Wolf ParadeEXPAND
Wolf Parade
Photo by Shane McCauley

Wolf Parade's Arlen Thompson on a Shared History With Arcade Fire

Canadian indie-rock band Wolf Parade is now serving as an opener for Arcade Fire, but the two bands go way back. Not only are both influenced by the art rock of the Talking Heads, they each started in Montreal at the turn of the millennium. And Wolf Parade's first-ever gig was a shared bill with Arcade Fire. Even more incestuous is that Wolf Parade drummer Arlen Thompson played on the Arcade Fire single "Wake Up."

"I used to live across the street from the loft Arcade Fire lived in," Thompson reminisces. "They were in between drummers and they approached me. It was a short, one-day session. That was a lot of fun and the song became an amazing anthem."

Wolf Parade has its own quirky appeal that will make it worth getting to the Watsco Center early this Saturday. The band formed in 2003 when Thompson was walking down a Montreal street and ran into guitarist Dan Boeckner whom from youth in Vancouver. "Dan was talking about how he and Spencer [Krug, the keyboardist] were writing songs together and they were going to play a show, but they needed a drummer. We had two rehearsals, played that first show and found magic."

Over five years, they put out three well received, eclectic records: 2005's Apologies to the Queen Mary, 2008's At Mount Zoomer, and 2010's Expo 86. In 2011, though, they had decided to call it quits. "By the time we toured that last record, it wasn't as fun," Thompson says, "We realized if we pushed it and did this as a job we would end up totally hating each other. We all had side projects going on, so we thought if we stopped Wolf Parade then, maybe there would be room to come back to it."

Last year that room opened up. Thompson was back in his hometown of Vancouver, where his trumpeter father once encouraged him to play drums, (since every band needs a drummer) when he learned Krug and multi-instrumentalist Dante DeCaro were also living nearby. "We thought it was a good idea to get back together. We hung out, talked out some issues, and played some music. We sounded terrible that first time, but it felt good, so we started writing new songs."

You'll be able to hear those new songs on their LP Cry Cry Cry, which is scheduled to be released October 6. The two singles that already have been released in "You're Dreaming" and "Valley Boy" have a catchiness that will attract new listeners. "Every one of our albums is a response to the last album we made. We look at what we didn't like with the last one and work on it. Expo 86 we tried to get to sound live, like one of our shows. This one, we wanted more lush, so we expanded with horns and synthesizers. Lyrically we were informed by what was happening in America politically."

The band is acclimating to larger crowds as  Arcade Fire's opener. "We've played festivals, but it's our first time being at arena shows," Thompson adds. "We try to make our own little space and approach it like we're playing in a basement somewhere."

While Thompson is happy with Wolf Parade's loyal and limited audience, he respects and admires the fan base of his friends in Arcade Fire. "Arcade Fire's evolution has been amazing," he says. "I saw them play when they were three or four people at an art gallery in 2001 with 20 people watching. Now they're playing stadiums."

Arcade Fire: Infinite Content 2017. With Wolf Parade. 8 p.m. Saturday, September 23, at the University of Miami Watsco Center, 1245 Dauer Dr., Coral Gables; 305-284-8244; watscocenter.com. Tickets cost $31 to $105 via ticketmaster.com.

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