Aaron Coe managed to find time to chat to frontwoman Becky Ninkovic of Canadian dance-punk collective You Say Party! We Say Die! at their Cambridge show this week. See what she had to say about biker gangs, touring and the internet’s role in band success.
Aaron: Im sure you get asked the question, where does the band name come from more than any other question, did you pick that name so you could get a lot of hassle for it?
Becky: (Laughs) Well basically at the time of forming the band it wasn’t about being a legitimate band, it was more about getting together, making up songs and playing music for ourselves. So when it come the time of picking a band name, for a long time we picked really silly band names. We’d joke around and be different names all the time. One of them was “The Clap”. So when we picked YSP! WSD! it was around the time we did our first show, we had to pick one name so we stuck with YSP! WSD! It was kinda what we envisioned for our show before we played it. We’d come on and sand shout YSP! and our friends would shot back WSD! But we all individually come up with our own meanings but theres no one exact reason why we chose it, theres no universal deep meaning.
Aaron: Are you sick about being asked about it?
Becky: (Laughs) Yes. Its definitely the number one thing were asked. But its good that so many people asked because for a long time we didn’t know how to answer it.
Aaron: I suppose it gets you a little more attention?
Becky: Yeah, it really helped when we played at SXSW in Texas for the first time. It was the year of the weird band name and so people were coming to check us out just because we were one of the weird band names. I think the music world goes through these trends with names and genres. For us, when we were just starting to tour we didn’t realize just how much we were a part of that and so it really caught us unaware.
Aaron: I read that you formed from an old bike gang called the Smoking Spokes. Is there any truth in that or is it some sort of Wikipedia myth?
Becky: (Laughs) No it’s true. Do you have something called critical mass over here?
Aaron: I don’t know, I don’t think so.
Becky: Its like, when you take over the streets on your bikes, holding up traffic, kinda like a political protest on car traffic (Laughs). One of our first shows we made some patches and spraypainted on t shirts with “Smoking Spokes”. At this point it was like are we Smoking Spokes or are we YSP! WSD!, It didn’t even really matter, it more about the movement and the gathering together of music.
Aaron: Ive been looking at your tour schedule and you’ve been pretty busy since august, you’ve got some shows in Europe coming up, are you glad to be getting back to Canada just in time for Christmas?
Becky: Very glad to be home for Christmas. This is the longest tour we’ve ever attempted, usually we go for 2 months at a time so this is double that. Its not nearly as hard as i thought it would be, I’m also a lot healthier than i used to be. Ive quit a lot of things and i focus on nutrition a lot more and treat my body better. So for me the shows don’t feel monotonous anymore, so every night feel i have a chance to rock out with new people, dance and have a good time. So its definitely been a really exciting tour in that way for me, i think individually were all finding new ground on stage in our performances.
Aaron: What are your plans for next year, are you going to start writing or tour a little more?
Becky: Writing is going to be our priority. We are definitely going to keep touring, its going to be more spread out. We really want to put as much time and energy, blood sweat and tears into our third album. We don’t even know yet how its going to look but with our first and second albums as much as we are proud of them they were rushed pieces of work.
Aaron: Why were they rushed?
Becky: Different things, firstly we always had a really small budget and so time wise in the studio is always limited. So we’re trying to plan that out in advance so that we have a good budget to work with. And we had a tour sponsored by a national Canadian magazine and they put a lot of pressure on us so that it lined up with the tour. Like listening back to the songs now, theres little bits where we think “maybe we would change that now” and noticing little things where if we had a little bit more time to stew we would do things differently.
Aaron: Do you change the songs when you play them live then?
Becky: Yeah, they’re really different now, well not obviously different but definitely in the way I sing them, the way in which Derek plays his guitar and Devon’s adds more complicated things into the beat. Were all evolving because were playing night after night. Its the same with anything, practice makes perfect. Some of the songs were still really fresh at the time of recording, now night after night they’re becoming really refined.
Aaron:You’ve become pretty big on the internet, would you say that Myspace had a big part in that role?
Becky: For us definitely. The internet’s really great for bands, it allows us to have a much better connexion with our fans. Like before you would buy the bands vinyl, and then go to their show and by chance got them to sign it, that was a huge thrilling experience. Now you go onto Myspace or Facebook and leave comments and have the bands write you back. So thats really great.
Aaron: Did you expect that both your albums have done this well and that you’d be able to play all over Europe of the back of it?
Becky: No, not at all. I still have moments when I’m sitting in some bedroom and cant believe I’m here, its really cool.
Aaron: Is your first time in Cambridge?
Becky: No, we played here….(thinks). Last year, May. In the Soul Tree.
Aaron: So have you had a chance to look around Cambridge, how do you like it?
Becky: Yeah, Last time we were here we got to walk around a lot more. I like it.
Aaron: The tour is nearly over now, have you had a good time in the UK?
Becky: This is been our favorite time in the UK. Its our fifth time here and its leaps and bounds above all the rest, I’m even starting to speak with an English accent. (Laughs) I’m becoming English.