Home Indie Music Cowboy Junkies – Michael Timmins on Their New Album “Such Ferocious Magnificence”

Cowboy Junkies – Michael Timmins on Their New Album “Such Ferocious Magnificence”

Cowboy Junkies – Michael Timmins on Their New Album “Such Ferocious Magnificence”


Cowboy Junkies – Michael Timmins on Their New Album “Such Ferocious Magnificence”

Embracing Loss and Impermanence

Jul 19, 2023

Pictures by Heather Pollack
Internet Unique
Bookmark and Share

Cowboy Junkies broke via in 1988 with their epic The Trinity Session LP and have been creating spell-binding music, spearheaded by the distinctive voice of Margo Timmins, throughout 5 a long time.

Such Ferocious Magnificence is the band’s first launch of recent materials in 5 years and follows their heralded 2022 assortment of covers, Songs of the Recollection. The lo-fi Canadian band consists of siblings Margo, Michael, and Peter Timmins and lifelong good friend Alan Anton. Michael Timmins is the chief architect and author for the Junkies.

Such Ferocious Magnificence is their twentieth studio album and is a rumination on getting older, shedding dad and mom, going through mortality, and creating area for one’s life within the midst of the damage that comes from merely dwelling. As their father seeped additional into the maze of dementia, the file captures the profound heartache of shedding a mum or dad on this manner and the first emotions of Michael as a son. Michael wrote the vast majority of the album in a distant northern Ontario location. Ending touches got by long-time Junkies engineer Joby Baker. It’s co-produced by Michael Timmins and bassist Alan Anton.

Such Ferocious Magnificence is out now. Their 1996 album Lay it Down can be launched on vinyl for the primary time on August eleventh.

Lee Campbell (Underneath the Radar): The brand new album Such Ferocious Magnificence was launched final month. Have you ever heard a lot suggestions about it but out of your fanbase?

Michael Timmins: It’s been actually good thus far, nevertheless it’s so bizarre releasing an album as of late. Within the previous days there have been a couple of key magazines you needed to get. There was no such factor as an internet site or a weblog. It was very centered, and in case you get these few issues [media coverage], it was nice. These days it’s so assorted, and I don’t actually observe it, so I’m not as positive as what’s related and what’s not as related. The best way I normally weigh them up is that if the reviewer has a little bit of perception to it, has listened to it, considered it, and written about it. That to me is an efficient evaluation, even when it’s constructive or damaging. I need to see one thing within the evaluation meaning they’ve given it a while. If they’ve given it some vitality and a few focus, then nice. It’s all about engagement, proper.

Releasing a file isn’t enjoyable because it’s such an extended course of. Essentially the most enjoyable is the making of it, the creation of it. The ready and the promotion is normally the least enjoyable, however this time has been rewarding as there’s been a lot engagement. This a part of the hassle has been value it thus far.
In a latest Cowboy Junkies Music is the Drug podcast with Dave Bowler you mentioned it was vital to retain the band’s “character.” How would you describe the character of Cowboy Junkies?

The sound of Cowboy Junkies is the 4 of us taking part in collectively. That sounds actually apparent, however the 4 of us can actually solely do what we do. None of us are educated. You could possibly depend up on one hand the quantity of classes we’ve got taken. I’ve taken none, Pete’s taken a handful, I don’t suppose Al has ever taken one, Margo has perhaps taken three voice classes. So, we realized what we do by taking part in collectively, actually proper from the start.

Whites Off Earth Now!! was recorded six months into our existence as a band. We linked on this bizarre stage. We discovered this sound, which has expanded over time, and altered and shifted, nevertheless it’s actually simply the 4 of us taking part in collectively. 4 personalities coming collectively and making this factor or sound referred to as Cowboy Junkies. I wanna guarantee that there’s sufficient variation on our information, that there’s a re-direction or one thing completely different about them, a special manner of speaking musically. Our greatest energy is the 4 of us speaking collectively as a unit. That’s why early in our profession once we recorded The Trinity Session and Whites—we didn’t need to go right into a studio as a result of we had been afraid of shedding that. We didn’t have the cash to spend time within the studio, we didn’t have the data of learn how to get that onto tape after which combine it, and we didn’t have an engineer to belief to try this for us. So, once we ran throughout Peter Moore and promoted this concept of simply doing this with one microphone and simply capturing what you do. That was precisely what we needed to do. We had been very lucky, and I feel that’s why “Trinity” was so successful, as a result of for the primary time in a few years, or actually in that period, that manner of speaking your character via your music had disappeared. You heard the studio, the most recent approach. So we had been a bunch of musicians getting collectively, performing, speaking to one another via their devices.

We’ve tried to hold that via on all of our information to various levels. This newest file took a variety of time in post-production as a result of there’s a variety of thought put into it. We had been making an attempt various things, and when the ultimate combine was being accomplished, when me and Al had been fairly pleased with it, I used to be afraid, as I used to be on this course of so lengthy now, is it nonetheless Cowboy Junkies? I had misplaced that perspective. However, from what different individuals have been telling me, the band continues to be coming via, that vibe continues to be there. There’s one thing very fundamental, primitive and natural about what we do, and it’s straightforward to lose that in trendy know-how. I like trendy know-how however I don’t need it to remove from what music is, and that’s communication.

And what about getting Joby Baker concerned within the last combine?

I blended it twice and I used to be pleased with it, however not in love with it. I blended it once more, and thought it’s simply not fairly there. At that time, I believed, I’ve misplaced it right here, so I wanna get another person in on it. Joby labored on Paths Taken and different information for us, and he had a very good method to issues, to our sound, so far as the fundamental issues like drum and bass. He’s actually good at capturing that stuff. Additionally, he’s on the west coast the place Al lives, so he was ready to enter the studio with him. I used to be capable of get one other step again from it. It took a little bit little bit of time for him to search out it, however as soon as he discovered it, it simply all fell into place. He was the final little peg within the ladder.

“Onerous to Construct, Straightforward to Break” is arguably one of many most interesting tracks on the album. Pete didn’t play on this one. How did that one go down with Pete?

[Laughs] Yeah, he was okay with that. Again once we had been working with Joby so much, Joby truly performed drums on a few songs on the Nomad Sequence information. There’s a variety of guitar on earlier information that I don’t play. Typically I’ll herald a visitor guitarist, as a result of the model of guitar that I’m in search of isn’t me, that’s not my character. With this music, Al had created the essential thought with the bass and drum sample. It was a really sophisticated drum loop. Pete would have gotten it after he studied it, however there’s a variety of technical drummers on the market that might hearken to that and play it instantly. Why pull your tooth out? Let me get another person in who can get it inside half an hour within the studio versus Pete having to take a seat there for 3 days. His title is Kyle Sullivan, he’s a man I work with so much. He’s in Jerry Leger’s band who we’ve accomplished a variety of information with. He’s an excellent drummer and he’s very studied. He’s taken a zillion classes in his life, and he continues to take them. He loves the mechanics of drumming.

With this music, we needed this very particular groove. No matter is finest for this music, however we’re gonna be taking part in this music reside for years, so now Pete can do his factor on it. It’s obtained a pleasant looping groove that’s going to be enjoyable to play reside. Some songs you possibly can take proper out of the studio and play reside simply, however others, like this one, you actually should suppose and determine the texture of them. We’ve to get that really feel reside, we’re nonetheless engaged on it, however we’re assured once we hit it, it’s gonna be a kind of reside songs that’s gonna be there for a very long time.

Inform me in regards to the inspiration and timing of the writing of the music?

Proper on the finish of 2020, Al had created the essential construction of the music. I used to be listening to that and making an attempt to give you a really feel for it, and all of this was occurring sociologically and politically. The road “arduous to construct, straightforward to interrupt,” I don’t recall if I heard somebody say it or a variation of that concept, however as soon as I heard that line, that was the music, and a commentary on society mainly. You may go to the micro facet of it, relationships too, something actually. Something that’s value having, it’s normally troublesome to construct, troublesome to place it collectively, however very easy to alter stuff. Undoubtedly, the January sixth occasions spurned this concept of democracy and establishments, as flawed as they’re, and as a lot as they want altering, rehabilitating and continually want clever pondering, they’re all made up. There’s nothing to say that they’ve to stay. It’s straightforward to destroy them and do away with them, however there’s going to be this big vacuum there. As soon as they’re destroyed, they’re gone proper, and God is aware of what replaces them! I’m not one which thinks issues are excellent, however I do imagine there needs to be intelligence, thought and care put into these items.

“Throw a Match.” You play an excellent guitar solo on that one. What’s the genesis of that observe?

It virtually goes again to the “Onerous to Construct” thought. We create all of those concepts, philosophies and deities, and we simply made all of them up [laughing]. No-one can say for positive what’s true and never true. These ethical legal guidelines, handed down from God, are created by us. There are some nice ones, and others that aren’t so nice. The thought of imposing all of these items on individuals who don’t wanna imagine that is sort of loopy. It’s so dangerous and causes a lot injury. God (if there’s a God) doesn’t actually care about the entire issues we’ve got made up. God isn’t about that. If there’s a big non secular facet to this life, he/she/it/they aren’t caring in regards to the pettiness of it or our morality. We create all of this grief for what? I’m not positive why, within the title of one thing else.

“Knives” has a quite simple really feel to it. Inform me extra.

It’s additionally primarily based round Al’s bassline groove. I constructed my guitar half round it, balancing again & forth with Al’s half. That’s one of many songs that Margo and I labored on simply with an acoustic guitar and vocal, then constructed it up with the bass and drums, and one other lead guitar I put in there with James McKie on fiddle. That’s a traditional Junkies music. Get a pleasant groove going, simply sit on it and let Margo float via it. Undoubtedly the darkest lyrically I feel, together with “Hell is Actual.”

How do you proceed to be impressed on daily basis?

[Laughs] I undoubtedly don’t rise up on daily basis and really feel impressed, that’s for positive. After I was youthful I’d have been extra like that, the primary ten years of the band. The tasks of getting older, the youngsters, mortgages and paying payments. These issues do crowd in. When it comes the time to jot down a file, I undoubtedly should shut all of it down and simply deal with writing the file. I’ll start to assemble emotions and ideas of stuff that’s in there that I need to discover, I’ll get out of city. I’ll discover a cottage to lease or somebody will give me a spot to remain for weeks on finish. After I’m there, I simply write, I learn and I feel. I get away from my common life and don’t have interaction with anybody else, social media or the information. I simply deal with inside stuff. I’ve accomplished that now for a very long time, most likely the final half of the band’s profession. The inspiring half that retains me going is taking part in reside. That retains me engaged in being a musician and speaking. The writing and recording of the file is a really intense and centered interval. The overarching factor is taking part in reside. That’s what we do, we’re a reside band. That’s how we proceed to speak and hold vibrant. That’s what offers us pleasure.

The file is co-produced with Alan Anton. You’ve recognized one another for therefore lengthy, proper?

All That Reckoning I additionally co-produced with Al. He has at all times been my major sounding board and at all times been a really related a part of the band. I’ve recognized him longer than I’ve recognized [my youngest brother] Pete as a result of I used to be pals with Al earlier than Pete was born. Again then, we weren’t making music however we had been sharing our file collections. The brand new Lou Reed file would come out and we’d resolve who was going to purchase it. Whoever purchased it, then needed to tape it for the opposite. Our tastes in music actually grew collectively. Earlier than Cowboy Junkies we had been in a few bands collectively. We’ve at all times been one another’s major collaborator. With the final two information specifically, Al has introduced a variety of musical concepts to the fore. He’s given me a variety of concepts earlier than I’ve even written something. I’ve written fairly a couple of songs to the concepts that he’s introduced, so there’s been much more co-writes on the file than prior to now. Once we recorded and blended them, he’s additionally proven a willingness to be concerned in that, so I can bounce concepts off him. Each transfer I make, he’s there to offer me suggestions. Due to the particularness of his involvement now he has that co-producing credit score. He brings a variety of arranging and sonic concepts.

Any views on Synthetic Intelligence (AI) when it comes to the influence on music?

I don’t have a very knowledgeable opinion about it. I’ve had considerations about computer systems in recording music for a very long time in any case. Issues like Professional-Instruments have turn out to be the creator in some ways, clearly AI is a complete different diploma past that, to me there was this synthetic intelligence at work within the music trade for a very long time. It will possibly create some very attention-grabbing issues nevertheless it can also suck the character of the band out. You’re not listening to the character or performer, you’re listening to the pc or the particular person manipulating the pc. That’s wonderful, nevertheless it’s not what I like about music. A part of that’s simply previous man syndrome. [Laughs]

We had the expertise of rising up, going to a gig, popping out and saying my life has simply modified, as this has affected me so deeply. Our sound man throughout soundcheck the opposite day mentioned that you’re the one band he has labored with that doesn’t now have some kind of pc on stage. [Laughs] We’re already sort of prior to now, so I don’t know the place all of it goes.

You toured lately within the spring and likewise on the present July tour. Was there a brand new music that went down significantly nicely?

Our followers are fairly open to listening to new songs however we’re nonetheless figuring it out too. So, I don’t suppose we’re at a stage but the place I really feel we’re actually connecting strongly. That’s largely us, as we haven’t nailed [the songs] but or have that confidence with them but. Individuals appeared excited to listen to and expertise them virtually to be the primary individuals to listen to them reside. It’s arduous for me to pick a music that the majority impressed, however we’ll get there.

You mentioned in earlier interviews that the phrase “Impermanence” sums up this album. That time period jogs my memory of Ian Curtis [of Joy Division] on the Nearer LP and the lyric, “so that is permanence.” Was Ian a giant affect in your writing?

Large, big, for Al and me particularly. We truly had been already in a band by the point Pleasure Division got here alongside, however I’ve at all times thought that the Junkies have been massively influenced by them, when it comes to the ambiance and the area. Initially, the band me and Al had been in earlier than Pleasure Division fashioned had been extra punky, then the Junkies fashioned after Pleasure Division, fairly a very long time afterwards truly, however we at all times carried that entire thought of area, not having devices refill every part, that kind of depth. Once we performed Manchester lately, Al took a street journey to Macclesfield [Ian Curtis’ grave site], his home, and noticed the big mural on the facet of the constructing within the city. There’s undoubtedly a component there that’s at our core.

Are there any artists, new or older, that proceed to get an everyday spin on the turntable?

I nonetheless love the ceremony of placing on a vinyl. I like the formality of it. The punk stuff is what obtained us into taking part in music. The mid ’70s to late ’70s New York and London scenes had been what made Al and I say, “We will do that.” The entire DIY factor proper! Let’s choose up a guitar and determine it out,in order that’s what we did. I do return to that music often.

I nonetheless hearken to a variety of early ’50s and ’60s jazz, which I actually love. It’s international to me and I can’t sit there and analyze it like I can a rock music. The late ’60s, early ’70s, these Neil Younger, Rolling Stones information, they nonetheless have that means to me as a result of that’s my 11- or 12- or 13-year-old self, forming me as an individual.

My dad was into big-band jazz like Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, all that swing stuff. Six youngsters in our household, proper. He’d come residence from work and the very first thing he’d do would placed on that jazz music and he would simply blast it. He had essentially the most wonderful system, quarter inch reel to reel tapes, phenomenal sound. He would simply crank it getting all his shit from the day trip, and the youngsters, we’d simply go nuts, working round the home dancing, leaping on the furnishings. That was our sign to let all of it out. It was a implausible feeling, proper. I actually imagine that introduction to music, there’s three of us on this band, the entire youngsters have ended up very into music. My dad launched us to what music can do for you, how you are feeling, the way you react to it and what it could actually launch. We carried that proper via, and 20 years later we had been forming a band collectively.

“What I Misplaced” and “Shadows 2” might be described because the cornerstones of the file. What’s the dynamic between each songs?

My dad and impermanence is a powerful, connecting theme all through this entire file. My dad suffered from dementia and died earlier than the file was completed, however after the writing was completed. That component of the file is about him devolving into his dementia, disappearing into no matter world he was in, the world of what individuals with dementia go into. “What I Misplaced” is mostly a very easy depiction, even quoting a variety of the stuff he would say to me once I visited him. In his youthful years he was a pilot and flew round northern Quebec. He would at all times come again to that, even when he was very misplaced in that surreal world he fell into, he might bear in mind the flying and convey that again. In lots of ways in which was the best a part of his life, that journey, which he did for about ten years. And likewise music, he might at all times get again to that, so we’d at all times discuss music. I’d placed on some music for him and he would discuss going to forty second Avenue in New York and going to see a few of these jazz bands play. In order that music is admittedly about recollections and communication and that disappearing. It’s a double loss—his lack of reminiscence of who he’s, and my lack of him.

“Shadows” is extra of a mirrored image in the direction of the very finish of his life when the dementia had actually taken maintain of him. He would simply sit and stare out the window and I’d go to him. In some methods these had been essentially the most peaceable and linked moments that I had with him within the final couple of years of his life. He was thus far gone that you simply didn’t attempt to have interaction him in dialog as he didn’t perceive and would get pissed off. We simply loved the presence of one another, it was actually lovely.It’s me him staring out, imagining what he’s seeing, after which me watching and ready. It’s two sides. These are the 2 most literal songs on the file.

Is “Blue Skies” the traditional, hopeful ending for this LP?

I’m glad you see it as a hopeful music, as a result of I see it as a hopeful music too. I had this dialogue with Margo on tour once we had been taking part in it reside, and he or she was singing it as a really unhappy music. I see it as a music of realization, which is a constructive factor. That music was written very early within the course of. Although it’s an awesome ending to the file, at one level I believed it might be an ideal begin to the file. After I take a look at the music now I see it in three sections. The primary part is about my dad, the second part is about mother and the third part is about me. It’s in regards to the flipping of views, proper. The entire message of that music is to get pleasure from and take up the right here and now. It was impressed by Horace, a Roman thinker. The quote went one thing like, “Those that cross the ocean, change the sky, however not their soul.”


Assist Underneath the Radar on Patreon.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here