Victoria’s Towers and Trees started as Adrian Chalifour’s solo project and quickly ballooned to a large band with Chalifour, Ben Lubberts, Dave Zellinsky and Donovan Rush at its core.
“We had saxophone player, a fiddle player and for certain songs a horn player, so yeah there was like eight or nine over the course of the night, that’s how it started,” says Chalifour, describing the first show at Canoe Brewpub in September 2012.
The show was a CD release party for the band’s first album Broken Record which held the key to Chalifour’s life as a musician – the breakout hit Montreal.
Now 31, Chalifour married at 22 and moved to Kamloops with his wife.
“That’s kind of where the song Montreal came from because it was always my dream to leave Victoria. I was born and raised here, I wanted to finish university and leave, go out east, move to either Ottawa or Montreal, somewhere that I could speak French and play some music,” he says. “I didn’t do that. I chose this other route, I ended up in Kamloops – which is sort of the antithesis of Montreal – and after being there about a year-and-a-half … I just couldn’t reconcile that lost part of my identity.”
In a frustrated state he wrote Montreal and packed it away as a pipe dream.
“It took me three years before I had the courage to share it,” he says.
Reticent to talk about the breakup of his marriage, Chalifour shoulders the blame. “I was being what I thought was a good partner. I was doing love the wrong way. I was being a martyr and not because of anything anybody asked of me but just a role I put on myself because I thought, that’s how you do things.”
Instead of heading out east, he returned home to Victoria where he began playing open mics and teamed up with Lubberts to make Broken Record.
“Things really took off when the Zone started playing our song Montreal in February 2013 and then we got into the Peak Performance Project, this big provincial contest, in June of 2013 and that took us right through to November and that’s when we met producer Alex Aligizakis who would eventually produce our new album,” he says.
After a whirlwind two years, Chalifour took his foot off the gas. “I was pretty exhausted,” he says. “But I also had these songs – I had this album – that I needed to write, I needed to finish and I knew it would be called West Coast.”
The album reflects a turbulent time in his life and marriage and reconnecting with his identity as an artist.
“When I think of the west coast, and particularly this west coast, it has a lot of faces. It can be that which is quite calm. There’s a gorgeous sunny day it’s quite serene, but it can also be this wild, unpredictable rugged, ragged shoreline and I knew that I wanted to capture that duality in one place, in one story.
“At the same time that I was mourning this loss and going through those steps of anger and guilt and regret and sadness and hurt, I was also going through these experiences of rediscovery and adventure and hope. I think at the centre of all those things, the constant again was my own identity as an individual, as an artist, as a man, all those things about my identity were being teased and pulled and put through the refiners fire and I think I was learning a lot about myself. The album is very much not a break up album, the first song is this uplifting, hopeful song – I didn’t want it to be a break up album – I wanted it to be a journey.”
Towers and Trees released West Coast Oct. 2 and began touring BC and Alberta in support of the project. The tour comes to Sugar in Victoria Jan. 15.