Behind the Curtain with Michael Timmins of the Cowboy Junkies

The Cowboy Junkies make their way to town on Fri., July 20 behind their newest album, All That Reckoning. The band has experienced much success during a 32-year career, including their induction into the Canadian Music Industry Hall of Fame (2015). Our Deputy Director of Programming & Curator, Thérèse LaGamma, recently caught up with guitarist Michael Timmins to discuss the band’s evolution, longevity, and signature sound.

What inspired the quiet sound of your early recordings?

It came from many factors. A primary one was that Margo sang so quietly that we had to adjust our volume to her approach. We also did all of our early rehearsing in a garage in downtown Toronto. And after a few visits by the police because of noise complaints, we started to turn down the volume and eventually found that we liked the way we could relate to each other at low sound levels.

When did the breakthrough in the US market occur?

The release of The Trinity Session on RCA in 1988 was the big breakthrough, followed quickly by appearances on Saturday Night Live and The Tonight Show.

What can fans look forward to when you hit the stage at The Music Hall?

We’ll be playing a handful of songs from our new album, but also a lot of material from all different eras of our catalog. We’ll probably throw in a few obscure songs and maybe a new cover song. We change the set every night but we always try to cover most bases.

What role did music play in your household growing up?

There wasn’t much playing of instruments in our household but there was a lot of music appreciation, starting with my Dad who was a fan of big band swing. My older brother and sister brought all of the music of the 1960s into the house and there was lots of sharing of the latest albums.

What enables you to consistently tour year round?

We don’t overextend ourselves, so we don’t burn ourselves out. We always go home satisfied but wanting a bit more.

How did the late, great Townes Van Zandt influence your songwriting?

Townes toured with us in the early 1990s and we got to know him a little. Listening to him live each night can’t help but rub off on a songwriter.

Tell us about All That Reckoning, the new album that you are presently touring behind. Why are you excited about it?

It’s always an adventure when one releases a new album! You never know how it will be received or where it will lead — and that is something to be excited about.