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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Dan Snaith is a Northerner through and through.

Born and raised in Ontario, the fair-featured Canadian has named his musical ventures after the country - his previous moniker was Manitoba, after the province, and currently he uses Caribou, after the animal that roams the cold Canuck countryside.

But Caribou's latest album, "Andorra," sounds like it was forged during the Summer of Love on a sunny beach in Southern California.

Snaith, who records all of Caribou's music himself, took this departure from his previous, more electronically based albums for the sheer purpose of doing something new.

"I never really have a plan of how I want it to turn out," he said in a telephone interview, "but it's usually something that just excites me that I haven't done before."

What Snaith hadn't done before was make an album that was more structured and featured more real instrumentation.

"I just wanted to fit everything into a pop song format," he said. "That meant writing really strong melodies, arrangements, harmonies and counterpoints."

Snaith also incorporated many elements of his previous work into "Andorra" by adding samples and effects around the already written compositions, he said.

Electronic music was not Snaith's first calling to music, though. Growing up in Ontario, he followed a different musical path.

"I grew up in a little hippie town, and I was listening to Yes, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, and nasty '70s stuff when everyone else was listening to Nirvana," he said. "It didn't seem weird at all. Like, people my age, 14 or 15, were listening to all that kind of stuff."

He started playing piano and then drums in a "couple of crappy indie rock bands" before a friend introduced him to electronic music coming out of Britain and Detroit.

"It really changed my perspective for a couple reasons because before, I thought the more technically proficient, the more fancy the music, the better," Snaith said. "The idea of repetitive music or using repetition as a tool in music - I had a hard time wrapping my head around that at first."

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Once he did, he eventually recorded under the name of Manitoba but was threatened with a lawsuit for using the name by Richard "Handsome Dick" Manitoba, an American musician from the '70s.

Snaith changed the name to Caribou and hasn't looked back, recording while simultaneously earning a Ph.D. in mathematics.

"Andorra" is being hailed by fans and critics as Caribou's best work yet, possibly because it's easier to get a hold of Snaith's records. Caribou switched labels from Domino Records to Merge Records for this latest release.

"It was mainly a practical thing," Snaith said. "I had a great experience with Domino, but it was just a case of finding an independent label that could put the record out in small towns and not charge a fortune for it."

Also, the tour supporting "Andorra" is Caribou's most extensive. Snaith has never been to Florida, nor has he toured there with his three musicians who help him out on stage.

"A lot of Canadians retire to Florida and holiday there and whatnot, but I guess I don't have the perception Florida is all beaches," he said. "I've talked to a lot of bands that tour there, and they always say that it's the best month of the tour, the shows are really, really good and they have a great time in Florida. So yeah, I'm looking forward to it."

Caribou will be accompanied at Common Grounds on Saturday night by fellow Canadians Born Ruffians.

Snaith said it's been fantastic touring and hanging out with them. Their minimalist indie rock counters Caribou's layered, textured sound to create great shows where "one band is not the precursor to the next," he said.

Plus, despite their name, "they're the nicest guys you'll ever meet."

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