Ohbijou become ‘Metal’ headsTwo years ago, following the success of their critically acclaimed breakthrough album, Beacons, Ohbijou was the likely successor to Canada’s indie pop throne. Well, Arcade Fire held fast to the seat by winning a Grammy and the Polaris Prize, but the six-piece Toronto-based collective has made another winning bid with its lushly orchestrated, sonically thrilling chamber pop follow-up, Metal Meets. WE spoke with lead singer/songwriter Casey Mecija over the phone before the band takes to the road for a lengthy tour, with a stop in Vancouver Nov. 19 at the Biltmore.
The song that kills me on this album is “Slygo.” The intensity and urgency and the refrain — it’s very emotional.
It’s a small town in Ireland that me and my bassist went to on tour just out of university. There’s this legend about this Queen buried on top of this huge mountain that overlooked the town and when we went there, we could see this huge pile of rocks on top of this mountain and it was this really beautiful thing. And in that time, also, they had this beautiful tree where people go and hang up charms and rosaries to commemorate people who have passed.
There’s also this unrelenting hope, like climbing your way out of something.
For sure. That song, and with a lot of our other songs, there’s a desire to communicate something darker and meatier, but also with hope intrinsically attached to it.
That might be the kind of record people need right now.
(Laughs) Yeah. It’s better to latch onto things that are more hopeful than not.
When you write songs are you coming from the observer standpoint or from the first-person?
I think from both. A lot of lyrics are inspired by what’s going on in my life and how I relate to the world outside. A lot of it begins with the proverbial “bedroom” writing. (Laughs) I’m by myself with a guitar and a piano and I usually write lyrics, melodies and all of the music at the same time. It’s this very isolated process to begin with, before entering the writing process with five other people, which transforms it into something completely different.
You travelled the world with Beacons. Did that change your relationship to your writing and with Canada?
We were able to travel abroad and play for different audiences in Japan and all of these crazy places. With travel came a desire to look at the world with more complexity and put that into the lyrics and use different lenses to write songs. We wanted to communicate emotions differently from previous records.
There’s so much texture throughout. Like in “Obsidian” there’s this beautiful moment that reminded me of birds calling out en masse.
We really tried to whip up unique environments for each song. We tried to practise restraint, because that’s really important for us as writers. It’s so easy for six of us to pile on top of each other, so being able to maintain an airiness about each song was really important... Sometimes we have these writing sessions and it’s like, well, we all have these melodies, let’s play them all at the same time! (Laughs)
You’ve got Metal Meets and Feist came out a month later with Metals. Should we arrange a throwdown between you guys?
(Laughs) I don’t think we would win!
Ohbijou play Nov. 19 at Biltmore, 7pm. $14 (Z, H, RC, TW).