It has not been an easy year for Ian Thornley.
He doesn’t delve into details too deeply, but he’s gone through a “horrible” divorce in the past year, and it’s been something of an emotional rollercoaster.
“The amount of stuff I’ve been through,” Thornley said, “it runs the gamut of dark to light, and that shows up in the album.”
The album is Grace Street, the latest from Thornley’s band, Canadian alt-rock giants Big Wreck, perhaps still best known for their breakout album, 1997’s In Memory Of… That album spawned the now rock-radio-staple singles The Oaf, That Song and Blown Wide Open and launched a career that would see world tours, three more albums, a hiatus, side projects and, finally, a reunion.
And now, with the release of the new album and a cross-Canada tour kicking off Jan. 25 and 26 in Nanaimo and Victoria, respectively, 2017 is something of a new beginning. The worst of the personal troubles are behind Thornley, which has allowed him to focus on the music and put his emotions into his songs without having them take over.
“When I’m out of the crisis period, it’s easier for me to write,” said the guitarist, vocalist and principal songwriter.
Playing live, however, is a different matter, with more of a balancing act required. Thornley said he likes to tap into his emotions while performing, but has to make sure not to get too close, because nothing can ruin a show more than crying on stage.
“In the midst of shit it’s very cathartic to perform … you have to keep it present and keep it authentic,” he said. “The shows are always something I look forward to because I get to come up for air for two hours. It’s refreshing.”
With an album worth of new songs to crank out, Thornley said he’s looking forward to heading out on this tour and introducing the new music to the fans. The album is musically diverse, with a lot of different ideas at play, some new and some old finally finding a home. “I’m just looking forward to hearing what people think, because it’s such a broad album,” Thornley said. “It really does take you on a ride…I just hope people dig it and that people get it.”