Islands’ Geordie Gordon, left, Nick Thorburn and Evan Gordon.

Music- Charming contradiction

Regardless of whether the Campbell River native sees Ski Mask propel his career to new heights, he asserts gratitude for what he has.

If someone is self-aware enough to proclaim their lack of self-awareness, does the sentiment ring true?

It’s not the question to follow the one hand clapping paradox, rather one of the contradictions to be found within Nick Thorburn, Islands frontman who is simultaneously devoted to making music immune to commercial or critical whims, and hungry for mass acclaim.

“In my ideal world, I would be treated like a king,” Thorburn says, on a break checking sound for a gig in Leipzig, Germany. “I would be carried in on a rug by four giant men who feed me grapes. That sounds homoerotic, but basically, I think I’m making good records and I think they have the innate ability, not in an intentional strategic way, to appeal to a broad audience. I’m interested in that. I’m interested in that level of communication.”

Regardless of whether or not the Campbell River native sees Ski Mask, the fifth Islands record, propel his career to new heights, he asserts gratitude for what he has. After 15 years on stage, the co-founder of the now-dissolved debut band The Unicorns, has built a solid contingent of devoted fans and collaborators (from Jim Guthrie to Michael Cera), his own record label (Manqué) and a new album that seems to synthesize all the divergent stops on his sonic journey to date. But Thorburn’s bright harmonies engulf a dark foundation – unedited sentiments deluged by beautiful indie rock, joyful melodies with a lyrical edge, not quite buffed out by its artful pop charm.

When L.A.-based Thorburn returns to Victoria April 1, he’ll be back in the city where it all began. Legends (now Club 9ONE9) set the stage for Thorburn’s first show with Alden Penner as The Unicorns. The two booked The Microphones to headline and finagled themselves the opening slot.

“We drove down from Campbell River in Alden’s mom’s car and we really didn’t have any idea what we were doing. We were both flailing. I was especially,” says Thorburn, who began learning the guitar by ear in high school after lying to Penner about his musical abilities, in hopes of initiating friendship. “It was very crude, but it was exciting. We were beside ourselves, just thrilled to be there.”

The rush of performing new work still exists for Thorburn, though not with the same youthful naivité, and alongside his greatest fears in life: becoming stuck in his career and repeating himself creatively.

“Being 45 years old and playing Lucky Bar in Victoria, that doesn’t appeal to me. I need something more. I’m not really willing to compromise my artistic integrity – unfortunately I had to use that expression – but I’m not willing to compromise that, so I’m playing ball, but I’m following my own rules,” he says. “The idea that I would make the same song today that I made 10 years ago, that disgusts me.”

At 32, the creative chameleon (film school grad, comic mind, skilled illustrator – see howiedoo.tumblr.com) is just really ready for the next chapter, wherever it takes him.

And if it happens to include selling a million records or reaching new audiences through mainstream charts, he welcomes it, but doesn’t suspect Top 40 super-hit status will befall a guy like him.

“I dress too well for that. I have too much good taste for that garbage.”

See Islands play Lucky Bar at 8pm April 1.

 

Just Posted

REVIEW: Journey enjoyable, destination elusive with Griffin and Sabine

Monday reviewer Sheila Martindale offers up her take on latest Belfry Theatre production

Victoria Symphony, other Royal Theatre users hammered with huge rent increases

Symphony already planning to move half its concerts to UVic’s Farquhar Auditorium

Glittering, Olympic medal-winning lineup coming for Stars on Ice

Tickets go on sale this Friday for Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre show May 14

Artwork, storytelling fuels romance at the Belfry

Adaptation of Griffin and Sabine books hits the stage in Fernwood on Dec. 4

Magic of Christmas lightup night tonight at the Gardens

Butchart’s unveiling their annual Twelve Days of Christmas displays and festive activities

Kendrick Lamar leads Grammy noms, where women make a comeback

A list of nominees in the top categories at the 2019 Grammys, including Kendrick Lamar, who is the leader with eight nominations, were announced Friday.

Dick Cheney biopic ‘Vice’ tops Golden Globes nominations

“Vice” topped all contenders Thursday, in nominations announced at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, including best picture, comedy and best actor nominations for Christian Bale.

Actor-comedian Kevin Hart will host 2019 Oscars

Hart will host the 2019 Academy Awards, fulfilling a lifelong dream for the actor-comedian.

Margaret Atwood to write sequel to ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’

Publisher McClelland and Stewart says it will publish ‘The Testaments’ on Sept. 10, 2019

Rat Pack revisited with Christmastime show at McPherson

The music and mirth of Frank, Sammy and Dean in the spotlight Dec. 20

Behind Bars: Steppin’ out at Veneto

Brant Porter orchestrates the cocktail menu at popular Victoria beverage stop

CHRISTMASTIME FILM: Classics revisited at Cincenta, The Vic

Monday columnist Kathy Kay touches on some holiday film options at the theatre

Most Read