By Stuart Ross
Toronto indie-rockers Dinosaur Bones are leading off the bill tonight at the Beat Kitchen, up in the Belmont Corridor. Making lyrically-driven dark pop music with big drums for over five years now, the quintent are currently on tour in support of this year’s Shaky Dream, out on Dine Alone Records.
We chatted with front man Ben Fox about the energy of their live shows, the making of the record and thoughts on Chicago and Toronto.
WCR: Welcome back to the city. Where else have you played here? When you think of Chicago, what comes to mind?
We've played a few venues. Twice at Schubas, once at Beauty Bar (that one was a bit weird), and once before at Beat Kitchen.
When I think of Chicago I think of Sammy Sosa, Family Matters, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, Reckless Records....lots of good stuff.
One of your fans tweeted that you are “way too dirty live.”
When we write and record music, we do our best to exercise a certain amount of restraint, and I think that's what gives some of our recordings a mellow or subdued vibe. So I think people are sometimes a little surprised (hopefully for the best) when they hear us live, the songs reanimated with a little sweat on them.
John Congleton (The Walkmen, Explosions in the Sky) produced Shaky Dream. What was your goal for the record and what was it like working with John?
We had a few specific goals in mind going into it. An important goal was that we wanted an open mind and to really let ourselves follow ideas through, to see what would happen. We didn't want to make a two-dimensional album or settle into just one palate of sounds.
If one song was developing in a way that was radically different from the rest, we'd embrace that, rather than try to reign it in.
We knew that John was the kind of producer who could totally get behind that. He's way more interested in making creative and interesting records than glossy pop records, so we were on the same page from the get go. Making Shaky Dream was a great experience.
I find it to be a pretty striking image. It's nostalgic, it's sentimental, it's a bit unsettling. There are a few themes running through the record that I think the clowns parallel.
“Pacifist in Camouflage” is a standout on the disc. What’s that song mean to you?
It’s essentially about trying to reach through to someone who doesn’t want to be reached. We’ve all got fronts we put up and carry around with us and hide behind. The song’s about the frustration of feeling that artificial distance with someone you thought you were close to.
As you guys are from Toronto, please tell us something we don’t know about Rob Ford…
He was the world's shittiest mayor loooooong before this crack business.