The Weather Station and “Unexamined experiences”

Toronto’s The Weather Station are a band that don’t like to rush themselves… although I’m not sure that any of their fans mind… Forming in 2006, their third LP...

Toronto’s The Weather Station are a band that don’t like to rush themselves… although I’m not sure that any of their fans mind… Forming in 2006, their third LP just dropped this May.  That LP is Loyalty and The Weather Station is Tamara Lindeman (whom you may also know from her work as an actor), the band’s sole permanent member, and a revolving cast of players.  For Loyalty Lindeman enlisted the help of Afie Jurvan (Bahamas) and Robbie Lackritz (best known for his work with Feist).  The album is a delicate (and somewhat experimental) blend of classic folk songwriting with the same slightly dark sentiment of contemporaries like Jenny Hval and Sharon Van Etten.  Lindeman has had The Weather Station on the road for much of the year and they will be playing Johnny Brenda’s on Thursday, July 16th, and she recently took some time to tell me about her latest work and the experiences surrounding its release.

Izzy Cihak: You’ve been on tour for a decent portion of the year.  Have you had any particular favorite experiences so far, whether shows or audiences that went especially well or just cities that you especially enjoyed visiting?

Tamara Lindeman: I had a beautiful show in San Francisco.  It was my first show there – so it was a surprise to step out on stage and be met by a crowd that I could tell really knew the record and was into what was happening.  There were a lot of happy surprises actually – Tucson, Arizona was lovely, as was Portland and Bellingham, WA, and LA was an awesome show too.

Izzy: And you’re going to be here in Philadelphia in a few weeks.  What can be expected of the live experience?

Tamara: I’ve got a great band with me, it’ll be a pretty sweet set, I’d say…

Izzy: Your third LP, Loyalty, has been out for a while now.  Have you had any particular favorite reactions to it?

Tamara: I’ve had a lot of lovely responses.  It always means the most to me when I see that someone really gets what I was trying to say – when I feel like the meaning of the songs is understood.

Izzy: Do you currently have a particular favorite album track, whether one you’re most proud of, one that may signify where your future sounds might be headed, or one that’s just especially fun to play live?  “Tapes” is one of the best ballads I’ve heard in a really long time.

Tamara: Thank you! I think “Way It Is, Way It Could Be” is a nice new direction… points to some future sounds.  I always feel drawn to making more expansive music and I think that will be the way things might go from here. But every song on the record has had a moment of being my favourite.  It just depends on what is going on, and what I’m learning about the song at the time.

Izzy: Do you feel like a significantly different artist from the artist that released The Line about half a decade ago?

Tamara: Of course.  The Line was made in my bedroom, over the course of years, on my computer.  It was an experiment, at heart, and also an outpouring of a very heavy emotional experience that happened a long time ago. Since then, I’ve worked hard to study and reflect on songcraft.  What it means to write a song, to write lyrics, that hold water – hold up over many many performances, in different situations, that feel supple and useful in a very different way than the songs on The Line.  I also became a touring musician, a full-time musician… my life has changed significantly.

Izzy: What do you currently consider to be your most significant influences, whether musical or otherwise?  I know you’ve also worked a lot in film and television.  Do those influences seep into your music as well?

Tamara: I’m an observer.  Things come up in songs months or years late – percolate up from unexamined experiences.  So I guess it all just comes from life, watching people, watching myself.  I’m always drawn to the undescribed – the tiny moments that go un-noticed.  Musically, I’m influenced by so much and so many – Gene Clark, Townes, Lightfoot, but also, my friends, more than anything.  I’m surrounded by musical heavy-weights I feel lucky to know. Film and television isn’t something I think about (or even really watch) in my day-to-day life.  I work in it so rarely.  If it’s had any influence on me I think it’s just made me more thoughtful about narrative and the pitfalls of story when you’re in search of truthfulness.

Izzy: You’re going to be playing Pickathon later this summer, which just always sounds so awesome.  Are there any artists you’re especially excited to get to see or get to share a stage with?  I’m a huge fan of Heartless Bastards and Mandolin Orange and also really into Ex Hex and Jessica Pratt.

Tamara: I am really jazzed to see Alice Gerrard, and the full Hiss Golden Messenger band.  I’m excited to see Joan Shelley for the first time, and Nathan Bowles too.  There’s also many bands there I don’t know at all – so I’m excited to make some new discoveries. It’s going to be the best!

Izzy: And what are your plans for after touring wraps?  Can we expect more new music in the near future?

Tamara: I’m a slow writer, and it takes me a long time to edit and pare down and create a full album.  I hope the turnaround will be relatively fast this time, but of course, no promises.  That said, there are always little things I’m working on – duets and collaborations and the like.  I’ve got the itch already to make something new… even if just a little thing.

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During the day Izzy Cihak teaches transgression, subversion, and revolution at Temple University. At night he haunts Philthy's best venues to cover worthwhile acts for Philthy Mag. Morrissey is everything to him and, in their own heads, all of his friends see themselves as Zooey Deschanel.