Published Apr 16, 2014You'd think that Timber Timbre, the downtrodden folk-blues project helmed by Taylor Kirk, had finally embraced their eerie side. Their fourth LP, Creep On Creepin' On, was released in 2011 to great acclaim, including a spot on the Polaris Music Prize shortlist and two Juno nominations. But not all is as it seems. "I consciously wanted to move away from motifs that would have people describing the project as 'spooky' or 'creepy.' I didn't necessarily want to perpetuate that image," muses Kirk.
The project's fifth full-length, Hot Dreams, embraces a more rock-based sound, marking a deliberate departure from the supernatural imagery and explicit haunting of their previous records. "I think I kind of exploited those motifs at one time, probably because of a lack of confidence in what I was singing about and in some ways to mask my kind of vulnerability in what I was trying to put forth. I feel a bit more confident and don't feel like I should exploit that."
Instead of relying on the supernatural, Kirk looked more toward his cinematic roots and inspirations. "I've certainly been cognisant of my influences and been influenced by film composers. Specifically for this record, it was a bit more of a direct referent. Like I was sending little teasers of '70s films, films that I really love, to band mates." Inspired by films such as Rosemary's Baby and Chinatown and the score work of luminaries including Ennio Morricone and Bernard Herrmann, Kirk attempted "not necessarily to emulate the arrangements but somehow emulate the feeling or sensation of these scores."
Kirk, the project's founder and initial sole member, has slowly grown it to include more collaboration. Creep On Creepin' On was recorded as a three-piece with violinist Mika Posen and multi-instrumentalist Simon Trottier; the latter became a full-blown co-collaborator on Hot Dreams. "Writing had always been a very solitary kind of thing for me, so it just felt freeing and easy to collaborate with somebody else and to not have it be a… not that it is a burden, but just a bit of a pressure that's self-imposed, to create enough material for a record and it's nice to share both the benefits and the burden of that process." Kirk divulged that he initially struggled with the partnership, that he "would try to change something that he had written when it wasn't necessary to do so," but ultimately is proud of the resulting record and the new methods taken to execute it.
These risks can be heard especially in two of the album's cuts, the title track and "Grand Canyon," described by Kirk as not only the album's biggest risks but also the tracks he's most looking forward to playing live. "Grand Canyon" explicitly evokes more of the Western imagery inspired by Morricone, composer of the iconic theme from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. While Kirk has never been to the Grand Canyon, the coast inspired much of the album. "I biked through Laurel Canyon in Los Angeles about a year ago, and that was kinda where I started to assemble all of these bits and pieces of ideas that I had collected over the past two or three years of touring Creep On. So yeah, there was something about Hollywood and the lore of that place, Los Angeles and Laurel Canyon, all of the mythology, that age, that time, that golden era, which produced a lot of the films I had mentioned before."
Many filmmakers have also noticed the music's cinematic quality, several of which have made music videos for the band's songs. Five of the ten tracks from Creep On Creepin' On became music videos, each by a different group of artists, and it looks like there are more on the horizon for Hot Dreams in addition to the already-released video for the album's title track.
On top of touring, and conceiving Hot Dreams, Kirk spent part of the past few years working on "a couple of film projects that came up. Some of them successful, some of them not so successful." Kirk, who attended film school, admitted that he's "always been very interested in making music for film. I thought that, if I were going to have a career in music at all, it would be doing that."
One of those projects involved the 2013 horror film The Last Exorcism Part II. While Timber Timbre's song "Demon Host," from their self-titled record, plays over the credits, Kirk reveals that he was initially tapped to score the film. "I was really excited about this, it was our first horror project ever and I thought we would be very good. I thought this would be very easy for us, to create music for a horror film, but it just didn't work out. We just didn't seem to get it, we didn't hit it off and the producers changed and they changed the whole theme around the film and sadly they didn't end up using this music. But we created a lot of great stuff and some of this has been reworked and will come out under another moniker." One of these tracks will be the first part of "Resurrection Drive," of which "Part II" appears on Hot Dreams.
If that's not enough, Kirk has even more music in the wings. "We made an instrumental recording with some auxiliary players that hasn't been released yet. I also recorded a five-song EP that pares it down to simple arrangements, which will maybe come out next year." Kirk described the EP as a collection of revenge and murder ballads.
As for Hot Dreams, Kirk is more than satisfied with his project's latest offering. "It represents a year to me, it represents 2013, which had a lot of great things about it. The year was really consumed by this record and how this record kind of ruined my life a little bit, but I really love it. I dunno, it represents the best thing I've ever done. I'm very proud."