NUVO Interview: Hadji Baraka of Wolf Parade


It could be said that At Mount Zoomer, Wolf Parade’s second full-length collection of exuberant, synth-driven prog from the hinterlands, is imbued with divine spirits.

The Montreal foursome wrote most of the record in their own studio, which was assembled in a former church.

“We just set up a bunch of mics, some standard recording equipment and just jammed,” says keyboardist Hadji Baraka. “Most of us have been playing together so long that we can do that. And everyone in the band is so pigheaded that no one wants to write anyone else’s parts. The only way we really can write music is if everyone makes up their own shit on the spot.”

This went on for about a month, yielding several hours of tape the band members gradually reviewed.

“Some of it was funny, some of it was good and some of it was bad,” Baraka says. “Usually the things we kept were the things we found ourselves playing for hours at a time.”

The capricious sessions didn’t generate any radio singles. Reports say that the band warned their label, Sub Pop, about the lack of singles before handing over the product.

“I think the record’s totally catchy,” Baraka clarifies. “But singles have to be short, and we didn’t think any of the best songs were the short ones. Those are the weird ones.” He adds that the group plans on making a video for the 11-minute “Kissing the Beehive” saga that closes the disc.

Not that singles are really important. Besides being promoted by underground tastemakers like Sub Pop and extolled by the likes of Isaac Brock, Wolf Parade hail from a Montreal scene that includes Arcade Fire and Do Make Say Think. Baraka says that’s about the extent of their connection to the hotspot.

“In Montreal there’s collaboration and friendship, but I don’t think it’s affected the kind of music we’ve played,” Baraka says. “There’s pretty diverse music there. It’s not like Seattle in the ’90s where you can hear the sound and know where it comes from.”

Ultimately, it’s the myriad projects and backgrounds each member brings to the fold that makes Wolf Parade stand out in a musical tide that often mistakes eccentricity for genius.

“It’s the culmination of all our talents,” Baraka says. “It’s something none of us could produce on our own. We appreciate that combination.”