By Jim Schutze
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When deciding what to name their trio, Warren Spicer, Matt Woodley and Nic Basque came up with a tag that they, at the time, felt was relatively innocuous and meaningless moniker as it pertained to their collective future.
In short: Deciding on Plants & Animals wasn't exactly an earth-shattering experience for the Montreal-based, hard-to-define rockers.
"One day, Woody, Nic and I were just sitting around, trying to figure out what to call ourselves, and Plants & Animals kept coming around," says Spicer in his proper Canadian accent. "We were just like, 'OK, let's just go with that."
But it works, you see: The growth of Plants & Animals has been, well, organic.
The band's recently released second album, La La Land, is an ambitious record that serves to group the band with fellow north-of-the-border acts that like to bust out some chamber-rock, such as Arcade Fire and Broken Social Scene. It's a new direction for the band, which has previously dealt in mostly acoustic, more pastoral arrangements. But, as Spicer explains, the new album's louder, more electrified sonic direction was rather easy to come by.
"It's the result of what we've been doing for the past two years," he says. "Before [2008's] Parc Avenue, we weren't a touring band, we were just dudes living in Montreal, trying to figure out how to make a record. It really wasn't a major decision to make a big rock record."
Adding to the band's more celebratory sound, the group placed a greater emphasis on its lyrical and thematic focus this time around. Like seemingly everything else with the band, Spicer describes this alteration as the direct result of changing circumstances and the longtime friends adapting accordingly to those trends.
"A lot of the record comes from looking out of a van window and driving around North America," he says. "Seeing what we were able to see, I felt we needed to do something more specific, less nebulous than the first record."
It was just the natural next step, Spicer explains with the same ease he uses when describing all things involved in his band's efforts. Like when he describes how he knew when to quit his day job and do the band thing full time—it was just when "everything started to look serious," he says.
Really, the only area for the band where it seems that all isn't so natural and understandable is when it comes time to decide what to do with the pressures that come with the buzz and hype surrounding a band on the rise.
"For this record, I didn't feel any pressure until after it was released," Spicer says. "We didn't become superstars from the first record. Some people heard it, and liked it, and it got around. Now, I feel like more people are going to hear this one."
While Spicer shows that all isn't perfectly symmetrical in Plants & Animals' world, it doesn't take long for him to find perspective and quickly cut to the core of what has become a fully evolved reality, for both him and the rest of his band.
Says Spicer: "This has all become more real. This is what I do now."