the question seems not to be, can Plants and Animals keep up with the music industry machine?, but rather, can the music industry machine keep up with Plants and Animals?

At the axis of yet another transformative moment of their band’s evolutionary essence, Spicer, Woodley and Basque perform, perhaps for the last time in St. John’s as a trio, at The Rock House on George Street tonight alongside local act Secret Connection.

Organizations: The Rock House, The Telegram, La Frette Studios

Geographic location: Montreal, Paris, France Parc Avenue Halifax George Street

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