Band reflects on more than 2 decades in music
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Twenty-two years — that’s probably a good five years older than your average Beyoncé fan. But it’s also how long the Cowboy Junkies have been painting the dark, brooding landscape of Canadian rock.
Longevity in an instant-hit business suggests at least two things: An infinite wealth of inspiration and the ability to stick together. On the former point, songwriter Mike Timmins says the inspiration comes smoothly enough, but finding a moment aside to actually craft the songs is where his energy’s spent.
“There’s always stuff to write about,” says the father of three young children. “At this point in my life, it’s about getting enough solitary time to write. I’m always sort of collecting ideas and if I have a twinge or an inkling of something, I’ll write it down and try to get it in some form I can get back to. But every now and then I’ve got to spend two or three months away, just writing. You have to really fall into it.”
As for sticking together, the Cowboy Junkies are bound by much more than music. Singer Margo Timmins and drummer Peter Timmins round out the sibling trio, while bassist Alan Anton’s fleshed out the quartet since the group formed in 1985. Part of their unshakable constitution over the decades, Timmins says, is as simple as making sure everyone still wants to be a Junkie.
“Before a new album, we always put our heads together and ask: Do we want to make a new album?” he says. “Is everyone still keen and excited? Do we still want to do this? We don’t want to end up doing it, simply because that’s what we do. We want to make sure we’re still passionate.”
At The End Of Paths Taken, their latest release, is poignantly titled for a band that’s worn the path well. Looking back, is Timmins more impressed with the heights the Junkies’ have reached, or the lengths it’s gone? Well, he says, it’s a bit of both.
“The length is hard without certain heights,” he says, “because to survive this long you have to have hit a certain amount of popularity just to pay the bills. Because, basically, we do make a living off this. But I guess I’m always surprised at how many records we’ve sold over the years and I’m always surprised when we’re (doing a show) and it says sold out.”
And to acknowledge the obvious, Timmins adds, “And we’ve been doing that for a long time.”