Music Express (Canada)
US Distribution by Sam Goody
Volume 13 / #136
May 1989

By Kerry Doole
Photo by Chris Buck


Addictive Angst

If ever a band appeared destined to live out its days in the confines of the independent underground, that band would be Cowboy Junkies. There's the provocative name, the bluesy, melancholy sound that is their signature, plus the fact that they hail from Canada, a country known for producing corporate rock, not atmospherically poetic angst.

Yet here they are, one of the left-field success stories of the day, converting critical raves (voted Top 1988 Album by the L.A. Times' critics) into solid sales with their major-label debut, The Trinity Session.

A cost-effective success story, too. In an age of six-figure budgets, this album cost just $250 to lay down, courtesy of one day's digital recording in a Toronto church!

"No one expected this reaction. We hadn't even considered that a major label would be interested in signing us," concedes guitarist/songwriter Michael Timmins, just days after a triumphant appearance on Saturday Night Live, where the band "played to the equivalent of the entire population of Canada".

The Toronto-based Junkies are a family affair; drummer Peter and singer/writer Margo Timmins, plus bassist Alan Anton, round out the nucleus, although guest muso on such instruments as fiddle, accordion and pedal steel occupy a key role in embellishing Margo's haunting vocals.

Survivors of bands in Toronto, New York and London, the Junkies have enough collective experience to cope with their phenomenal rise. "We're handling it quite well," Michael claims, while excitedly reporting, "We've just got a tour bus - my rock'n'roll fantasy! The media in the U.S. go overboard in everything they do. Everyone gets on the bandwagon, then you get the backlash. You just ride it, read the reviews and laugh".

American acceptance shattered inital Canadian apathy, and now the Cowboy Junkies are heading out to score in Europe. "We want to be an international band, but we're still proud to be Canadians. We actually think we're helping Canada. The more exposure we get, the more other new Canadian artists get."

Return to Main Articles Page