When Jon Cohen’s tour bus pulls into town this Friday, it will be a sight to behold. The bus is massive, capable of holding dozens of people with plenty of room for instruments in the storage bins underneath; the vehicle’s polished chrome and comfortable seats would make even the most established entertainers jealous. The bus, however, does not belong to Cohen — he will be pulling in on a Greyhound, his transportation of choice for the entirety of the tour thus far.
“The Greyhound has been very good to me,” says Cohen, who hails from Montreal. “I mean, can you imagine how much inspiration you can get from sittin’ on a bus for hours a day, meeting new people and sharing stories? It’s been great.”
Cohen’s Greyhound inspiration has had a definite impact on his live performances. Largely drawing on material from his most recent psych-pop offering, Behold, the former member of the Dears has no problem exploring different approaches to the songs. “We often think of the recorded versions of songs to be ‘the definitive’ version, or something like that … but I’m finding that it is a total work in progress,” he says. “These songs have gone through a lot of different shapes and sizes …they morph into other things, and a lot of the time I am surprised by where they go. It’s really exciting.”
As for the CD itself, Cohen has made a practice of giving it away rather than selling it — a practice he’ll be continuing at his solo gig in Victoria. “People don’t really buy CDs anymore,” he says. “The way to make money as a musician, the way it always has been, is to tour, and I’m a person who loves to travel… I’m finding that music really complements my passion. It’s really great: I feel like I’m bringing something of value to the towns I stop into and they’ve all given me so much in return.”
While Cohen has been enjoying every moment on the bus and onstage, he is already looking forward to a brief reprieve. “I’ve been spending a lot of my energy on this tour promoting myself, y’ know, contacting press and confirming gigs — I’ve learned a lot, but I’m really looking forward to getting back into the music side of things.” He’ll also be planning another leg of his tour, which will eventually take him back to Montreal — with hopes that the bus ride home will be as fruitful as his journey to the coast.
Catch the Jon Cohen Experimental at 9pm at the Fort Cafe, 742 Fort. Tickets are $8 and the first 20 folks through the door get a CD.