It is hard to manage simultaneous careers in music and academia. Hadji Bakara -- synthesizer and sound manipulator for manic but earnest indie rockers Wolf Parade -- knows this firsthand.
When he spoke to us, Bakara was on a train from Montreal to Toronto, where his dance remix duo Megasoid would play a "mega dance party" until 2:30 a.m. Early the next morning, he would take a GRE literature exam for application to Ph.D. programs and a late afternoon flight to Vancouver for another Megasoid show.
Bakara is soon moving on to pursue academic endeavors full time, but his current duties are with Wolf Parade. Bakara will spend Halloween on a bus traveling from the band's Montreal base to Buffalo. The band kicks off its fall tour at 8 p.m. Saturday in Asbury Hall in support of its June release from Sub Pop Records, "At Mount Zoomer."
Sub Pop's bio of Wolf Parade says you were recently "pruning conifers somewhere in British Columbia, living in a burlap tent and eating raw honey." True story or PR embellishment?
(Laughs.) Well, uh, let me think. I don't prune conifers; I plant them.
And I don't live in a burlap tent; I live in a little cabin by the water. And I put honey in my tea, I don't think I would ingest it raw.
Yeah, so, hyperbole. But an impressionistic rendering of the truth.
How did your role as "sound manipulator" fit into the recording of "At Mount Zoomer"?
I make all the weird sounds from anything that's not a piano or traditional-sounding keyed instrument. Everybody writes their own part in Wolf Parade. No one tells anyone else what to do. Any synthesizers or whatever melodies you hear in Wolf Parade, that's my role. I like to think that my parts make Wolf Parade not just sound like a rock band.
I've always just tried to do my best to produce compressions that don't reference pop music.
What are the band's dynamics like when you have two strong creative forces such as songwriters Dan Boeckner and Spencer Krug?
The thing about Wolf Parade is we're such old friends and we've been playing music together so long, we don't listen to anyone else.
Everyone just does their thing, and we've found this happy medium where everyone gets to do what they want. There's two individuals in the band who are considered to be an incredible power unto themselves, and they are. But when it comes to Wolf Parade, everyone just does their part.
Besides Wolf Parade, you've all got successful side ventures, including your remix duo Megasoid, Dan has Handsome Furs, Spencer has Sunset Rubdown. How does each band member assign priority?
I think it's some kind of democratic consensus. We all look at each other and say, "Hey, do you have six months to do Wolf Parade?" If we do, we do. Wolf Parade is a collaboration at this point. . . . Wolf Parade is music none of us could make on our own. So when we've had our fill of making music we could make on our own and need to make music together, then we do.
WHO: Wolf Parade
WHEN: 8 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Asbury Hall at Babeville, 341 Delaware Ave.
TICKETS: $17 advance, $19 day of show (Tickets.com, box office)