Like a Mountain

Timber Timbre on Improvising, Drunk Fans and Breaking Bad

Photo anna.k.o.

Timber Timbre has been morphing into a full band over the last two years, one more capable to entrance their ever-growing audience. Now violin, lapsteel and the constant kick drum frame singer/songwriter Taylor Kirk’s formerly acoustic vibrations, deepening the mystic trip he’s ready to lead you on.

“It’s been a big transition,” said guitarist Simon Trottier, who has been expanding Kirk’s sound on the last two records. “Taylor used to do solo shows, using a loop pedal and adding layers of vocals and playing guitar. When Mika and I started playing with Taylor we were improvising around the songs.”

Trottier joined the murky depths of Timber Timbre alongside violinist Mika Posen in what was essentially a live experiment. Since then a drummer has made appearances, but the three permanent members’ chemistry has evolved their deep, woodsy folk into a sound much more their own.

“The first time I met Mika it was five minutes just before playing at Sala Rossa two-and-a-half years ago,” said Trottier. The two backing musicians slowly became more involved in the creative process, but this ambient approach of ornamenting Kirk’s dark compositions remains tethered to their brooding haunt.

“Taylor has the idea of where he wants to go with each song, but on this record there are three instrumental songs we wrote together,” said Trottier. “We’re bringing ideas too, but he makes the last decision. I think every band needs someone to make the big decisions.”

Timber Timbre is now a full-time job for the three musicians, something Trottier is very happy about, even if it slows down side projects.

“I have another project called Ferris Wheel, we’re going to finally release the album in December, but we finished it a year and a half ago, with people from The Luyas and a guy from Belle Orchestre,” he said.

Starting off as an acoustic folk project, Timber Timbre’s sound has always been an intimate experience, one best experienced outside the usual context of a packed bar. Last spring’s Creep On Creepin’ On made the band’s sound bigger than ever with the help of guest musicians and higher production value.

Even so, the band avoids bars when they can.

“We’re sitting on chairs playing multiple instruments and don’t have a drummer, so there’s no way to jump around and entertain the drunk people,” said Trottier.

“The reason we like to play in theatres or churches is because when you’re playing songs like ‘Demon Host,’ it’s hard to get the attention of people at the bar,” he said. “It’s easier for us to create an atmosphere to share with the crowd in those venues.”

The trio’s Canadian folk brew may be just as mysterious, but it’s being digested by more and more listeners. Creep On made this year’s Polaris short list, and “Magic Arrow” was used last year in the AMC series Breaking Bad.

“We played a show in Los Angeles in September 2009 and there were people who place music in movies, and one of them said, ‘we want to use your song in Breaking Bad,’” said Trottier. “I didn’t know the show but I think Taylor had heard about it.”

“Yesterday I watched the end [of] season three,” he said. “I love that show. It’s so good.”

The band was happy with the TV spot, but are itching to be more involved in the creative process for any film music made in the future. It’s something the three members want to tackle together, and the plans are already in motion.

“We’d like to do soundtracks. When you’re doing soundtracks you get more input, you get to talk with the director,” said Trottier. “The three of have been asked to work on a movie, but I can’t say more right now. We’re going to approach it as a band.”

Timber Timbre will be playing around Quebec Oct. 5-10. See their website for details