For those of us who were devastated by the break-up of Broken Social Scene — rejoice! Former BSS founder Brendan Canning has revived his seminal '90s band Cookie Duster. But this time around, they’ve added Jeen O’Brien and Matt Murphy to the mix, which makes for a rollicking and energetic (sort-of) debut album: When Flying Was Easy.
Though the Toronto-based group aren’t currently sporting cookie dusters, we’ll forgive them in light of their danceable and hook-heavy tunes. Here, Canning talks about his BSS days, ‘90s pop music, and the latest Cookie Duster record.
So tell me about why you decided to get the Cookie Duster gang back together?
We always were making music - it was just we never really stopped. I was always working on it for the past few years, if there was a little break with Broken [Social Scene], I would work on Cookie Duster stuff, and other stuff too.
I know some of Cookie Duster’s old albums are really instrumental. How is this time around going to be different?
It may have the same name but it doesn’t bear much resemblance to what it was. We weren’t working with Jeen O’Brien then or Matt Murphy. It’s a different vibe. It’s funny, I don’t really think of it as a new lineup. I’ve known Jeen for five years now, and this album was five years in the making. Matt I’ve known longer than that from playing soccer. It’s new to the world, so that’s one thing. There is no other Cookie Duster album, like I don’t even count that album.
How would you describe the new sound?
I consider this the debut album. Yeah, we released that other one, but this is ultimately a debut record of what I feel Cookie Duster is. A lot of us cut our teeth in the ‘90s, so there’s definitely some ‘90s guitar anthems. I used to like a lot of ‘90s dance music too. I think it’s all kind of in there.
How does it compare to playing with Broken Social Scene?
It’s just a different ball game. My life with BSS is very different from my life making a Cookie Duster record. Cookie Duster isn’t a touring entity right now - a lot of what I relate to broken social scene is a large group of people flying from city to city or bussing from city to city. When you’re working on something like Broken Social Scene, there’s certain pressure that come with being in a band. This is relatively pressure free, you know, cause we’re working on songs, and finally you’ve got 12 songs that we’re all happy with and make a cohesive body of work.
That said, do you have more freedom creatively?
It’s not like I didn’t have freedom with BSS, but a lot of the time there was a lot of people in the room working on music. With Cookie Duster, there’s like a maximum of three people on a track.
Any possibility of a Cookie Duster tour?
I think we’ll start with some shows in the fall, October or November, and see how we like playing the tunes live and take it from there. You just never know what the lifespan of a record is going to be. It could be all of a sudden, "Hey, we really want you guys to tour." You just have no idea what the future holds for you sometimes.