Tavis E. Triance has been one of the more intriguing figures in Canadian indie rock, ever since his days with Montreal’s Royal Mountain Band and Spoon River. His writing and performing style has been described as Dylan-meets-Randy Newman, while his tall, lanky frame and latter-day hippie image always seemed ideally suited for rock stardom.
However, with his latest project, Tavis E. Triance & The Natural Way—whose debut album, A Brief Respite From The Terror Of Dying, was released in June on Tonic Records—he reflects on his recent, more domesticated existence living on British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast with his wife and two young children.
Writing primarily on keyboards, and without thinking of full-band arrangements for the first time, Triance went into some dark and disturbing territory while crafting his ten new songs, but ultimately emerged with a sense of hope as reflected by the album’s title. Those themes were brought out further when Triance set about recording with many of his old Montreal friends, including Brad Barr of the Barr Brothers, who together created A Brief Respite's lush, hazy sounds. Anyone with an appreciation of the ‘70s singer/songwriter era will want to dive deep into this record.
Tavis E. Triance & The Natural Way officially launch A Brief Respite From The Terror Of Dying in Vancouver on Sept. 2 at the Biltmore Cabaret. For more information, go to tavistriance.com.
What makes this project stand apart from your previous work?
One of the more notable things is the fact that I wrote and had been performing much of the record on piano and Fender Rhodes. This departure from guitar-based songwriting seemed to steer me in a new and interesting direction.
Are there any particular songs that you feel capture your overall vision for the record?
I don't know that I came to the record with a specific articulable vision. Content wise it is a bit of a recurring meditation on my feelings of mortality. The album came together musically as a result of the switch in instrumentation that I mentioned earlier, the collaborations and contributions I received from the players and the recording techniques suggested by David Smith at [Montreal’s] Breakglass [Studio]. The song that I think captures what was born at the end of it for me is “Shoot Out the Eyes of the Sun.”
What’s been the biggest change in your life in the past year?
It’s been the birth of our second child and by extension the birth of her older brother a year and a half before that.
Some notable Montreal musicians are part of this band. How would describe the music scene in Montreal at the moment?
While I don't know quite what the music scene in Montreal has been doing, my experience of the city and of the musicians that I know there has been one of intense collaboration and mutual admiration. Some of the people that I respect the most and count among my closest friends live there or have lived there.
What are your fondest musical memories as you were growing up?
Driving down the Coquihalla highway with my father listening to Bob Dylan's Biograph set. I felt at that moment the fact that my dad and I possessed a shared musical admiration for this sort of music. He passed away shortly after that without having heard many of my songs, but this particular shared snippet of time has stuck with me.