Brother Octopus a weird band in a weird town

Brother Octopus GigCity EdmontonBrother Octopus may claim to be an actual octopus, but his – its – music is completely and utterly human.

Scan their lyrics for cephalopodic references. There aren’t any.

They write songs that deal with childhood: “Do you remember when the floor was lava, only the sofa was safe to travel?” With the future: “If you wanna have friends, you’re gonna have to buy a jetpack, because you’ll never be able to make friends if you don’t have a jetpack.” With rebels: “We are the young and restless, so immature like children.”

It’s experimental. The latest concept album Connected Through Corals features a different local lead singer on every track (the guest list includes Two Bears North, A Gentlemen’s Pact and Jake Ian). There are songs about life, songs about death, deep thoughts mixed loosely with absurd nothings, framed in clever chord progressions and a warm meld of electronic rhythms and real musicians playing real instruments. Vocals range from raspy singing to that peculiar singsong rapping style that white guys have started doing, like Ed Sheeran and Twenty One Pilots. Throw in comparisons to Flaming Lips and the Barenaked Ladies while we’re at it, if comparisons must be made.

It’s a big improvement over Octopus’s last album, Sea of Champions, whose concept was to record each song in a different studio.

In a recent interview over the aqua-phone, Brother Octopus (above, red hat) explains the dearth of oceanic themes in his music, “During my time on Earth I find it infinitely more interesting on the surface than under the sea. Under the sea is really dark. Out here it’s nice and bright, lots of things going on.”

Brother Octopus GigCity EdmontonThis is like interviewing Oderus Urungus from GWAR (who stayed in character the entire time; a couple of years later he did an interview as his real self, which was more interesting; then he died of a heroin overdose) – a band that was bent on world domination. It’s not clear what Brother Octopus wants. Ask it when the band plays its CD release show at the Almanac on Saturday.

“It’s not a gimmick,” the musical mollusca says. “It’s my identity.”

Octopus says he was born in the Pacific Ocean, crawled onto land (all the way to Edmonton, apparently) and took on human form, save for a tendency for vestigial tentacle fingers that sometimes fly off into the crowd while he’s performing. You can keep them as souvenirs. ‘Cause they grow back.

Yup, it’s yet another weird band from a weird city.

“Weird is good, in my opinion,” Octopus says. “Obviously we are weird. When you can be weird and also capture something in the music, it says a lot as well. It’s mysterious.”

Does Edmonton breed such musical monstrosities?

“Maybe people are just getting bored with the same old stuff. Maybe they want to do something new and we have a lot of creative people in the city as well, and that has a lot of do with it. You get bored in the winter. What else are you going to do?”

Become an Octopus that doesn’t suck, of course!

All proceeds from CD sales at Saturday’s show will be donated to the Canadian Red Cross to help Fort McMurray fire victims.