Towers and Trees, a Victoria-based indie-folk band, became known in 2012 for “Montreal,” a song about running away to the east “where the action is.” For a young Adrian Chalifour, their lead singer and songwriter, moving to the east meant choosing music for his life: “It just had to be,” he said. “There was no other way.”
But life had other plans. Throughout most of his 20s, Chalifour struggled with the decision to make music for commercial reasons versus making it for the pure love of it. He moved to Kelowna, B.C., and it was in this small city that he wrote his homage to Montreal.
“[‘Montreal’] was like a swan song to this dream that I had let die. And I needed to at least capture it and say that it existed.” To Chalifour, writing “Montreal” symbolized moving on and shutting off his creative side. He tried to live that way for several years, growing increasingly miserable and depressed.
Chalifour eventually had to seek counselling. It was in the midst of this that he had a breakthrough, “like a set of chains getting broken,” where he realized that “[music] isn’t something I do, it’s something I am.”
A few weeks after this realization, his neighbour Ben Lubberts approached him at a Christmas party with the idea of getting together and recording some songs. Chalifour eagerly agreed, and thus Towers and Trees was born.
Chalifour and Lubberts’ recording sessions culminated in the creation of the Broken Records EP, which was released in 2012. While they started out as a tentative two-piece, the EP became a collective community project involving some of Victoria’s best musicians, including Dave Zellinsky, Jesse Boland, Andrea Lubberts, Donovan Rush, Kiana Brasset, and Olivier Clements. These musicians now regularly join Towers and Trees’ live shows.
On Oct. 2 this year, they released their first full-length album, The West Coast. Besides paying tribute to the beautiful landscape of B.C., it speaks to “the most painful experience in [Chalifour’s] life”: divorcing his high school sweetheart after seven years of marriage. He describes the album as “a seven-course meal . . . it’s meant to fill people [in] a meaningful and lasting way.”
“West Coast,” the title track, “holds a special place in [Chalifour’s] heart.” He says that “there was something about that song that was about forgiveness . . . Suddenly I could see that this album could be both the loss and hurt side and also the hope and optimism side.” Even though he has since visited Montreal, and loves it, Chalifour says, “for me and my story, [the West Coast] is where the action has been.”
Towers and Trees plans to capitalize on the full energy of their eight members on their upcoming album release tour. However, beyond simply “melting people’s faces” and putting on a show, they want to connect with the audience and create a special experience. Their tour will cover B.C. and Alberta, and they hit Sugar Nightclub in Victoria on Jan.15, 2016.
For tickets to the Victoria show, visit ticketfly.com/purchase/event/984643. For more dates, go to towersandtreesmusic.com/shows/.