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Townies

This album is only available as a digital download or as a digital stream. You can find it here:

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A conversation with Andy Maize and Michael Timmins:

MT: Back in the before-times, around February 2020, Andy and I were having a beer watching The Leafs give another underwhelming performance in a losing cause when Andy turned to me and said that he had this idea or desire to record a series of songs that are short and to the point, maybe contain just one musical or lyrical idea and then move on to the next song. I mentioned that I was in the process of demoing some film cues which were basically a series of short one theme musical ideas. So I sent him a bunch of them.

AM: Initially my idea was to try and capture the essence and spirit of childhood and this place called  “The Town”. Mike and I both spent our childhood in The Town of Mount Royal (TMR) a suburb of Montreal. We didn’t know each other but we shared a lot of the same friends and experiences and we often talk about what a magical place it was to spend a childhood, especially for a kid between the ages of 6 and 14. It was more Norman Rockwell than most of middle-America, a place where you spent your days freely roaming through neighborhoods on your bike, playing shinny on the endless supply of public outdoor rinks, and generally getting in to whatever kid-trouble you could find as long as you were home by dinner.

MT: So we did one session and recorded six or seven pieces and we both loved the energy and spontaneity that this approach was capturing…and then Covid descended and we all retreated into our caves. I was able to continue working on my own  in my studio and continued to experiment with these weird musical audio clips and every now and then I’d send a bunch to Andy.

AM: After a couple of months, when restrictions were starting to be lifted, the two of us got back together to continue the project. But I noticed that some of the lyrics that I had been writing over the past several weeks had begun to mutate from being inspired by these childhood memories to being these more existential reflections on memory and expectation. The pandemic had obliterated the horizon and had crept into our project. I wasn’t always sure about what I was writing about, but the situation that we all found ourselves in seemed to be infusing the songs with a gravity and a significance greater than just reflections about growing up in TMR.

MT: And then George Floyd was murdered and the lyrics that Andy started bringing in morphed again and took on a tone of doubt and frustration. The initial idea behind this project was to not necessarily create a project at all. We were just recording because we were enjoying what we were creating and it gave us an opportunity to do what we do and to catch up on each others lives. But as the songs began to pile up we began to notice this subconscious string that was running through and connecting all the songs and how some of them that were initially about one thing, had now taken on a new meaning. The outside world was seeping in.

AM: We began to talk about how to properly present these songs and how to give them context, because they did need some context for this thing to make any sense. But how to do that in these days of streaming, where there are no liner notes, and in these days of Covid where there are no live performances.

MT: I had always felt that many of the songs had this theatrical feel to them. Listening to them I was visualizing Andy on a bare stage with a solo spot on him. Part of that magical childhood in TMR is my memory of the album “Jesus Christ Superstar (a rock opera)” being brought into our kitchen by my older brother…seriously, that album has had a profound effect on me.

AM: The more that we talked about how to properly represent these songs the more we came back to this idea of a play. But we had no desire or the necessary talent to create an actual play, we knew that we were creating an album, so we hit on this idea of an “audioplay”. This is as much a “play” as Jesus Christ Superstar is an “opera”, but we figured that with the current popularity of podcasts and audiobooks, the idea of some stage direction and spoken word in the middle of an album would work and wouldn’t be too off-putting for most listeners and would give us the mechanism to deliver our context.

MT: But we still had to figure out what the thread was that joined all these songs together. As Andy was bringing in these songs and writing them in real time, and as the events in the world began to force everyone to reconsider their place in the world, the emotions and themes being expressed by these songs began to swirl and became, all at once, clearer and greyer and more concrete and ,more ephemeral. In many conversations, we talked about how we needed a “book” to give the songs context but also realised that we couldn’t force a false narrative over top, because the whole thing would get too cumbersome and pull it away from what it is, which is an album of music. Eventually we stumbled on the idea of presenting these songs as a journey, but a non-linear journey, like life, and not necessarily a physical journey, but a metaphorical journey of transformation from innocence to vulnerability.

AM: Once we had the overarching theme, the framework for the play became more obvious. The songs dictated where they fell and how they were grouped, mainly reflecting the situation during which they were written.  And the scenes (Opening, The Town, Plague, Say Their Names, Closing) were dictated by the songs. Presto…an audioplay. We had set off on a journey without knowing where we were going while using signposts along the way to guide us and ended up with a document chronicling an important point in our lives.

MT:…but ultimately it’s a bunch of really cool songs with some great grooves, groovy guitar licks and beautiful vocal performances.

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