Members: Alan Anton, bass; Margo Timmins, vocals; Michael Timmins, guitar; Peter Timmins, drums
Who we talked to: Anton
What was it like going back to the Church of the Holy Trinity to record "Trinity Revisited"? (When we recorded "The Trinity Sessions") we only had one day in there and it was also a public space. There were people walking in and out. We probably spent the first seven hours just moving stuff around (to mix the music.) We really didn't think we'd get a sound that we liked out of it. But at the last second, somebody moved a blanket or something . . . and we said, "OK. We're ready to go." We just sort of zipped through the songs in the last five hours of the day. We were kind of exhausted at the end of it and (didn't) really know what we got until the next morning when we started listening to it. We were really thrilled with it. The first time it was only the musicians and the recording engineer. This time, we had, like, 60 crew filming and recording it all. But as soon as we started playing, it was great because we . . . just forgot how great the room sounds.I'd say half of the sound of that record was the . . . acoustic space in there.
What gave you the idea to go back? We were trying to figure out something to do for the 20th anniversary of the record. There was a filmmaker in Quebec who . . . simultaneously came to us and said he'd like to do a live performance. He suggested going back to the church just (for the) setting. That evolved to the idea of a "Trinity Revisited" thing with some other people involved to make it a little bit different. We were kind of nervous about it going into it because we . . . didn't really want to mess with what is our iconic record.
What other artists joined you? Our criteria for the guests was really to find contemporaries whose music we loved and who were somehow influenced by "The Trinity Sessions" hopefully. The first three people (who) came to mind were Natalie (Merchant), Vic (Chesnutt) and Ryan (Adams) and they all said yes. It was great timing (and) everyone was available. In Ryan's case, (we didn't find out) until he arrived that "The Trinity Session" was the reason he started playing music. We never knew that about him. He knew every note of the record.
You're working on another album now, right? It won't be out until the fall at the earliest. (We're) recording that at our studio in Toronto. It's just sort of in the early stages, so we don't really know what it sounds like yet.
And you guys are out on the road now. Have you ever been to York before? You know, I'm really bad at remembering all the places we've been, but I have a feeling that we have played there before. There's also a really cool Web site called www.setlists.fm. We use it all the time because we don't want to play the same songs that we played three years ago in some place.It's really handy.
The music industry's changed a lot in the last 20 years. How has that affected the band? When we first started out, we were doing everything ourselves. We were completely independent (and) had our own label and everything. We just went through this weird cycle of signing with two major labels and then a bigger independent, Rounder Records. (Now) we find ourselves in the exact same position as when we started. What we found is that it's really not that much more work than being with a major label because you spend so much energy just keeping track of what they're doing and not doing. When record companies (were) collapsing like Geffen (Records) did when we were with them, you know, it (was) just a mess.
What inspired you musically when you were growing up? Mike had an older brother who had all these cool records. I guess the most important thing for us was hearing The Velvet Underground when we were, like, 11 years old. It just opened up this whole new world. We were really into . . . the first punk waves in the '70s. The '80s were a pretty bad time for music. It was pretty fractured. Our idea of starting this band in the mid-80s was to . . . reinterpret older songs we loved. So this band started as basically a cover band . . . and (we) eventually started writing our own (music).
Do you feel lucky to still be playing with the same people after 20 years? It was pure luck that Mike's brother and sister ended up in the band. Mike and I had two other bands before that. Mike just mentioned, "you know, I think Margo can sing." Pete was the same way. He never played drums. It's nice because they have a great relationship as brothers and sisters, and I've known them forever. It was a really odd, but nice coincidence.
- ERIN McCRACKEN, FLIPSIDE STAFF
If you go
See Cowboy Junkies perform at Friday at The Capitol Theatre, 50 N. George St. in York. Doors open at 7 p.m. Lee Harvey Osmond is also on the CapLive concert's bill.