Interview: Towers and Trees

Chalifour and co.
Chalifour and co.
(Photo by Brett Reid)

We caught up with Adrian Chalifour, founder of Victoria-based indie-folk collective Towers and Trees, to talk about beards. Then we took a well-deserved break so Adrian could interview himself. A full transcript of the interview can be found below:

First off, can you introduce yourself? 

Sure! My name is Adrian Chalifour, and I’m the songwriter and founder of Towers and Trees, a Victoria based band-slash-collective that formed a couple years ago. It was originally an EP project that I recorded, and since then we‘ve all been having an absolute blast getting to know each other, building a full band sound, and playing shows around BC.

What’s going on with Towers and Trees right now?

Right now things are pretty busy for us, actually. We had a really incredible 2013, which was kind of our big push year. We released our album in the fall of 2012 and six song EP. So 2013 was a really cool year, we had this song called “Montreal” that performed quite well and got onto the radio in Victoria. Then it got us into the Peak Performance Project in Vancouver, which put us onto a provincial stage. We played a bunch of festivals, made a bunch of new fans, did music videos… it was a crazy year.

I took the month of December off, got out of the country, unwound, came back, and now this year in the wake of the Peak Performance Project, we’ve been trying to build on that momentum and connect with some of the new fans. We’re doing our first BC/Alberta tour in April for 10 days with the River and the Road. That’s super exciting, it’s on the top of our list right now.

Equally close to the top of our “cool things” list is that we’re starting work on our follow up full length album. It’s all written, and now we’re in the early stages of recording scratch tracks and making recording plans. We just found out we got a demo grant from FACTOR, which is awesome. We’ll push hard with that, and we’re hoping to release by the fall.

Do the River and the Road have a lot of beards? They sound like they have beards.

There’s going to be a lot of beards on this tour. There’s also a lot of geographical-slash-cartographical references. It’s going to be Towers and Trees and the River and the Road.

Alliteration, too.

Totally. We decided to call it the Landmarks Tour, and there’s this poster that looks like a map with your towers and trees and your rivers and roads on it. In Calgary we’re playing with a band called I Am The Mountain so it’s full on geography. In Nanaimo we’ve got Gold and Youth.

It’s just Towers and Trees and the River and the Road and Gold and Youth.

No one has enough spare time to say that. Do you have any tips to survive sitting in a van for a month?

Well, we haven’t actually done it before. I’m itching to do it. We’re going to take all our tips from the bearded gentlemen of the River and the Road, they’re a little more seasoned than we are. Anyime Towers and Trees hits the road though, for a little spurt, we just really enjoy each other’s company. Laughter’s the best medicine when you’re in a van with stinky bearded dudes. Also, we’ll be delving into the rice cooker recipes. You can save a lot of money eating and drinking humbly. We’re rocking the rice cooker and the hibachi.

Speaking of road trips, you guys collaborated with Lydia Hol for the Peak Performance Project to make a road-themed song. Are there any other artists that you think would make a sweet collab?

All of them. We love jamming and playing with people, there are a lot of island bands that we’ve played with. We did a video last year during the CBC Searchlight Competition with a bunch of Victoria artists: the Archers, Amy Woods, Scotty Hill, and Maureen Washington. We covered an Aidan Knight song, so it was very Victoria. It was a blast. I’m hoping that we’ll get to do something with the River and the Road to get nine sweaty, bearded dudes on stage.

We’re looking forward to it. We’ve also got some evidence here that you interviewed yourself a couple years ago for  your website. Do you mind taking over?

AC: [Laughter.] You’ve done your research.

[Interviewer voice] So Adrian, one question that you get a lot is “where did the name Towers and Trees come from?” Bands often agonize over names and have a huge laundry list of what they look at before they land on the band name. Blood, sweat, tears, and fisticuffs. So how did you land on Towers and Trees?

Great question, first of all. It came very easily, and it came very definitively. I never had any other plans for any other names. I think the reason that I called it Towers and Trees was when I formed the project, it was a solo recording project. Just for myself, then my friend Ben [Lubberts] came on board to produce it and joined it.  I was really looking for a sense of home, I had been moving around throughout BC, living in some pretty arid regions in the Interior. I didn’t feel entirely at home when I visited Victoria, or Vancouver, or the Interior.

Thinking about a broader definition of home, I felt like towers and trees both felt integral to my DNA. There was something about the two that just felt like home to me, and I wanted my music to feel like home.

Do you ever worry about getting into legal battles with T&T supermarket?

[Laughter.] No, because I’ve never heard of it.

Never? It’s pretty much the only place that sells animal crackers in Canada.

I guess my shortfall is that it’s been a long time since I wanted animal crackers. There is a towersandtrees.com, it’s a design firm in San Francisco or something. I was pretty choked when I found that. I googled the heck out of it though, I wanted to know if there were any other bands. There was a death metal band called Trees to Towers, but they’re broken up. I would have called them up and asked if we could cover each other’s songs.

You should cover some death metal anyway. Is there anything you’d like to say before we wrap things up?

AC: Just a general shout-out for people to come to the shows. Thanks for getting in touch with us, we really appreciate it!

LL: Thanks for taking the time to chat. Keep it real, harbour seal.

Towers and Trees launch their BC/Alberta tour on April 17th. Full tour dates can be found here.

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