My Firsts: Kevin Drew of Broken Social Scene | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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My Firsts: Kevin Drew of Broken Social Scene

Gerbil Guilt

Nov 15, 2023 Web Exclusive Photography by Richard Briant Bookmark and Share

My Firsts is our email interview series where we ask musicians to tell us about their first life experiences, be it early childhood ones (first word, first concert, etc.) or their first tastes of being a musician (first band, first tour, etc.). For this My Firsts we talk to Kevin Drew of Broken Social Scene.

Drew recently released a new solo album, Aging, on Arts & Crafts, a label he co-founded in 2003, initially to help release Broken Social Scene’s breakthrough second album, You Forgot It in People, which ended up being one of the most acclaimed and beloved indie rock albums of the early 2000s. Broken Social Scene were at the forefront of a wave of exciting new Canadian artists at the time, which included Stars, Metric, Feist, The Dears, and Arcade Fire, with Feist and members of Stars and Metric also singing in Broken Social Scene.

Broken Social Scene’s last album was was 2017’s Hug of Thunder, although in 2019 they released two EPs, Let’s Try the After Vol. 1 and Let’s Try the After Vol. 2, both on Arts & Crafts. In 2021 Drew released Influences, an instrumental album under the name K.D.A.P. His previous regular solo album was 2014’s Darlings. In 2022 Drew also contributed to our Covers of Covers 20th anniversary album, where he covered Stars’ “The Loose Ends Will Make Knots.”

Drew recorded Aging at The Tragically Hip’s Bathouse studio near Kingston, Ontario with longtime collaborator Nyles Spencer. Initially he intended to make a children’s album, but soon it evolved into one about getting old.

“Pain is a hard thing to let go until you’re ready,” Drew said in a press release announcing Aging. “And that’s kind of where I was at with this record. Music, for me, is a release—it’s a place where I can go and express what it is that I want to say.”

Drew has also recently released Towards Everything, a new 75-page book that features “a collection of self-portraits and free verse ‘puke poems.’”

Read on as Drew, who was born in 1976, talks about his early crushes and broken hearts, the ’80s TV action hero he admired, a terrible school he attended, a first job that helped teach him the way of the world, and a bad review that turned out to be beneficial.

First word?


First best friend?

Robin Dunne.

First pet?

A gerbil I ended up injuring by swinging it by its tail. I was so young and had no idea what I was doing. This eventually as the years went by haunted me so much that in high school, I found myself accepted by the David Silvian/Skinny Puppy/My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult crowd. They understood my gerbil guilt.

First broken bone?

Never had one.

First time you had to go to the hospital?

Tonsils came out.

First time you fell in love?

Vanessa Sanchez (grade five).

First person you kissed?

Hmmmm….first person I really kissed was Shelly at Camp Pine Crest. I had no idea what I was doing. I think that’s when I formed my signature “head tilt” move. Something about tilting your head when kissing seemed natural to me. It was only a few years later that my older high school crush Jen Meurer called me out on my head tilt move when we kissed at the Our Town after party in the bushes. She thought it was dumb. Wasn’t into my John Hughes make out moves. “Catch the Blue Train” [real title “Somewhere Down the Crazy River”] by Robbie Robertson was playing at the time. Not the greatest song to make out to. His music doesn’t really inspire me to dive deep into the barrels of saliva with another beautiful human.

First time your heart was broken?

Ah man….Colleen Rice. It was grade three. She performed a dance to the song “Never Ending Story” at a classroom talent show once. I asked if I could hang out with her and maybe do a song performance together… she ghosted me. I was crushed until I started watching the soap opera Santa Barbara with my amazing new grade six babysitter whose name I can’t remember. Between sitting beside her and watching Robin Wright on the television screen—I had all kinds of blood rushing to my heart. I started to see how replacing one love for another love helps your heart start to repair itself. Little did I know how that feeling was going to set me on a course that many would argue is no way to live. I only have a few regrets within my pinball love affairs…and they only have to do with me and my reactions to the drama of having a broken heart since I was seven years old. I should have taken grade four to really work out my feelings.

First movie you saw in the movie theater?

I think it was Bambi or The Empire Strikes Back. I have broken memories of a drive thru theatre and Urban Cowboy with Debra Winger and John Travolta playing. We had a station wagon and my brother and I would sleep in the back. I remember cowboy hats and fights in bars on the big screen with Travolta’s cheek bones.

First TV show you were obsessed with?

The A-Team. Mr. T meant everything to me.

First record your parents played for you?

Hmmm…My brother and I were obsessed with music. Maybe it was Dark Side of the Moon…or maybe it was Raffi. Same thing when you really think about it. It’s all children’s music to me.

First album you bought?

Supertramp: Crime of the Century.

First favorite band?


First favorite song?

“I Was Made for Loving You” by KISS.

First musician you had a crush on?

Sheila E.

First actor or actress you had a crush on?

Lea Thompson.

First concert you went to?

Willie Nelson.

First music festival you went to?

Lollapalooza—second year.

First time you got drunk?

Started at 12.

I sobered up at 13.

Picked it back up 14.

Sobered up at 21.

Picked it back up at 21.

Sobered up at 39.

Picked it back up at 40.

I’m due to put it down shortly.

First job you had?

Cleaning my dad’s company office every Sunday. 14 through 17 years of age. Figured out how to clean a toilet really well. Used the metaphor of scraping off other people’s shit for most jobs in my life. Grateful to have the janitorial duties as my first paycheck. It’s solid work and a needed job that teaches you how people exist in this world.

First time you got fired?

18 years old. I was selling sunglasses for this cool knock off company but would keep forgetting to take inventory when visiting stores all over Ontario. My boss Scott Montgomery got rid of me. He was/is one of my favorites. Taught me so much about life and living. We hung out last week. To this day I still adore hanging with him.

First car you owed?

Ford Escape 2008.

First country you visited outside of your own?


First computer?

IBM 640….I think. We had the game Spy Hunter. It was huge in a lot of neighborhoods.

First email address?

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)—I loved her so much back in the days when our careers were taking off. She asked me to get an email address for her. Having her back was one of my biggest honors. Now we smile on the phone from time to time or do the back stage “how’s it going” amongst cheerleaders and “yes” people that these days seem to ignite my immature Bukowski nature with denial and force field tequila annoyance…but it’s all love. I have her photograph permanently in my heart.

First social media account?


First roommate?

Andrew Nisker.

First book you read outside of one assigned for school?

Who is Bugs Potter? by Gordon Korman.

First time you voted?

I was 18 and voted Orange. We needed a serious change.

First major disappointment?

I was 18 and voted Orange. Realized that no one wanted a serious change.

First instrument?


First band you were in?

Frighten Bread. All I did was dance around and sing into the mic occasionally. I called myself the rubber man and evoked the Grateful Dead head hippie dance. I was 14. The coolest part was Ian Wornag from the bands Uncut and Two Koreas was in it as well. We went to the same high school. He was a lovely, lovely guy. He’s now missed by a lot of good people out there. Go listen to his records and turn them up loud. He deserves all the volume you can give him.

First recording device?

4-track Tascam portable studio cassette tape.

First professional recording session?

I tend to avoid those.

First time you performed in public?

Clamity Jane—school performance. Some awful school in Oakville, Ontario. It was for troubled kids. I went there. This school was a magnet/spider web for vulnerable parents. Privileged, yet naive and vulnerable. It was a school that prayed on that very parent’s bank account with self-proclaimed awards. Private school. Selling learning disabilities like they were cancer for children. Putting fear into the checking accounts of moms and dads who drove Audis. It was full of shit and my parents, along with the teachers, told me to get out of there in grade eight. I ended up going to art school.

First bad review?

A play I wrote and performed in Toronto called A and R Angels. The review was in The Globe and Mail, which is Canada’s national newspaper. The reviewer was absolutely disgusted I was even able to have the opportunity to get the play produced let alone act in it and be the play writer. It became kind of ridiculous in the idea that it seemed so personal in his critique. He was just so flabbergasted at how bad I was and how bad the writing was. “This musician has no place in Toronto theatre” as if it was a threat to the community. The show itself was not as bad as he made out to be, though it had split reviews, and I later after the show made a point to attend semi-okay plays he enjoyed just to prove to myself and my theatrical ego that the guy was just not having me at all. I had so many people come up to me after our performances during that exact run and say that they came to see the play based on how bad the review was in The Globe. They wanted to see what all the “fuss and wining” was about from the reviewer. In the end, he sold us a lot of tickets. We had some really good performances after that review which in the end contradicted the reviewer’s piece for some people. They were disappointed that it was not as bad as they were led to believe. You never know how things are going to work out to your advantage.

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