When Montreal-based band Plants and Animals went into the studio to record their award nominated album Parc Avenue, the intended outcome was not musically confident songs with haunting vocals, the band had actually recorded an entirely instrumental album first.
Before Nicolas Basque, Warren Spicer and Matthew Woodley had even taken the stage, they had gone into the studio to record a five track instrumental album featuring guitars, drums, horns and strings.
“[Spicer] had a grant from the Canada Arts Council to do a recording,” said Basque, who does vocals, bass, keyboard and guitar for the band. “That was the first album we ever did. After that we started playing off and on in Montreal playing where there was a need for an opening act or where ever we could.”
Before long the trio entered the studio begin work on their first album as Plants and Animals.
With their strong musical background – the three had met as music students at Montreal’s Concordia University – they started recording with the idea they would be creating another instrumental album.
They had finished the whole album but decided to scrap it and start from scratch.
“It started with the idea that it was going to be all instrumental,” said Basque. “Then there were more and more songs with vocals and it just made more sense for us to record more song based material.”
The Montreal that Basque grew up had a much different musical setting than the one now that is known for bands like Arcade Fire, Wolf Parade and Stars.
While he said the theatre, cinema, dance and arts scenes were always active, it took some time for music to emerge.
“The word eventually caught on that Montreal was a nice place for music and for living, mostly,” he said. “But it’s kind of always been a good city for other art forms.”
Since Plants and Animals released Parc Avenue in 2008 they have been followed by Polaris Music Prize and Juno Award nominations.
In February, the trio released their third full length album The End of That.
Instead of approaching the creation of the project as they had with two previous albums, Basque said they spent a significant amount of time writing and demoing songs before they set foot in the studio.
“We normally design and record the album in the studio,” said Basque. “But for this one a lot of the music was written before we went into the studio. Most of the stuff was arranged and finessed in the studio because we wanted to focus on the performance of songs.”
Plants and Animals fans will have a chance to hear music from The End of That when the trio takes the stage at Spiritbar on November 2.