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Making the Breaks

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True to form, the instrumental collective wasn’t against adding vocal elements on several tracks either.

"It’s not because we’re bored or tired of what we’re doing," Shields is quick to point out, "but we just want to try and progress a bit, you know?"

Their cyborgesque combination of live performers turning out mixable electronic-sounding grooves allows the band to integrate easily with DJs. It’s something Whistlerites can check out for themselves since local DJ Mat the Alien is slated to spin funk and soul sets to open both shows. The band often plays alongside turntablists says Shields, since New Deal sets actually unfold more like DJ sets.

"Part of the concept of our live shows is to kind of have a smooth flow like a DJ and not have too many breaks," confirms Shields. "Our sets are about 70 minutes long and usually we’ll only take two or three stops."

It’s not surprising that The New Deal has toured in the past with the legendary Herbie Hancock, another musician whose jazz-funk-electronic œvre defies classification. Bands like the New Deal are the spiritual offspring of the man whose career has turned out everything from traditional jazz to the robotic beats behind the ’80s breakdance craze.

Progression, innovation, unpredictability, it’s the New Deal credo.

"We’re not interested in maintaining the status quo, for sure," Shields emphasizes. "We always want to try to make it different. That’s why we improvise every night. We can’t really sit in one place too long."

His rapid-fire delivery drives the point home – he doesn’t sound like he could play the same song twice in his lifetime, let alone night after soul-sucking night on a multi-date tour.

"One of the biggest pleasures in playing music is getting to play what you want," he emphasizes. "So many bands go out there and are hemmed in to a style; they’ve got to play the same thing night after night after night. With The New Deal we’re able to not do that. We can go and change it up every night."

The New Deal plays the GLC tonight and Saturday. Tickets for tonight’s show are $15 in advance from Blueballs Boutique, The Electric Daisy Internet Café and the GLC, $20 at the door. Saturday’s show is a part of the Whistler Film Festival’s Passion Party. Tickets are $25, available through the Film Festival box office in the Blackcomb Lodge or by calling 604-938-3323.

Whistler DJ Mat the Alien opens on both nights spinning funk and soul sets.