IN AUGUST 2007, Peter Broderick couldn't have been happier. His favorite band, Efterklang, had asked him to join the ranks for their upcoming tour, and Broderick was spending one of his final nights in Portland with some friends before catching a flight to his new home in Denmark. He and his friends decided to play Scrabble, so Broderick ran up to his room to grab a pen and, in the dark, tripped over the big black bag in the center of the room that was packed with all his worldly possessions.
The members of Efterklang now refer to this bag as "the body bag."
It's not surprising that the Danish ensemble asked Broderick to join them—he's an incredibly gifted musician who, along with his solo recordings, has played with Horse Feathers, Laura Gibson, M. Ward, and countless others. At the time, Efterklang had just finished work on their incredibly ambitious Parades album, and were facing the daunting task of replicating its classical-folk-chamber-pop live. Broderick was a perfect candidate: an excellent violinist who could also contribute vocals and other instruments.
"I'm running to grab a stupid pen for a stupid game of Scrabble," Broderick says, "and I trip over the stupid bag, and land directly on my right knee cap. Incredibly painful. I could hardly walk that night, and in the morning it was still the same. The doctor took a look at it, and said it should heal up in six to seven weeks. But the whole time, I've had this bad knee from that little incident. Some days are better than others, but I can feel it every second." Finally, in December of last year, Broderick decided to have some long overdue surgery to fix things once and for all.
He's still recovering. "I hoped my knee would heal quickly enough for me to be back on the road by now. But it hasn't. If anything it's gotten worse. So when Efterklang play at the Doug Fir on March 13, I'll be sitting in Denmark in my pajamas, with an icepack on my knee." Happily, he is returning home to Portland later this month for a full convalescence.
Funnily enough, although Peter won't be there, a member of the Broderick family will be playing as a member of Efterklang. Peter's sister, Heather Woods Broderick, joined the band after she and Peter both contributed to their newest album, Magic Chairs. Heather just released her remarkable solo debut, the breathtaking From the Ground, but listening to Efterklang's Magic Chairs, it's obvious why she decided to join the band instead of immediately embarking on a solo tour; from the flurry of piano that opens "Modern Drift" to the gently building "The Soft Beating," Efterklang have made an album packed with life-affirming melodies and dressed them in skewed, exquisitely shaded arrangements that never fail to surprise or engage.
Efterklang bassist Rasmus Stolberg says, "It's a poppier Efterklang sound, but of course it's not a pop album. I don't know how it happened, actually. I think in the past we've been very focused on defining what Efterklang isn't, and with this record we didn't really restrict ourselves. It may be a combination of us being a happy band and also that we gained a lot of confidence in the last years. We've sort of proved ourselves; we have more confidence and are slightly more relaxed about what we're doing, but still as ambitious as ever."Read more of what Peter Broderick had to say at End Hits.