Published Jun 15, 2010After 25 years, most bands almost invariably hit cruise control. Yet, Cowboy Junkies are marking this milestone by diving into what promises to be the band's most dynamically productive period yet. The Nomad Series will be comprised of four albums released over the next 18 months, with each focusing on a specific theme. Remnin Park is the first offering, an overarching love story inspired by a small Chinese town where guitarist/songwriter Michael Timmins spent significant time recently. In fact, many of the tracks are based on field recordings he made that paint a vivid picture of the culture there. As well, the group cover songs by two of China's most popular rock artists: Zuoxiao Zuzhou and Xu Wei. That said, Remnin Park is still a Cowboy Junkies record through and through. The band's distinct sound, propelled by Margo Timmins's hypnotic vocals, is intact. What's most invigorating though, is how the change of scenery has ignited Michael's pen, and his always-keen eye for lyrical detail flourishes on songs such as "Little Dark Heart," Cicadas" and "A Few Grains Of Sand." If Remnin Park can be considered an appetizer, then the rest of The Nomad Series should be a smorgasbord.
What motivated you to get so busy now?
Michael Timmins: We've really reached a point where we have the freedom to do virtually anything we want. We have our own label, our own studio and I think hitting this 25-year mark triggered something within all of us to pursue all of these projects we've wanted to sink our teeth into for a while.
What I like most about the songs on Remnin Park is that they possess a similar feeling of discovery some of your early work had after your first American tours.
That's interesting. There certainly was never any intention to have the concept of the album overshadow my usual writing process, or what the essence of the band is. I think that's something people will quickly realize when they hear these songs live and none of the traditional Chinese instrumentation will be there. That was just too much to try to do.
Are there any major misconceptions about China that we in the West still have?
It's a very complicated society, no doubt, but the pop music scene is extremely vibrant. They have their own John Lennon and even their own Nick Cave. It was a great opportunity to expose that more by working with Zuoxiao Zuzhou and Xu Wei. (Latent)