Founding member of Canadian indie rock band Broken Social Scene and solo musician in his own right Brendan Canning is in the midst of a mini American tour, including a stop Thursday night at IOTA Club & Café in Arlington.
A&E caught up with him about his new solo album, “You Gots 2 Chill,” how recording music is different since Broken Social Scene went on hiatus in 2011 and why he thinks there’s too much classification in music these days.
A&E: You were originally supposed to play some of these American dates last year, right?
Canning: I was originally going to play in October but I had some visa trouble. Since then, we’ve done some shifting of band members. I feel better going into these dates now. I feel more ready than I did then.
A&E: You’ve played the Washington, D.C., area before, at places like the 9:30 Club with Broken Social Scene. Have you played at IOTA before?
Canning: We played IOTA in 1999 so we’ll see if the walls are still there, structurally (laughs). D.C. has been very kind to me over the past decade with Broken Social Scene. I’m happy to be coming back to the D.C. area to play a gig.
A&E: You released your second solo album, “You Gots 2 Chill” in October. Can you tell me how you chose the title?
Canning: It’s a tongue-in-cheek title. It’s sort of like part tribute to [New York hip-hop group] EPMD, a group I used to like in the 1980s, and it’s just such a funny thing … It’s just funny enough to work.
A&E: How would you say “You Gots 2 Chill” compares with your first solo album, “Something for All of Us,” which came out in 2008 and was more closely tied to Broken Social Scene?
Canning: It was such a different thing. This was keeping it real simple. Everything is based around the acoustic guitar … I was sticking with that theme; we honed in on a theme. The other album people thought there was too much going on … The first one I was in Broken Social Scene mode and this one was when I was not in Broken Social Scene mode. It was very different periods of my life … Like any album, “You Gots 2 Chill” really marks a period in your life. “OK, what am I doing with my life?” I think it’s just I was in such a different head space making something for all of us versus making something for myself.
A&E: Was the actual recording process any different for the two albums?
Canning: [On “You Gots 2 Chill”] I did the majority of the stuff with my fiend Steve Sing, who has a studio not far from me. There were never more than three people in the studio. It was all daytime recordings, no real late-night sessions. Broken Social Scene liked the late-night sessions. I like recording during the day. It’s a different vibe. I feel like I got a bit more energy, a clearer picture during the day.
A&E: Is the band on the album the band that will back you up on these live shows?
Canning: The people doing the tour are not people I recorded the album with. We have a drummer for the shows but no drums on the record. Live touring for “You Gots 2 Chill” is quite different from what the album is. I recorded not really with the intention of playing these songs live. I never thought about that. I just wanted to make some music that was sounding right to my ears.
A&E: What can people expect to hear Thursday night?
Canning: We’re playing some songs that aren’t on any albums because I thought it would be more productive to play new songs with new people instead of saying, “Hey, you guys want to play some Broken Social Scene?’” I’m on a path to discover something new. It’s nice to have this new band you feel very comfortable with … road testing some songs in the meantime, trying to get that vibe. You don’t have to [say] these are all the best songs in the world. I prefer when the band can just wrangle a vibe and it makes for a pleasant experience. Unless you’re The Beatles or something where every song is great. We want to make sure there are enough pop flavors in there, enough vibe and hopefully everyone leaves a happy patron, or a happy rock fan.
A&E: Rock fan. Would you classify yourself as a ’rock n’ roll artist? You’ve been pigeonholed in lots of different genres.
Canning: It’s not really my job to categorize it. As long as someone’s mentioning the album, that’s good enough for me. Whether you want to call it psychedelic rock or folk rock. It’s a bunch of different flavors, but to me it all just sounds like music. I don’t get bogged down in how indie it is or that kind of thing. Generally there’s too much classification in music anyway.