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Said The Whale wraps up arts fest

Tyler Bancroft insists it looks much worse than it is. The founder of the Vancouver-based indie rock band, Said The Whale, is referring to his group's touring schedule that's published online.

Tyler Bancroft insists it looks much worse than it is.

The founder of the Vancouver-based indie rock band, Said The Whale, is referring to his group's touring schedule that's published online.

Besides its all-ages show in Port Moody on Saturday to wrap up the city's 14th annual Festival of the Arts, the quintet has six other dates this month - all in the United States, where the band is trying to make it big.

Last month, it had 20 gigs in 30 days, spreading its catchy, toe-tapping tunes from Seattle to Montreal.Add that to the other 30-plus shows they've played so far this year, including 10 concerts in England and Scotland in May.

"I think 2011 has been the most intense year that we've ever had," Bancroft said by phone in Calgary last week. "It's a lot of miles but I think the only way a band can be successful right now is to tour your butts off."

The pace is typical for them.

Since Said The Whale formed in 2007, it has criss-crossed Canada dozens of times, doubled-up with some cool acts along the way (Tokyo Police Club, Mother Mother and The Zolas, to name a few) and performed at high-profile events like Live at Squamish (2010 and '11) and on Parliament Hill for a nationally televised party on July 1, 2009.

The band - made up of Bancroft; co-founder Ben Worcester (also a songwriter); bassist Nathan Shaw; drummer Spencer Schoening; and keyboardist Jaycelyn Brown - does the grind across Canada and the United States in a customized 15-passenger van "that's quite comfy for long-distance trips," Bancroft said, adding they rest for the night in hotels or at relatives' homes across Canada.

But it's a different story in the U.S. "where we've only just started to make a dent," Bancroft said, noting the band dips into the red when it ventures down south. "We're back to square one there so it's a total loss financially."

This year, its attempt to crack into the largest market in the world was documented by CBC-TV in Winning America when the band travelled to Austin, TX, in March for the legendary South by Southwest Festival (SXSW).

In between tours, they star in fun videos and write new songs (hear them at:

Next month, Said The Whale will release a four-track EP titled New Brighton, which was recorded at Blue Wave and Vertical Studios in Vancouver with 15 other songs for its third full-length album, set to go public in early 2012.

Its debut EP Taking Abalonia came out four years ago and was re-released the next year as an LP, titled Howe Sounds/Taking Abalonia, with seven new songs.

The following year, Said The Whale unveiled the EP The Magician in anticipation of its second full-length album called Island Disappear.

And last year, it grabbed attention when it was named the runner-up in the 2010 Peak Performance Project, sponsored by the radio station 100.5 FM The Peak, placing behind the rapper Kyprios.

The silver award garnered Said The Whale a handsome $75,000 windfall and it eventually led them to the most-prestigious honour to date: the 2011 Juno Award for New Group of the Year.

The accolade came just weeks after the band's gear was stolen from its van while on tour in California.

Touring, Bancroft said, allows him and his colleagues to see and perform in places they'd likely never go had they not been in a band.

They've played to miniscule audiences (in the early years, to two people in Thunder Bay, Ont.; at an Austin, TX, parking lot to a crowd about the same size) and to crazy fans (Bancroft cites The Commodore in his hometown of Vancouver as being a favourite).

Though his band has a set list, he can't predict how the Port Moody show will play out until he arrives on stage. "If it's more of a listening crowd, we may pull out a few slower songs but if it's a rowdy crowd like Calgary last night, where they wouldn't stop screaming the whole time, you've got to bring out the rock," Bancroft said.

As for the band's quirky name, Bancroft laughs.

"There's no excellent story about that," he said. "We get that question all the time. It's just a name. It's just the result of brainstorming.

"The whale? I'm a big fan of them. It's a really awesome animal," he said.

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The 14th annual Port Moody Festival of the Arts wraps up Sunday. Here's what's happening until then:

Thursday: LOL Comedy Night, 7:30 p.m., Inlet Theatre

Friday: Artist in residence J Peachy, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., PoMo city hall

Friday: Author reading by Mike McCardell, 7 p.m., Inlet Theatre

Saturday: Said the Whale with Bodhi Jones, 7 p.m., Inlet Theatre

Sunday: Ioco Ghost Town Day, 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Ioco lawn bowling green

Sunday: Artist lounge workshop, 1 p.m., PoMo city hall

Sunday: Writing PlayShop, 5 p.m., Caffe Divano

For more information or tickets, call 604-931-2008 (extension 0) or visit