The Varsity recently had the opportunity to sit down with two members of the Juno award-winning Toronto supergroup Broken Social Scene — Justin Peroff and Sam Goldberg Jr. — right before they embarked on their latest tour in support of their February 15 EP, Let’s Try The After (Vol.1).
Peroff has been a member of Broken Social Scene since their 2001 debut album, working predominantly as the group’s lead drummer. Sam Goldberg Jr. joined the band a guitarist in 2007 and has remained a permanent fixture in the group ever since. Their last album was Hug of Thunder, released in 2017 after a seven-year hiatus.
The Varsity: How have the last few months been since you got off the Hug of Thunder tour?
Justin Peroff: Sammy and I were actually just in the studio yesterday with a songwriter called Kelly Healey. Sammy and Brendan [Canning] started writing… and fleshed out some tunes and brought me in on the project. And then we finally tracked drums on four tracks. So that’s nice. I think it’s important to keep creating during the time that you’re not creating with your main hub. I think it allows us to approach things with a fresher perspective the next time around when we’re to get together as a group.
Sam Goldberg Jr.: I’m always working on projects at home: the Kelly Healey thing, my own music. But it’s just nice to know that we don’t have to go to the airport. We don’t have to get on a bus. You don’t have to be surrounded by a thousand people. I mean that stuff is great, but after a while it’s just nice to be hunkered down, be in your own space, and play with your animals. It’s nice to get cozy.
TV: What were fan reactions like to the band reuniting? The pre-tour hype?
SGJ: There’s always been a BSS fanbase. There’s always been excitement for the band when a new album comes out. I don’t personally follow many reviews and stuff like that, but you could definitely sense the excitement when we started playing again, getting on the road.
JP: I think that’s a good question. Compared to any of the previous albums, there was more of an anticipation because we had taken so much time off. So I feel like I was a little more nervous this time. First of all, we’re in an environment where indie rock is not necessarily carrying that torch anymore. You know we have the Lil Uzi Verts of the world and Juice WRLDs, and a lot of people making emo-rap. That’s kind of where the youth are. And we’re veterans now. We’re almost like a legacy act.
TV: You guys have been around right at the rise and fall of CDs, vinyls, and MP3s. Now the big thing is streaming — how do new ways of consuming music affect you as a band?
SGJ: I’m an Apple guy. Everyone’s been telling me to get on Spotify. I like the fact that I can listen to music just like [that]. I open my eyes in the morning. I have a really nice sound system. I push a button. I have my playlists that I have created or whatever I want to listen to. I mean, I love how user-friendly and quick you can get to something. But also, I love putting a record on my turntable and listening to that. But as for releasing music? It’s hard to know how to release music these days, it’s always changing.
JP: So we had to reset a lot of things this time around. We reset our management team. We hired a social media team for the first time and we really kept in mind exactly what you were saying. We kept in mind that this is a different landscape that we’re navigating. We are old men navigating — I say that tongue-in-cheek — we’re an older band navigating in a very sort of modern, new landscape for us. Our management company is amazing, we’re with Red Light. At first when we were touring there were certain things that needed to come out that were more like ‘assets’ but now that we’re in an off-record cycle… we still want to engage with our fans. Kevin [Drew] is doing all of our social media engagement. But in terms of how I consume music? I have cassettes, I have vinyl, I have a Spotify account, I have a TIDAL account.
TV: What are some new acts you guys are listening to?
JP: I’m on a big emo-rap phase right now. I’ve been listening to the new Trippie Redd mixtape, A Love Letter To You 3. I’m listening to a lot of classical music as well. So I’ll start my day with a classical playlist and then as I head into the day, I’ll listen to that Carters album.
SGJ: Kurt Vile, his new record [or] that Cat Power record. I really like that new A Place to Bury Strangers record. I think that guy is a master at production and weird, super dark sounds.
TV: What is it like still getting accolades for ‘old’ records? The newest one was, I believe, the Polaris Heritage Prize Fan Vote?
JP: I don’t know what to say. I think my life’s a trip. I don’t know man, I’m grateful. I love that album and I love that people still listen to it and consider it a classic. I’m very flattered and I’m very proud.
TV: What songs or recordings are you guys most proud of? Which do you have fond memories of?
JP: If I can continue to riff on You Forgot It, [then] You Forgot It In People and the self-titled album were recorded at Stars and Suns, which is a studio that doesn’t exist anymore in Toronto. But the producer and owner of that studio, David Newfeld, is out in Trenton, Ontario now. I believe he still calls it Stars and Suns. But when we were recording those two albums, the studio environment was very unhealthy. There were no windows, no circulation, no air conditioning. I don’t even know if there was any heat? There must have been heat. But it was just this really bizarre, kind of half-made space.
SGJ: I was making a record at the same time, with David Newfeld, at the same studio. I had a band called Hawaii with my girlfriend at the time. And — similar experience — but it’s funny because these guys would do sessions and I would go in and hear David talking about his experience: “God its so hard! There’s so many of them!” I also remember when you guys were deciding how to pay David at the end of You Forgot It. They were saying he would get a percentage of the songs or an overall sum. I would hear about this after they left which is weird [because] I wasn’t in the band.
TV: How does the release of a full EP differ to full-length projects? Is there less pressure as a band when promoting and touring a shorter work?
JP: Well, since this first EP is “volume 1” of what will clearly be more, the standard type of marketing and touring apply. Even if we were releasing only one shorter work to promote and tour, we wouldn’t ‘phone it in.’ Present climate of the music industry requires constant presence, materials, and assets to stay in the game.
TV: You guys going to be like the Rolling Stones at 70 years old?
SGJ: I hope so!
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.