Led by the husband-and-wife team of David and Meredith Metcalf, L.A.'s Bodies of Water make gospel- and Tropicalia-infused epics with lots of harmonic wailing (think Arcade Fire on uppers). Ahead of their El Mocambo date, chief songwriter David reveals the hidden truths behind the new record, dishwashing and riders. Saturday (August 9). $10.50. 416-777-1777.
I enjoyed reading your employment history on the website: actor, meat cutter, graphic designer, warehouse shipper, dishwasher. Is being in a band your favourite job so far?
I'd have to say it is right up there with dishwashing. I really liked washing dishes, because I could be reflective and let my mind wander for hours at a time and still be getting work done - that's always appealing to me. But there were these auxiliary things I had to do, like empty the fat vat. It weighed, like, 75 pounds, and I'd end up with chicken grease all over me.
The new record seems a little more introspective than your first.
The first record has this Old Testament grandeur to it that doesn't really figure on the second one. It's less dramatically expansive, and the imagery is more mundane. A lot of the songs are about people in the natural world and what it means to be a person in the world.
Both you and Meredith are Christian. How does your spirituality influence your music?
Naturally, it figures into what we are doing. But since we are playing with different people who aren't Christian or whatever, it's not a unanimous aspect of the group. We are not dogmatic people - we don't put a premium on advertising our faith. A friend of Jamie's (the drummer) refuses to believe that there's any spiritual content to any of our songs, and other people see it everywhere, even in songs that in my mind don't have much to do with that. I guess that's testament to how ambiguous we are.
Is it true that you ended up with Death Cab for Cutie's rider at a show?
Yes and no. We have the same booking agent as them, and they have a standard rider. It's kind of ridiculous - you ask for everything, knowing that most places aren't going to give it to you. One time, we were talking to this stage manager who told us about a band that asked for a puppy in the dressing room. It just so happened she had a friend with a baby bulldog, and they put it in the dressing room for them. I think cavorting with a puppy would put you in a really good state of mind before you go on. Anyhow, the moral of the story is, you should go ahead and ask for it because you never know!
So what's the best alternative to a puppy you've found to help you before a show?
Irish coffee. You combine an upper and downer. It's really nice: you're relaxed and yet alert. It's the best kind of substance cocktail to put into yourself before you play - the kind of abuse your body needs.