Broken Social Scene

Broken Social Scene is made up of a few core members, with the rest as guest collaborators. (Photo: Norman Wong)

Broken Social Scene and The Belle Game, 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 16, The State Theatre of Ithaca.

Broken Social Scene took a break from collaborative music — a gap of seven years between the newest album and the previous — and the group is back with vigor.

Broken Social Scene is a music collective rather than a band, thriving on collaboration and jam sessions between a variety of artists. The collective’s latest album, Hug of Thunder, was just released this past July, after the core members decided to reconvene again.

While the prospect of a new record looked bleak for fans, core member Brendan Canning said he never saw the band officially breaking up after the 2010 album, Forgiveness Rock Record

“I wouldn’t want [Forgiveness Rock Record] to be our final word,” Canning said. “That wasn’t the easiest album to make. It was good to come back with the way we have come back, with a much more united crew. …. We’ve had some regular life shit sort of swept into your trajectory and aura, and it just changes focus for you.”

Taking a break allowed the collective to clear the creative air. Members worked on other projects and rolled through the life grinds of births, deaths and marriages. Working too much with Broken Social Scene began to feel like staying in high school for too long, Canning said. The group moved on, only to be pulled back in. 

“I think eventually you have to go out and experience certain things that don’t include your bandmates — the people you spend an unhealthy amount of time with,” Canning said. “You’re spending your own time together a lot of time. It’s nice to refocus the lens and get a much-needed perspective as to why you still want to do it.”

With the release of Hug of Thunder, the collective went back to the studio and jammed. A total of 18 musicians are credited on the album, including Leslie Feist, who hadn’t made a lead-vocal appearance on a Broken Social Scene album since 2006. 

Influences of the band range across different disciplines and mediums. One day it may be a film, the next a W.C. Handy piece — whatever resonates with the current group, and whatever comes out of the collective’s instruments.

“We just get around, start making some noise. Just some people in a room, playing music,” Canning said. “We just kind of let the music take over and do what it does. Every story is different with this band. One song can have a very different beginning with another song.” •

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