In an industry as volatile as the music business, making a career as an indie band can seem daunting, if not downright impossible. For Tourist Company, the Vancouver-based musical duo of Taylor Swindells and Brenon Parry, they haven’t let the uneasiness of their life choice hinder them in any way. In fact, they seem to have taken that tension and used it as creative tinder.
When they met back in 2009, they knew the ease and openness of collaborating on music together they had was unique. Fast forward to 2013, when they decided to make it official, and formed Tourist Company. They released their debut record Apollo to critical acclaim in their home country and toured it relentlessly across Canada and the world, playing shows in the United States, Europe, and Mexico. Both also took a break from touring together and their own music to lend their talents to touring with other groups before finally coming back to their primary project. After so much time away, both Swindells and Parry felt ready to hole up in the studio and hone in on what their own music needed to say.
On Apollo, Tourist Company explored the parallels between their own lives and the vast mystery of outer space. The music they made on their last album was far-reaching; cinematic and grandiose. This time around they’re keeping both feet firmly planted on Earth, choosing instead to follow a more introspective route. Their new album is rooted in a creative experiment undertaken by Taylor.
“I was thinking about the way we process life in the 21st century. How we interact with tragedy and bad news. Those moments carry a sense of urgency and I wanted that to invade this record,” he said. We often hear artists talk about fanciful escapes - buying property in a remote part of their country, or a sojourn into the wilderness. Taylor’s escape was more restrained, yet his personal parameters he set out for himself yielded the escape he needed. “We had access to this heritage house in a historic neighbourhood with high vaulted ceilings and a grand piano in the front room. I brought all my equipment and set up a creative space with guitars, amps, synths and recording gear, all orbiting around the piano. I started working and stayed up for 72 hours straight, just writing.”
As Taylor began what ended up becoming a 2 year writing process, the outside world seemed to volley between chaos and calm. A rise in nationalism, protests, the increasing presence of artificial intelligence, and natural disasters, all topped off with an overlying feeling of unease in a mounting arms race between two great nuclear nations. “I had just planned a road trip down the West Coast of the United States and was reminiscing about my childhood fascination with volcanoes. They became an image of volatility and uncertainty and these songs took their form: an expression of what processing disaster feels like. ”
Tourist Company's new single "Conflicted/Restricted" is available now on all platforms. A new record will follow in 2020.
Photo by Kevin Hackett