THE HIGH LLAMAS at Lee's Palace (529 Bloor West), Wednesday (February 25) $12. 416-532-1598.
Just so you know, Sean O'Hagan of the High Llamas is not the same Sean O'Hagan who writes for the Guardian and used to write for the New Music Express. "It's another Sean O'Hagan. I get that a lot. Once the BBC called me up to discuss Van Morrison's Astral Weeks, which the other Sean O'Hagan has written about quite a bit.
"Obviously I didn't do the interview, but I should check my bank account and see if they've deposited a cheque for it."
He's not a journalist, but he does have his fingers in a whole bunch of pies. Along with his High Llamas project, the former member of Microdisney is also a major contributor to Stereolab and was recently involved in an art project with French artist Jean Pierre Muller. It's called the Musical Painting and consists of 64 panels, 16 of which are moveable and hooked up to an electronic composition by O'Hagan that features a 24-track digital recording. When you move the panels you can remix the recording.
"We're working on number two with Dominic from the High Llamas. It'll have a slightly more sophisticated electronic system, using a program called Max, so you'll actually be able to access lighting and visual contact as well.
"The next one will be a triptych. The music is very unusual, and because you're not representing yourself onstage with a band but with a picture, you get completely different people listening to it and talking to you about it. It's like being in another world - very nice."
Back in the band world, the High Llamas' newest release was recorded chez O'Hagan, in different rooms around his house. The vocals were done in his young son's bedroom, which he didn't mind being turned into a studio.
"He's four and a half and runs around the house with a microphone saying, 'Daddy, I'm putting on a show now. '"
O'Hagen says that after a decade it was time for the band to take a new direction. So this is a more minimal offering than past indie electronic pop efforts, more acoustic and free of heavy rhythm.
"I dumped all the electronics paraphernalia because, although there was a time when it was very exciting, now it's part of the common musical language. Everyone's saying, 'Where's the electronics on your record now?'
"It might sound kind of elitist to say this, but I always try to find my own space when I write. Not having electronics was very important and not having rhythm, not being able to know where the backbeat falls in a song, was quite important. All these things give you more space. I'm always trying to make a record that doesn't sound like anyone else."