Operators Gives Dan Boeckner An Outlet To Shine

Dan Boeckner, currently touring with his New Wave synth-pop trio Operators, is a member of three indie  bands. Does he ever worry that he’s not dedicating enough time to each project?

“I do constantly worry that I should be writing something,” he says. “That worry is like gas in the tank. It’s a necessity for me.”

Boeckner’s musical résumé, which includes Wolf Parade and Handsome Furs, reads like the indie rock equivalent of a Major League Baseball journeyman player. The Canadian singer-songwriter performs well with any team he plays for, but the guitarist doesn’t always get the recognition that his teammates do. His recent collaboration, Divine Fits, was billed more as Britt Daniel’s Spoon side project. Boeckner is a man who lets his work, not his ego, do the talking.

“It comes from working menial jobs to support my music habit,” he says.

The musician’s latest venture, whose lineup includes Divine Fits drummer Sam Brown and synth player Devojka, would punch his ticket to the metaphorical All-Star Game if the project wasn’t in danger of being overshadowed by the news of Wolf Parade’s return to touring. 
“I hadn’t really had an outlet for electronic music,” Boeckner says. “When Handsome Furs collapsed, I felt like there was a void in what I could get out musically. I started working on what would eventually become the first Operators tracks. … Everything just clicked together.”

The debut single off Operators’ first full-length album, Blue Wave, titled “Cold Light,” starts out with jangly percussion and then goes dark fast. A hooky bass riff and synths engulf you in gloom as Boeckner cries “you can’t go home.” It comes from an appreciation of the acid house music of Aphex Twin, the underground nice of Sonic Youth, and Joy Division. He also credits an unlikely source.

“My formative musical years were influenced by these dark ’80s pop songs,” Boeckner recalls. “Something like ‘In The Air Tonight’ by Phil Collins I can appreciate, now that there’s years and years of distance between that song and my current self. Not just as a Top 40 hit or something super cheesy, but as a pretty amazing piece of art. I like that stuff and it worked its way into my consciousness.”

The album makes you appreciate what he brought to the table with Divine Fits. With Daniel working on another Spoon album and Boeckner preparing for another Operators and Wolf Parade album, it’ll be another year before the indie supergroup starts on the follow-up to their debut album.

He estimates, “It would be around 2017 before Britt and I write together with Sam [Brown] and Alex [Fischel]. I’m excited about it.”

Here’s hoping Operators finally gives Boeckner an opportunity to shine.

He declares, “I feel like [Operators] is the most honest expression of my own songwriting that I’ve done.”

Operators are scheduled to perform Monday, April 11, at Valley Bar. Tickets are $11 in advance, $13 day of show.