Canadian folk-rock legends Cowboy Junkies already have 15 albums under their belts, and triumphantly returned for their first effort in six years earlier this month with a new record titled All That Reckoning. Ahead of the band’s visit to The Birchmere this week, guitarist and songwriter Michael Timmins answered questions on inspirations, recording, and visiting the DC area throughout their 33 year career.
On Tap: How has your sound and your recording process evolved since you started out?
Michael Timmins: The one thing that has remained constant with our recording process is that we usually try and record the band “live” off the floor of the studio. When we are working on a song we try and keep the “tape” running and hopefully we catch the song at that moment when it still has the energy of something new. After we have captured that bedtrack, we approach the rest of the recording from a fairly conventional place, overdubbing instruments and ideas individually.
OT: What are some of the major themes and inspirations for your new album?
MT: The main theme is reckoning, personal and social reckoning. The inspiration comes from personal experience and the world all around.
OT: Are there any artists or bands who you have felt particularly inspired by recently? How did they influence your new work, if at all?
MT: Alan [Anton] and I have always been big Nick Cave fans. I think his last couple of albums influenced the sound of this album: the quiet intensity and the use of unidentifiable keyboard and guitar generated sounds, sounds that supported the intensity of the lyric.
OT: As a band with an impressive career spanning 30 years, what advice would you give to bands and musicians who are just starting out in their careers?
MT: Make sure that you have an alternate way of earning a living. Seriously.
OT: Have you played the Birchmere before? Do you have any specific memories or stories from playing the DC area?
MT: We have played the Birchmere many times. DC has always been one of our favorite areas to play. We had lots of success here before most other areas. We played the old 9:30 Club back in the late 80s. That was quite a trip, with the dressing rooms leading to the tunnels under the old Ford Theatre. We’ve also had the pleasure of playing Wolf Trap a few times, which is one of the better venues in the entire country.
Cowboy Junkies play The Birchmere on Thursday, July 26. Show starts at 7:30 pm. For tickets, visit www.birchmere.com.
For more information on All That Reckoning, visit www.cowboyjunkies.com.
The Birchmere: 3701 Mount Vernon Avenue , Alexandria, VA; 703-549-7500; www.birchmere.com