En concert le 18 septembre 2010 au Point FMR. 

What is it?! What ISN’T it?
It’s two (2) things!
It’s the name of Wolf Parade’s third LP, out June 29, 2010.
And it’s the catchy name of the World’s Fair held in Vancouver, summer of 1986, where five young boys first became friends, just outside the Cars of the Future exhibit, and made a SECRET PACT (whoa!) to meet up in the early 2000s (wha?)—somewhere cool, like Africa or even the moon by then—to form a rock band! ROCK BAND! With guitars and guitar solos and synthesizers! They would call it Wolf Parade! What a bodacious name!
It went like this:
Li’l Spencer Krug, who was getting super into neon colors at the time, seemed to know even at that tender age that he would never be cool, and so volunteered to play piano, and let the other boys have the more radical instruments.
“But if I play piano then I get to sing,” he said.
“Okay, but I want to sing too,” said wee Dan Boeckner. “I’ll sing with you like Goose and Maverick in Top Gun. Top Gun rules.” And then, as if to enunciate his point, he pulled from his K-Way pouch a Lego fighter jet that was really well-assembled.
“I get guitar!” exclaimed Dante DeCaro, the youngest.
“No,” replied Dan, “I do. I get guitar.”
“But I’ll get really good at it!” Dante yelled up.
“Shut up,” said Dan, “You’re just little.”
In the end it was decided both boys would get to play guitar, on the condition that between then and the 2000s, Dante would practice “lots of wicked solos.”
The remaining two, Arlen Thompson and Hadji Bakara, used a nearby game of Whack-a-Future-Mole to decide who would make the better drummer. Strapping young Arlen won easily, and then just continued to lick his rocket pop with a devil-may-care attitude. But Hadji didn’t lose heart.
“I’ll just do cool sounds with a computer,” he said.
“Yeah, right,” replied everyone, “Music on a COMPUTER. As if you could ever even GET a computer.”
EXPO 86! The LP!
Why was it made? WHY NOT!
How was it made?
It was made QUICKLY. The band started writing songs in November, 2009, and recorded and mixed them at Montreal’s Hotel2Tango, with Howard Bilerman, in late February and early March of 2010. “BANG IT OUT!” they said over and over, until it was done. Why such stress-ness for quickness? Because the first album, Apologies to the Queen Mary, made and released in 2005, took approximately 50 years to complete. You see, everything went real slow for the first one, because Dante DeCaro never showed up. He messed up the pact, screwed up the timing, and was still busy with some other band… Hot… Hot something. So the other four guys had to make due without him, and in the end it all worked out okay, but it took FOREVER.
Then, finally, Dante showed up. They got him up to speed by playing some live shows, and then in the summer of 2007 the five little pact-makers got down to work on their second LP, At Mount Zoomer. However, forgetting that they weren’t SAVVY (smart), they decided to record and produce it themselves, in their own homemade studio, and consequently spent almost 100 years finishing it (100 YEARS!).
So for this 3rd record, still (STILL!) on Sub Pop, Wolf Parade wanted to move fast. They made a plan: “If we take a one year hiatus, “ they said, “Then all our musical ideas will get crammed and swollen up in our brain-holders, so that when we start jamming again, after such a long time, we can LITERALLY just PUKE THE SONGS RIGHT OUT OF OUR HEADS, RIGHT ONTO OUR INSTRUMENTS!” Everyone clapped and nodded in agreement. “And also,” they said, “by that time, people will have ALMOST forgotten about us, so we’ll have no choice but to puke QUICKLY! HOORAY!”
The groundwork had been laid. They took a year off and their brains swelled up. But there was one snag—Hadji Bakara’s brain got so big that he accidentally got accepted into the University of Chicago to pursue a DOCTORATE DEGREE in English Literature. What a DRAAAAAG. It turned out that he wouldn’t be able to play any shows with them later in the year, and so in the end, he didn’t play on the record, either.
The remaining four were still able to make the fast record they wanted. In fact, everyone added a small synthesizer to what they already did and poked at it intermittently in attempts to make up for Hadji’s absence, and it seemed to work not bad. They decided to call the new record EXPO 86, in remembrance of the pact that all five of them had made so long ago, back when they were less than 10 years old, and to honor the promise’s short, but fun, realization.
How does it sound?!
Local man-about-town and reputable tastemaker “Saturday Night” Jones can be quoted as saying the new Wolf Parade record, “has a rad-ness,” and is also rumored to have told the band, “good job,” via email. And it’s not just him. Various stoppers-by at the studio, as well as staff, were heard contemplating how the record is, “sort of like INXS, but also, and mostly, not like INXS at all.” Engineer / producer Howard Bilerman says the band was, “well-organized.” Furthermore, one member of the band has talked at length about how the songs remind him of the cartoon musical notes that float playfully from speakers in Archie comics.
Still unclear as to what this thing sounds like?
Perhaps this completely true anecdote will help clarify:
In an effort to realize a “music video for every song” sort of concept, the band sent rough mixes to eleven different video directors, all of whom varied in style, genre, and professional circle. Each director was given just one of the eleven songs on the album. However, upon receiving the various treatments back in response, the band was surprised to discover that, though every director was given a different song, each video contained a similar, if not identical scene. Each filmmaker wanted the bulk of the video to feature a red Ferrari speeding through a dry, sunny desert, creating great billows of dust, with the driver having his/her right hand on the wheel and the other hand jutting out the window giving the “middle finger” to the camera and the surrounding world. Sometimes the treatment would use a Corvette, not a Ferrari, maybe black, maybe red. Sometimes the driver would be a man, sometimes a woman, and sometimes a bottle of whisky would be lying on the passenger seat. But that’s about as far as the variations went. In each and every treatment the same three images dominated the screen: a fast car, the desert, and the middle finger.
When the band asked each director why having such a scene in the video was so important, each one answered pretty much the same: “It’s what the music WANTS.”
The band was perplexed, and disappointed, really, and in the end abandoned their “music video for every song” idea. They would, in all probability, just have a friend make a video for them a year or more after the record was released, as per usual. But hey, at least they had something to write in their bio.
EXPO 86!
—Steve Martin