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Liam Titcomb didn't fall far from his family tree


Considering Liam Titcomb's family background, it was somewhat inevitable that he would get into music.

The Toronto singer/songwriter's father is well-respected folk singer Brent Titcomb so he grew up surrounded by music. After a short stint as a child actor, he decided to follow in his father's footsteps and pursue a career in music.

He released a self-titled debut on Sony but was dropped after the label merged with BMG. He went on to work with Grammy-award winning producer Jay Joyce on his successful independent album (Can't Let Go) and toured the country with the likes of Great Big Sea, David Usher and Tom Cochrane.

All this, and he's just celebrated his twentieth birthday.

Q: Tell blogTO's readers a bit about yourself.
LT: Oh boy, I started playing music when I was seven. I started playing the Cajun fiddle with a very close family friend, Soozi Schlanger, who runs the band Swamperella, she the fiddle player and lead singer.
I kind of grew up in the music scene because of my dad. I've been surrounded by music my whole life and to finally start playing was really natural and I really got into it. It all kind of snowballed from there.

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When my voice changed, when I was 11 or 12, that's when I switched to guitar because I couldn't really sing what I had been singing and the fiddle probably wasn't as cool as it used to be! (Laughs) It's much cooler to me now but it took a few years to get into it. That's when I started playing guitar and covering other people's tunes. I was opening for my dad at a CD release party and that's when the Sony rep first found me, Mike Roth, A&R from Sony.

And this back before Sony/BMG merged and it was a whole different company and whole different world, really, in that business. Mike took me on and he somehow believed I could be a songwriter which was a really a stroke of luck for me because he could have just said; 'Here's the songs we want you to sing, go sing 'em.' But he thought I should be writing and pairing me up with some great writers like Tom Wilson from Blackie and the Rodeo Kings and Junkhouse and Colin Cripps, a lot of great people! Through them I developed my songwriting and eventually they signed me to a full record deal and I finished a record and put it out and got to do the whole major label experience, which is a great experience and really learned a lot and got to go across the country and have radio singles. And then Sony/BMG merged and I got to leave really gracefully and everyone was very happy and (I) got to make a record last fall on my own record company.

Q: What was making the transition from being on a major label to being independent like?
LT: At first there's a relief kind of thing because you realize "oh, I don't have wait on anybody to know what's going on any more." But then, of course you start doing the work and at some points it can get a little daunting to say the least because you are doing everything. The light at the end of tunnel is knowing that you have control over everything and that you can make sure it's the way that you feel comfortable about it and that's really what keeps me going and wanting to do it. I'm really happy with it. And, I get to make any kind of record I want and I think that (for) any artist that's a real dream. So, that was the best part about it.

Q: Did any of the artists you toured with over the last couple of years have an effect on your songwriting?
LT: I'm sure some how. It's kind of inevitable that something will seep in. It's more the closer influences I've had than the people I've been on the road with. I've done some gigs with Tom Cochrane and I was on tour with Great Big Sea and David Usher. But, more people like Tom Wilson and the rest of the guys from Blackie. Oh man, my friend Andy Stochansky who I co-wrote a song on the album with ('Love Can'). But working with him and knowing him, more the close friends thing was an influence and I'm lucky to know a lot of great songwriters, I'm lucky to have Canada be full of them so yeah, it's definitely rubbed off on me.

Q: What was working with Jay Joyce like?
LT: That was the best creative experience in the studio I've ever had in my life. The first time I met him was a couple of years ago when I went down to do a writing trip, we clicked right off the bat and had this brother feeling immediately. So, when I went back down, it was like I had just been there and just picked up right from where we left off and everything flowed. For some reason, everything just really flowed with Jay in the studio and any idea I would have, I would be starting to say it and he'd be already doing it or vice versa. Because we did it in a short amount of time relatively, the whole record. Between myself, Jay and another guy Giles (Reaves) we played all the instruments as well. The fact that it did work like that, you couldn't ask for something better. (It) just really clicked and flowed well. I can't give my praises enough about how great a producer Jay is and a stellar human being as well.

Q: You lived in an RV in a Wal-Mart parking lot while you were working on the album. What was that like? Any noteworthy experiences? Did it inspire any songs?
LT: (Chuckles) Well, being on the road for a majority of my life, it wasn't too hard to make the transition. It was actually pretty easy because we were at least in the same place. We were kind of stationary. So, park the RV and got to stay for a day or two and then go park it somewhere else just to make them happy. But, no, I don't think any songs came out of it. But you never know it might affect you. It was just interesting to see in the States how they have that whole sub-culture in the Wal-Mart RV thing. The manager of the store, he didn't want to tell us to leave because being there for a day or something longer then you're supposed to be able to stay for. And he just said "you know what? If I had a driveway that was big enough, I'd tell you to come and park in mine. If you just go someplace else and come back tomorrow, it'd be even better." It was a cool thing to do that and it worked perfect and hell, it's your own space, it's like bringing your home with you so it's a lot better, I find, than being in a hotel.

Q: The guest list on your current album is quite impressive. How did you hook up with Andy Stochansky and Damhnait Doyle?
LT: The thing about the Canadian music business is once you start to get in to the thick of it, it's really not that big. The other thing is the amount of camaraderie in it ... it's incredible really how much we care for each other (and) respect each other. I met Andy years ago, probably through a SOCAN publishing meet-and-greet deal or something or some artist will show up. The reason I got to know him is touring with him in Southern Ontario and went to Ottawa and Montreal and did a few dates with Andy. That's how we made our friendship connection and from there, decided we wanted to write together at some point because he had really taken that on as a focus to do writing. So, we got together a few times and wrote a few songs and the 'Love Can', the one we worked together (on), that was more than good enough for me and I (was) willing to put it on the new album so that's how that one came out. Oh god, I've known Damhnait for quite a few years now. Stuart Cameron that plays guitar with Shaye was my initial connection with Dahmnait because he played guitar with me as well year ago. I met Damhnait through Stuart and it was kinda like a brother-sister thing immediately! (Laughs) We get along really well but we tease each other and it's a cool, cool relationship we've got goin'. And we've written together as well and nothing ended up on this record but I'm sure it'll be on the next one. I think it's really great in Canada how you can make these friendships that just seem to last forever.

Q: What's making the transition from being an actor to being a musician like?
LT: I haven't really been doing as much acting as I used to. To me, they just go hand in hand because you're performing, right? There's some differences, of course but I guess the first time I did anything on film was when I was about five or six, I did a CIBC commercial so the start of it all, I was so young that it wasn't daunting, I didn't know what was going on fully and I was just there and doing it. From there, everything I've done since has been really comfortable and it's served me really well I think that I've had acting experience in the past and I'm looking forward to doing more in the future actually.

Q: Considering your family background, did you feel any pressure when you decided to get into music yourself?
LT: There no pressure involved, there was just support. That's probably the way it should be. I've been lucky in that sense that my dad's never really taught me anything specific. I've learned unbelievable amounts of things just through osmosis and I spend so much time backstage or watching him and ended up wrapping his cords, that kind of thing, it all just seeps in. The support I've received from my family has been phenomenal and it still is. To this day they still do things for me if I need it done and they're willing to do anything. It wasn't like; "Oh well, I better do good, I better do my dad good!" (Laughs) Never felt that way at all. He was just thrilled to see me doing what I wanted to do, and he still is. Which is a nice feeling.

Q: What do you have planned for your show at Hugh's Room on October 6th?
LT: Lately I've been doing a rock trio thing because this record is much more of a rock record than the last one and we've been doing a bit of a power trio thing with myself playing guitar, just bass and drums. That's been a lot of fun but I figured for the Hugh's Room thing I just wanted to pad it out a little bit and we got my friend Cindy Fairbank to play organ Rhodes. So it's gonna be the four of us. And depending on who shows up, you never know, somebody might sit in and sing a tune or something and that happens sometimes. We've got this girl Layah Jane, I don't know yet but I've heard much about her and I know she's a great person from everyone that I've heard about her. She's gonna be opening up the show with some tunes And I dunno, we're just looking to play some fun stuff. I just want people to have fun. It's Thanksgiving weekend and just hope they come out and have some fun on the Saturday before the get stuffed and eat their faces off.

Q: Finally, what does the future hold for you?
LT: I don't know! I think only the future can tell me that! (Laughs) For me, what I'm hoping the future holds for me at this point (is) I'd love to get into another continent. I'd love to go to Europe and start playing. For instance, I just had my first couple of shows in the States when I was on tour this summer and that was a great feeling to know that I was finally breaking into another market because I love Canada and I will probably always live here and come back here but it's a cool thing to know that you're getting into another area because you can only go back and forth on this big country so many times! So, I'm really hoping I can get to Europe or something and start playing out there and get the record out that I'm looking forward to.

Q: What kind reception did you receive in the US?
A: It was great! It was just a couple of shows but they went over really well. I was doing a couple of dates with my friend Sonia Kitchell, she's a great singer/songwriter. She's only 18 but she's got a thing goin' and she's playing two really great different venues and both of them went over really well and they received me great. I'm hoping to go back. It was in Massachusetts so I think it might be a good place for me to go back.

LIAM TITCOMB
With Layah Jane
Saturday, October 6th 9 pm
Hugh's Room
Cover is $12 in advance and $15 at the door.

Image courtesy of Liam Titcomb's website


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