Arlen Thompson says the first show in a tour is always unpredictable, and that’s what makes it fun.
“You’re not 100 per cent sure how everything’s going to come off after being in the jam room so it’s always pretty exciting,” said the Nanaimo resident and drummer for rock group Wolf Parade. “It’s nice to see what the audience reaction’s going to be.”
On Jan. 24 those unknowns will be illuminated when Wolf Parade – Thompson, Duncan-area keyboardist Spencer Krug and Montreal-based guitarist Dan Boeckner – launch their world tour in support of their latest album, Thin Mind, at the Queen’s.
The album, the band’s fifth full-length, was recorded over four months at Risque Disque Records, a barn-turned-studio in the Cedar wilderness. Thompson said the setting gives the album an “Island vibe.”
“What we wanted to do … was just hunker down,” Thompson said. “The way we work best as a band is in really concentrated, creative bursts, so the studio really worked well for that.”
The band is back to its original lineup on Thin Mind, after multi-instrumentalist Dante DeCaro left the group in 2018. Thompson said becoming a trio again influenced the songs’ arrangements and sound, adding that “it’s a little more synth-heavy than we used to be.”
Thompson said recurring themes on the album include how communication technology has “overwhelmed” people’s ability to perceive reality, the dystopian side of politics and “the conflict of the human spirit” as people simultaneously rely on the natural world and continue to develop it.
“I think it’s just kind of dealing with the world we live in right now,” Thompson said of the album. “Our records tend to reflect where we’re at for the moment.”
He said that while their last record, Cry Cry Cry, dealt with the world in the wake of the 2016 U.S. election, Thin Mind is more of a reflection of issues of climate change and “how it’s almost impossible to escape being seeds of our own destruction.”
WHAT’S ON … Wolf Parade and guests perform at the Queen’s, 34 Victoria Cres., on Friday, Jan. 24 at 9 p.m. 19-plus show. Tickets $20, available at the venue, Fascinating Rhythm and online.