The Tourist Company

Photo credit Shaun Huberts

Photo credit Shaun Huberts

Vancouver, BC

Having recently been accepted into the 2014 Peak Performance Project, and about to embark on their second tour, things sure are heating up for Vancouver band - The Tourist Company. We chatted with them about their strategy entering PEAK, their musical influences, and funny tour stories!




G: How did The Tourist Company get started?

TC: Our band was born in the studio. Taylor had been writing songs on his own for years; he finally had the time and money to record some of it in February 2013 so he asked Brenon and Jill to help him out with the sessions. Sometime during the recording sessions our engineer asked the obvious (yet somehow unthought-of) question, “What are you guys going to do with this music?” That’s when we decided to make a band of it.

Brenon went on a name-listing rampage and came up with a list of umpteen ideas; we eventually settled on The Tourist Company because of its feeling of transience of never staying put. We have ambitions to travel more and we like the idea of avoiding prolonged contentment in any given situation and moving forward. After finishing our first record we took a short break over the summer before playing our first show in September that year and we’ve been writing, creating, and playing shows ever since.

G: What was your first tour like, and how do you think this next one will be different? What are you looking forward to the most?

TC: Traveling through Western Canada in November is always risky, but our first foray into the world of touring was an incredible experience. We played for some awesome people, and made great friends. The day after our first show in Calgary we had to make it back to Kelowna through a blizzard (which was an extremely unwelcome surprise), so we had to leave at the crack of dawn… Let’s just say that Jill doesn’t function well when she’s running low on sleep. We made it to Revelstoke and stopped at a Denny’s for brunch and she was more than a little loopy. She ordered nachos and a few bites into the meal began to realized that they were spicy. "Normal Jill" can handle spice logically. "Sleep-deprived Jill" has a little more difficulty. Her first instinct was pretty good; she downed all of her water in a hurry, but the relentless burning of the jalapenos persisted. Our manager, Alex, informed her that dairy helps to nullify the spice of the jalapeños, and next thing we know we look over and she has taken the sour cream (intended for her nachos) and smeared it all over her lips.

Our summer tour will look different mostly because only Jill and Taylor are making the trip. Playing as a duo places more emphasis on the songwriting and creates a different dynamic, but we’re really looking forward to carrying the same energy into this tour that we do to all our shows.

G: How do you think your sound might evolve over time? Has it already changed from your first album to your EP?

TC: That’s kind of a hard thing to predict! We definitely want our sound to be constantly expanding. Our goal with each song we write is to build off of what we are already doing and go somewhere unexpected and fresh. The sounds and tones of our first record paved the way for the Space Race EP, and everything we learned making that record will definitely influence our future works.

G: Lets talk about the Peak Performance Project! What is your strategy going into this competition? (Congratulations!)

TC: Thanks! We’re really blown away by the opportunity to be part of the project. Ever since the announcement we’ve been brainstorming and planning what the next few months will look like for us with the PEAK and there will definitely be a few exciting announcements in our near future. We really just want to keep doing what we’re doing; work hard at our live show, make the most of all the playing opportunities we have and keep working on expanding and growing our sound. 

G: What are some things you'd like to improve upon as a band through this experience?

TC: We’re still pretty new to the music scene, so we’re really looking forward to learning more about the business side of the industry. Any time a band gets the chance to have what they do critiqued by industry professionals is a huge gift, so we really want to make the most of that. Our live show is probably what we’d like to see refined the most through this process, so we can give our friends and fans the best show possible when they make the effort to come see us play.

G: What are you looking forward to the most about the competition?

TC: There are so many incredible bands in the PEAK this year both in BC and Alberta, so Bootcamp is definitely going to be a highlight of the project for us. We’re really looking forward to meeting the other groups, and getting to know them over the course of the week. The songwriting part is also going to be a blast, so we’re pretty excited about that too.

G: Who are your main musical influences?

TC: Difficult question! Our main influences are really varied considering our musical pasts. Lately our inspiration playlists are made up of We Are The City, Jordan Klassen, Patrick Watson, Royal Canoe, Arcade Fire, Half-moon Run, Aidan Knight, Sufjan Stevens, Lord Huron and The National. Brenon’s metal background mixes with Taylor and Jill’s alternative folk-pop tendencies to create the odd blend of genres our music is currently.

G: How do you feel about the local music scene in Vancouver?

TC: Vancouver is home to so many incredible musicians and artists. There are so many talented people in our city! Unreal. The CBC Searchlight competition was an eye-opener for us. As the rounds went on everyone was so supportive and encouraging. With so much great talent around, it really pushes us to keep getting better at our craft. We’re happy to call this place home.

G: When you listen to a song, what part stands out the most to you?

TC: On the first listen melodies and instrumentation definitely stand out the most. Taylor is a nerd for weird time signatures so he gets really excited and starts tapping along any time he hears something interesting in a song we’re listening to. Lyrics aren’t ignored, but unless they’re something really crazy they aren’t the first thing noticed by most of us. We do enjoy the subtleties of a well-written song very much though. 

G: What is the message you want audience to get out of your music?

TC: Our music is written to be catchy and uplifting; basically we want people who hear us to have a tune stuck in their heads and a dance in their step. Our lyrics tell stories of hope (some historical, some not) that are about the normal wear and tear of human existence.

G: What can people expect from the Tourist Company at a live show?

TC: A whole boatload of energy! We have a blast playing together, and we hope that is obvious when we play. Expect a lot of dancing on stage, dynamic and diverse songs, and a whole spectrum of emotions throughout the show. Also expect to see Brenon twirl his drumsticks like a ninja, and Taylor march his way to some unexplainable destination.

G: What has been the biggest challenge you've faced as a band?

TC: The greatest challenge we’re currently facing is strictly geographical. Jill and Taylor live in the same city, but organizing schedules with Brenon living up on the coast for his job and Josue living in Abbotsford is more than a little difficult. We’re looking forward to the fall when things return to a more normal state!

G: Thank you for chatting with us!