PHOTO CREDIT: Foxx Foto
Towers and Trees
ADRIAN of Tower and Trees…
has been telling me about the band’s new single, Head Down/Heart Up. I ask how they got together and why they went on a hiatus. Adrian discusses their tastes and a fond, recent memory; what gigs they have coming up; if there is going to be more material coming this year – if the U.K. is going to be part of their touring plans.
I was curious to know why the band got back together (after their break) and, if they could choose any artists to support, which would that be – the guys each pick a song to end the interview with.
Hi, Towers and Trees. How are you? How has your week been?
Great! Any week you release new music is a good week - and the response from our fans, and others, to Head Down/Heart Up has been really inspiring.
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourselves, please?
Towers and Trees is an Indie Pop-Rock band from Victoria, British Columbia on Canada’s Pacific Coast. We are Adrian Chalifour (Lead Singer-Songwriter), Dave ‘Shredlinsky’ Zellinsky (Lead Guitar); Dave Arter (Bass) and Jesse Boland (Drums).
...This is Adrian answering the questions today…
T&T started in 2013 as a solo, home-recording project but quickly ‘grew up’ into a full-band when our first single, Montreal, became a surprise local radio hit and we played our first live shows. Those early performances were electric with raw energy and chemistry - and we all quickly realized there was magic in the collective.
Head Down/Heart Up is your new single. Can you reveal the background of the song?
That phrase, ‘head down, heart up’, started as my mantra of sorts during a time of change and uncertainty: we had just decided as a band to go on indefinite hiatus; Jesse (our drummer) announced he was moving across the country; literally, days later; my girlfriend and I found out we were expecting our first baby and, meanwhile, the entire world seemed to be going a little bonkers with Brexit, the refugee-crisis; the Trump presidency, etc.
It was a lot to process at once - and my head became a very unpleasant place for a while. Head Down/Heart Up was my reminder to turn the damn volume knob in my head down and trust my heart to take the wheel. I hope in these noisy, uncertain times; that's a message that resonates with a lot of people.
It seems like the band was not going to return – a hiatus compelled by life events and changes. It seems like you were all in different places. Did you all feel there was no option but put things on-hold?
Putting the project on-hiatus was the best decision we could have made. For a number of reasons, we were all burning out: constant line-up changes in the band, the rollercoaster of making a deeply personal album and watching it fail to gain industry or commercial traction; all the simple, practical challenges of being a professional band on the far West Coast of Canada.
When you start taking out the frustration on each other, at some point, you have to ask: ‘Is this worth it? Is there a vision here?’. The short answer was ‘no’, but there was a sense that, if we put it down now before the damage was permanent, maybe we’d find a reason to pick it up again...
PHOTO CREDIT: Steve Leung
What provoked the decision to come back together? Do you feel renewed and repurposed now?
The hiatus was like releasing a valve - and a lot of those big life changes came bursting out right after the decision. Jesse moved to Toronto, Shred started his side project, MIND, and launched a sex app called BedBeats (seriously); Dave went back to school - and I became a father. Quite quickly, after that initial release, the creative chemistry just drew us together again. I started sharing demos from Germany to Jesse in Toronto (and the Daves in Victoria) and, eventually, there was enough there that it was like: ‘Okay…do we do this?’.
The break was important, but the piece that really makes a next chapter possible is a renewed vision. Vision is what can keep you on course when it gets hard or crazy or messy, which it will and fast.
Is there more material coming along? May we see an E.P. soon?
We’ve recorded three songs with producer Ryan Worsley that we’re very excited about. Our hope is to use those three to find a label, grant funding: whatever we need to finish making the record. We decided to release H.D.H.U. now to give our fans a sense of what this next chapter is about and make some new fans along the way - but we may sit on the others for a little while until some of those other pieces land.
Do you remember when music came into your lives? What made you all realise music was where you wanted to be?
Each of us will have a different answer but, for me, I remember hearing U2’s Joshua Tree album for the first time at twelve and thinking: ‘This is what music can be’. I realize U2 is quite a polarizing influence to cite but the fact that they could create songs that felt so big, and yet so earnest and close to the chest, felt very important and vital to me.
Every T&T song starts from the heart and, if it can inspire people to lower their guard and connect in a meaningful way, even just for a moment; I feel like it’s done its job.
Can we see you tour soon? What gigs do you have coming up? Will you come and play over in the U.K. at all? Do you like British music?
We have tour dates here on our home turf of Western Canada and a fly-out to Canadian Music Week in Toronto - but nothing on the International map quite yet. Touring Western Europe and the U.K. is an explicit high-priority for us…so we’re casting a lot of lines across the pond right now and hopeful one will catch soon.
If you had the chance to support any artist, and have any rider, who and what would that entail?
I think we’d have to go with Peter Gabriel.
Our guitar player, Shred, is responsible for properly introducing me to his genius and, while we represent a wide and disparate range of musical influences in this band, I think Peter Gabriel is one we could all land on musically, creatively and as a songwriter. Our rider would contractually obligate Peter and Tony Levin to have beers and jam with us every off-day of the tour.
PHOTO CREDIT: Adam Lee
While it may not be obvious on H.D.H.U.; a lot of the new music we’re working on is, actually, heavily influenced by mid-late-1980s Peter Gabriel.
What do you all hope to achieve in 2018?
If we can keep our heads down, hearts up - and keep working hard to get our music in front of people - we’ll be happy (smiles).
Have you each got a favourite memory from your time in music – the one that sticks in the mind?
There was this great moment on day one of this latest recording session. We’re back in the band van together for the first time since going on hiatus; it’s five-thirty in the morning and we’re heading to catch the ferry boat from Vancouver Island, where we live, to the recording studio in Vancouver. Our guitarist, Shred, pulls out a Go-Pro; mounts it on the dashboard and declares, with gravitas, to the group: “Guys, I’ve decided to shoot footage of this entire weekend for a mini-documentary I’m working on…”
Suddenly, the Go-Pro beeps loudly and the light turns red and, without missing a beat, he adds: “At least I was until the battery died just now.” We all started laughing that uncontrollable, sleep-deprived bell-laughter - and I realized I hadn’t laughed this hard since the last time we were together in our van. It was a simple, yet brilliant, affirmation that we’d made the right choice to do this.
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
As under-qualified as an obscure, fully-independent Indie band from the far corner of Canada is to give advice… (Smiles).
I suppose I’d encourage new artists to define and own the ‘why’ of their music; define and own the parameters of your success. In the absence of that, you can become like straw in the wind in this business.
I’ve watched a number of peers contort their art to fit some industry mould-of-the-day; get no further ahead (by it) and lose their identity in the process. We may not have ‘made it’ - but, every time we pick up our instruments, we know exactly why we’re doing what we do.
IN THIS PHOTO: Luca Fogale
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
Luca Fogale is an artist from Vancouver B.C. who we participated/competed in a big radio contest a few years ago. Luca’s another artist who puts his heart at the very forefront of his music - and it’s lovely to experience. We occupy very different spaces, musically, but I feel like our hearts speak the same language.
Do you all get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
We’re lucky to live in one of the most beautiful places on the planet on Vancouver Island; so, you’re never more than fifteen minutes away from a hike in the woods, a jog along the ocean or even a swim (if you’re brave). Our last album was called The West Coast - and draws heavily from this place.
That said; we could probably stand to ‘chill’ a little more than we do right now.
Finally, and for being good sports; you can each choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
Shred (Lead Guitarist): The Man by The Killers
I can attest to this, definitely, being Shred’s jam lately
Dave Arter (Bass): Want You Back by HAIM
This album will get played a LOT in our tour van (starting next week).
Jesse (Drums): Knocking at the Door by Arkells
Arkells are, probably, the best live band in Canada right now - and have worked hard to earn every bit of that title
Adrian: Okay; so, everyone went with party jams but, since I pumped his tires earlier, I’m sticking with Luca Fogale and his latest: I Don’t Want to Lose You
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PHOTO CREDIT: Foxx Foto