Posted in Arts, Top Arts

The Tourist Company explores space in Apollo

Taylor Swindells took time out of busy tour schedule to chat about the inspiration for the band’s latest album

the-tourist-company-press-photo-credit-brian-chan-photography
Image Credits: Brian Chan

The Tourist Company’s new album, Apollo, is out of this world, if you’ll forgive the pun.

But seriously. The album is catchy and fresh, foregoing the typical guitar-driven indie sound for of keyboards and synths. On top of this expansive base they’ve layered everything from tambourines to trumpets, with echoey vocals and lyrics that yearn for the expanse of outer space.

On the album we see songs like “Sputnik,” “Astronaut,” and “Weightless and Stranded.” Where did this space theme come from? On the phone with The Peak, lead vocalist Taylor Swindells said it stems from his childhood.

“When I was five or six I was really obsessed with outer space; I was fixated on it. I remember we used to watch these documentaries, and a few years ago all that imagery came flooding back to me,” he explained.

Apollo was born during the Peak Performance Project in 2014, when the Tourist Company was busy proving their worth against other local bands, placing third overall. Swindells said he brought the substance of the album to his bandmates — Jillian Levey (vocals/keys), Josué Quezada (bass), and Brenon Parry (drums) — and they added their own flavour and parts to the mix.

The new album has pushed the band away further from their folk origins into a new expansive electronica. This is partly due to Swindells’ choice to write from a piano rather than a guitar. “I started as a classical piano player, so I wanted to step back and write this record from the keyboard, which was a big shift,” he said. “Making the piano the driving force, with guitar as an accent, definitely leaves more room for other sounds and makes the music a lot more cinematic.”

The Tourist Company rejects being confined to one genre, but in terms of musical influences they cite a mixed bag of orchestral-electronic musicians and local indie groups, including Son Lux, Death Cab for Cutie, Arcade Fire, Royal Canoe, We are the City, and Jordan Klassen.

At the moment, the four band members are on a whirlwind cross-Canada tour with Apollo. Working their way through over 20 shows in seven provinces, from Halifax to Victoria in just over a month, they’re truly living up to their name. Swindells told The Peak the tour has been great, and one of the surprising highlights so far was their show in Quebec City.

“It was kind of a last-minute addition to the list, but the venue was right down the street from the old city [in Quebec] and the old city walls. The owner was really fun and boisterous and it was kind of a perfect storm of all these things we weren’t expecting,” said Swindell.

They’re rounding off their tour in BC this week with shows in Kelowna, Rossland, Victoria, Nanaimo, and then finally Vancouver on November 26. What should we expect for their show at the Fox Cabaret? The entirety of Apollo album played “good old-fashioned indie-style,” with tons of energy and lots happening on stage.

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