Before Wolf Parade's last show ahead of an indefinite hiatus, singer and keyboard player Spencer Krug spoke to The Globe in Vancouver as he walked down the city's Main Street for Monday evening's show. It was Krug's only interview about the band's history and uncertain future.
So, the end: for now and a long time, indefinite hiatus - or the end for good?
There are no future plans. This is a lot more of a break than what would have been between the albums that already exist. And those breaks, we always had plans when we would get back together and make the next record. Right now we have no plans of when we'll get back together.
This could be the last show. We're not so naive to think it couldn't be. We're also not so naive to be so black-and-white as to say it definitely is our last show, you know?
It was never really said, after Toronto last year, why an indefinite hiatus. There were one or two bits about the other projects, but those have always been on the go.
We're just trying to be transparent and say, "We're going to stop playing music together right now because we all have other things we want to do." We all agree that if Wolf Parade were to make another record - say like this fall, hypothetically - that it would be kind of [crappy] All of our hearts are, at least creatively, they're split into different spaces right now, that Wolf Parade is not in.
How do you mean, different creative spaces?
Wolf Parade has never been a laboratory for music in the same way Sunset Rubdown was for me, or that Moonface is for me, or that Handsome Furs is for Dan.
Wolf Parade, when we started the first record, was a process of discovery, discovering what the band sounded like, what we were good at. In the first couple years it became very obvious what we were good at. What came out the best and most natural, especially live, was just playing rock and roll, for the lack of a better term. It's rock music. You end up wanting to try new things, and experiment, and branch out, and I do, and Dan does, and Wolf Parade is not the place for us to do that, for now. It might be in the future.
There doesn't seem to have been discord, even if there are the different creative directions.
We love each other like brothers. We're not doing this because there's any bad blood or anything but, creatively, it feels like it's time to stop. Some days you look around and you're like, "Why are we quitting?" But we are. But that doesn't mean, like I said, it's not a definitive ending, tonight.
How do you feel about where Wolf Parade ended up? The reviews were always good but the records got less and less attention, and they never cracked through commercially, not to be too crass.
[Laughs.]What you're saying is how do I feel about ours being a steady downhill slope versus a steady uphill slope?
Kind of. I mean, in terms of the material, I don't see it that way, but critics put Queen Mary way up above everything else. Pitchfork readers voted Expo 86 in the top 10 most underrated for last year.
I didn't know that.
It's fine, it's true, it's reality. I mean, commercially, Wolf Parade plateaued early on, and stayed on the same level, in terms of making a living of it. And where we plateaued is a very comfortable, nice place to be, with enough respect for each other and for our label and people who like our music that we could keep putting out records and tour and pay rent but still not be under heavy scrutiny. No one's watching us too closely. No one cares that much about Wolf Parade.
We were incredibly lucky, to be at that place where we could pay rent without - I don't know, it's hard to put into words - without playing the game the way that we could have, I guess. Maybe we couldn't have, I don't know, we never tried. You have to want it. There's a series of channels you have to go though, games that you have to play, and you have to be good at it, and savvy. And I don't know how savvy we are, at least not as a collective.
What about the side projects, then, which I guess are now main projects?
I have lots of plans for Moonface this year and Dan has lots of plans for Handsome Furs. That as much as anything else is why Wolf Parade needs to step back. It goes back to that thing we were just talking about. Are we going to stay at this level or try to go to an Arcade Fire-type level? To do that, basically, Handsome Furs, Sunset Rubdown, Moonface, they've all got to get put on a permanent backburner. As much as anything, Dan and I don't want to, no one wants to give up their other interests. Wolf Parade could maybe do better if we put the things aside, but we don't want to. I haven't really talked about it, or thought about it, until you started asking me.
Was Vancouver picked specifically for the last-show-for-now? The band's not exactly from here but it's a kind-of centre of friends and family. You plan a big blowout?
There's a reason we're doing this here tonight, it's not lost on us that we hail from B.C. I don't know the plans yet. We'll just play the songs we like the most. There are some songs that we know people want to hear and love but they never really work live.
Grounds for Divorce, an old one. We used to play it live but something happened, I can't really remember, some instrumentation switched or a technical reality made that song really difficult to pull off and it started sounding like [crap] Some songs fall by the wayside and then one day you realize you haven't played it in two years. It's nice to let songs float away, up into wherever, song heaven, where they go.
Are you happy for Arcade Fire's success?
Of course we are. I don't want to talk too much about Arcade Fire. They're our friends, and I'm totally happy for their success. They're all doing exactly what they want to be doing, and they're incredibly good at it. I don't consider Wolf Parade and Arcade Fire to be, they're barely comparable in my mind. They might have started off in the same place but we quickly went to two different places.
And Moonface, the solo record. [To be released in Aug. 2.]What's it like? You played a couple shows, Brooklyn and Montreal, and have the summer tour.
It's great. It's really exciting. It's new. And it's super scary. I was more nervous for the first Moonface show, which was in front of maybe 80 people, than I'd been for years. It's fun to be nervous again. Moonface is going to be a lot of different things over the next couple years. A lot of different collaborations. I think that nervousness and excitement will be sustained. That's what interests me right now, to keep it fresh, always.
This interview has been condensed and edited.