Towers and Trees are staring 2016 off strong. They officially released their new album The West Coast back in October, but now they're off to play some highly anticipated release shows. On Saturday you can catch them in Vancouver for their release party at the Biltmore, and the following weekend they'll be doing some Vancouver Island dates.
Jess had a chat with Adrian about what the band has been up to lately, here's how it went.
Jess: How was your latest tour? Did you feel like you were the West Coast ambassadors to the rest of Canada?
Adrian: We went thorugh Alberta, and Alberta seems to be a really great place, they're really stoked on music there. We played Calgary on a Monday night and it was packed - it was awesome. Every show really exceeded our expectations, epecially for where we're at in our journey. It was our first time hitting the road without another band so it was the first time feeling like it was our tour. It was an album release tour, so all the little victories like getting so much publicity and chatting with cool people, all those felt so much sweeter for us. It felt like it was ours, you know? And to answer your second question, yeah we maybe have painted ourselves in a little bit of "the band from Victoria called Towers and Trees with an album called West Coast." The album isn't really, from my perspective, this like cheerleader type thing, like this brochure like to come out to the West Coast.
Jess: So you weren't hired by Tourism BC to write it?
Adrian: I'd like if they wanted to hire us! But is more of a personal story and lots of pain and hope again - and we've been ca;ling it the west coast because for me that was about just acknowledging that that's where we've seen this happen. I really didn't plan on paying music on the west coast. I was there and I grew up there but our first song that ever got noticed was Montreal, and as a musician from the west coast about 10 yers ago that was sort of the landscape. I was watching bands like Patrick Watson and Karkawa from Montreal and that song Montreal was about how that's not going to happening - instead I made the decision in those formative years of my life to stay here [Victoria] and that's kind of where that album came from. Regardless of where I thought things should go or what should happen, what I came to discover is that the songs about my life and about these experiences all happened here on the west coast.
Jess: What's yourfavourite west coast moment or memory?
Adrian: I think for myself there's obviously a special thing that happeened for me when I was sort of coming of age. I think I would have been about 13 or somthing and I went on a camping trip to the far west side of Vancouver Island - that kind of far west coast, up a trail on Sombrio Beach and that was definitely a milestone for me. Inevitably later I sort of dabbled with surfing and I have a wetsuit and a board and I go a couple times a year or something like that, but really for me it's being on the cost and camping and occisionally the sun. That was always that sort of back woods appraoch to the camping life, like bringing some stuff to make a fire and light food stuff, and on the spot going fishing or skipping rocks and catching lampreys or things like that. Camping and going to Sombrio, that was a big part. I see my mind dancing around that region of the Island, it was such a good part of my life and the life of my friends and community.
Jess: As an adult have you gone back? It's quite the party spot now...
Adrian: As an adult I'm more of a guy who gets crochety about stuff like that - like people going out there ruining it with their stereos and beer cans. When I go to Sombrio I hike as far as I can in one direction to get away from people and sit and complain about how it used to be back before the cave collapsed. I don't look trendy when I'm out there, I just have dorky camping stuff because I don't go out there to rave.
Jess: Just you and the guitar and the hatchet?
Adrian: Yeah, and a fishing rod and my brother.
Jess: Is Bad Heart about you? Why did you write that?
Adrian: Umm I think that's where I was when I wrote that song. That's the song that I kind of had to pull. I mean, I'm someone who's slow to anger and I will absorb a lot of punches before I can throw one back, and what I've seen with mself in any interpseronal relationship like romantic, where that song comes from, or anything like that. Even with that and even with kind of learning the ins and outs of a relationship and the trials and growth that goes with that, it took a long time for me to let myself get angry about that siutaiton and peope were really counseling me andd pushing me, and my reaction was just to shut down and people said 'No, you need to get angry and stand up for yoursef,' and I wanted there to be an agnry song on the album and that groove of kind of getting angry. The rhythm and that song is also the most collaboratively arranged with the sgroup. I can offer some pieces of the song but it came together working as a group. That song is just about letting yoruself have some righteous indignation. It's just, we all just needed a moment to rock out. I think some of it is we need to be that way we need to see ourselves that way. I don't think I live there, I don't see myself there, but if you go through some ugy things you can see yourself as ugly.
Jess: Do you feel like that song balances the record? Is it meant to be an emotionally balaned record at all?
Adrian: The album is very much a balance, that's a key to the whole thing and its an album that wereally was in the midst and really tries to go through all the specs. For me there's a really big part of how it ended up plalying out is the album starts with a lot of hopeful, optimistic songs about choosing hope, choosing possibliity and it goes into introspective, angry parts of the album so that sort of second part ends with a song called "Last Breath" which is a pretty broad song and to me that kind of was the album end, at least where the story ends. And then after that there's still 2 more songs, but its kind of like an epilogue – it's not like more chapters of the novel it's more like an afternthought and both of those songs are the answer – if it's a call and answer. "Love Song for a Girl" is more like a lullabye and to me that song is about exactly that – choosing to believe that love can and will live and you don't find it where you thought you would. The album ends with a song called "Hearts on Fire" and it's about that moment where you tip over the edge with romantic love with somebody, and that happens like a tingling on the end of your fingers, kind of romance and infatuation right before you kind of fall.
Jess: What music were you listening to when you were writing or putting together The West Coast?
Adrian: One part of my DNA with music is I actually really learned music as a language and a shared thing before performance in church. That was something that started when I was kind of around 13 and eventually that sort of faith was a big part of my life and it was a big part of my teen years and most of my 20's and most of the album begins at the end of that. The end of my faith sort of began, and Towers and Trees is just an excersize in learing my own creativity and I did think that I cared about music and learning it not as a performance but as a shared exerienced and a conduit with a room full of peope who are all on the same page, and music as a fairly vulnerable expression.
So there's this album called Tumbling Ground by a band called the Black Peppercorns, and I first knew them as fairly prominent musiicans in the contemporary Christianity worship music, and in the mid-nineties he made this album and I guess it was during a time of pretty intense upheaveal in his own life and he had this full break which is what a lot of people have in religious communitie,s and he had some stuff that fell and relationshps fell apart and he made this album called Tumbling Ground and I would have first heard that album in my early teens and ever since its been my favourite album of all time. It probably sold 300 copies but it's very autobiograhical and it's very much about stories and pain and you can tell it's very vulnaerable and present and real. I've kind of always aspired to make an album like that and my way of paying homage to that one, by far the single most kind of influencial transformative item of my musical background and how I approch music and writing. That's my shout-out and I actually had the band listen to that album before we started and was like 'this is how I want it to be.'
Jess: What did they think of it?
Adrian: I don't know. I don't think any of them were like 'Woah, this is amazing!' but music you discover when you're like 15 or 17... you just have so much energy and spirit and hormones bursting at the seems that music that you discover at that moment has a heightened intensity, so I don't think it hit them the same way as hit hit my 15 year old heart. They had a recognition that musically and emotionally I was trying to show people. I think they saw me and wanted to shed some light on it.
Jess: What's ahead in 2016 for Towers and Trees?
Adrian: Umm, well I think one thing that we do is that we never quite know, I'd say the focus on 2015 was the album. I'm really proud of it and we believe in it which is great, and that's how these things should work, and we enjoy bringing it to the stage. We'd love to honour this album as much as possible and five it whatever lifespan or legs that we can and out of that it's out of our control of who likes it and how far it goes.I think as far as the next album we work on we want to rock that a little and have a little more fun and be a little more spontaneous or something so I think we're already thinking about the next one we'd love it to not be another 3 years for another album. I think honestly 2016 will be the bridge between trying to do justice and honour the album we just put out and trying to get excited about what we'll create next and anywhere we want to go will be determined by time