Let’s play The Belle Game
Posted on October 2, 2013
Pitchfork named The Belle Game’s song “River” as Best New Track. Another song, “Tradition” – was featured in the season premiere of Grey’s Anatomy. Both tracks are from the Vancouver-based band’s debut album, Ritual Tradition Habit.
The Belle Game embarks on its first full American tour this month that includes a stop at Chicago’s Empty Bottle Nov. 1.
The Belle Game is Andrea Lo (lead vocals), Adam Nanji (vocals and guitar), Katrina Jones (keyboards and backing vocals), Alex Andrew (rhythm guitar), and Rob Chursinoff (drums). Prior to their new album the band released two EPs – Inventing Letters (2009) and Sleep to Grow (2011).
The Dodgy recently spoke with Jones about the origins of The Belle Game, the tour, the new album, and band’s name.
Nanji, Andrew, and Lo all grew up together in Vancouver. Nanji attending McGill University in Montreal, where he met Jones.
“We did a weird, long distance Belle Game thing for a couple years until we all graduated,” Jones says. Then me and Alex moved to Vancouver.”
The Belle Name
“It actually came from Adam, Alex and Andrea – one of their friends is from Germany. At the beginning of the band we used to play around with a glockenspiel. He was over one day and played with one of them and was like ‘this is the bell game.’ The glockenspiel translation to English was bell game, or bell play.”
Ritual Tradition Habit
“The theme of the album is about all of us growing up and being older and learning what we like and don’t like about ourselves and about other people who we choose to keep in our lives. We came up with the title because there are all those little things that you do in your life that you keep or don’t keep or choose to accept or choose to reject or whatever it may be. That’s sort of the overarching theme of all the songs on the album because all the songs are about relationships or huge changes in our lives or a lot of personal stuff.”
Ritual, Tradition, and Habit are also the titles of three short songs placed at the beginning, the middle, and the end of the album.
“We just named those little tracks as a way to bookend that theme of what we were talking about.”
The Belle Game listens to…
Jones says the gang has been listening to the Canadian band Braids. “We just played a show with them and they released a record and we were listening to it on the way back from a festival we played.”
Jones says Lo is into bands like The Xx and “experimental-type stuff.” And drummer Rob Chursinoff is “more of a Neil Young type.”
“The band I’d want to go see very much is Deer Hunter. We saw them in Vancouver about two weeks ago and that’s how good they are I want to see them again.”
A Band Goyte Should Get To Know
The Belle Game opened up for Goyte in Vancouver during his tour following the success of the song “Somebody That I Used To Know.” Since it’s a duet with Kimbra, and she wasn’t there, I told Jones that either her or Lo should have come out to sing the part.
“He just kind of sang (her part) but crowd knew the song so well they sung it loud and carried him. It was a cool moment. But we absolutely would have done it. I think we even maybe contacted his management prior to that to ask if it was OK but we never heard back. He didn’t know us. I don’t blame him.”
The Belle Game met their tour mates, Bear Mountain, during the Canadian music event “Tracks on Tracks” in which about a dozen local bands boarded a train from Vancouver to Toronto with performance stops for gigs along the way. The final stop was the music festival NXNE.
“We’ve been close ever since,” Jones says of Bear Mountain.
Bear Mountain was in Chicago this summer to perform at Lollapalooza.
“They had a great time. They loved it. We hope to get some festivals like that.”
Adam Nanji and Katrina Jones are a couple.
The band lists “fine whiskey” and “bush parties” among its interests but Jones says they’re not a big party band. “No big drinkers or anything like that. For us it’s food. We love having a great meal. That’s more our thing. A nice dinner and go back to the hotel and go to bed.”
The band performs live as a six-piece. “We don’t have a permanent bass player. We bring a bass player on the road.”
Horns can be heard on some of the songs. Jones says they use session musicians in Vancouver and the saxophone on the new record is her playing.
The video for Ritual Tradition Habit’s “Wait Up For You” was filmed in a little Canadian town called Langley. It’s got a culty vibe and beautiful women. It was directed by Kheaven Lendowsky, who is directing a new Belle Game video for the track “River.”
“We’re keeping it under wraps because it’s something pretty exciting,” Jones says.
Jones says there’s a good chance they’ll perform in Europe for a few weeks in November and December.
“We’re looking forward to it.”
In addition to the Nov. 1 Empty Bottle concert, The Belle Game will play Cleveland Oct. 30, Detroit on Halloween(!) and Minneapolis Nov. 2. The Belle Game has a website, Facebook, and Twitter with more information.