I grew up in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and attended a high school that was a little over an hour's walk from the house my mother and I lived in. Although I had the option of taking the bus, I decided at the outset of my less-than- illustrious high school career that I was going to walk to and from the place come hell or high water. I encountered neither of these things, but, being in the North, I did needlessly expose my body to a whole lot of snow and sub-zero temperatures. This resulted in some ludicrous and superfluous physical pain being introduced into my life as a result of falls on the ice, frostbite, etc. There was a feeling that I had something to prove, although I can't remember what it was or if I ever knew. I was, as I'm sure you can understand, caught up in the the heady mix of angst, stubbornness, and determination that comes with adolescence.
But it was also during this period that I developed a genuine affection for the act of walking itself, apart from simply being a mode of transportation. I began to walk everywhere, no matter how long it took. If I wanted to buy a Violent Femmes album from the music store downtown, I would walk for two hours rather than take the bus for twenty minutes. I would even sneak out of my bedroom window at night to wander around the deserted streets, just thinking and listening to music, looking up at the sky, all pretty innocent stuff. My mother caught me a few times and explained that she didn't like it because she thought I was “hanging around”, which was a major transgression in her books. Rightfully so, I suppose. Kids get up to all kinds of things without proper supervision.
Anyhow, another interest which began to percolate around this time was a passion for literature, particularly poetry. I was into the badasses, the rocker poets like Rimbaud and Baudelaire and Dylan Thomas. Now I'm into some pretty square guys and gals too, but back then it was strictly badasses. I also started writing lyrics and poetry and stories in a little coiled notebook, and I was coming up with most of the ideas while I walked to school or wandered around at night. Granted, those ideas ranged from being downright atrocious to piteously juvenile, but I was pretty sure I was on to something. Writing and walking became inextricably linked in my mind.
The days passed and the years retreated, and the decade fled like a teenage trespasser dashing through the yarn of a Friday night picaresque. And while the clock ticked, I matured into the shady twenty-six year old deadbeat that I am today. But I still love to walk! I wrote almost all of the lyrics to our new record The World is Too Much With Us while strolling around the streets which frame my East Vancouver home. Surrounded by warehouses, garish green trees, urine soaked alleys, and strange characters, there are many potential building blocks for interesting poetry. I couldn't sing in the tiny apartment I lived in at the time we started writing the record, so I would hit the street and sing while I imagined the guitars and drums. There is still nothing I find more inspiring than wandering around at night in no particular direction, in communion with the cars, the stars, the neon lights, the words of poets fluttering around in the atmosphere, and my shadowy brethren ambling through the streets towards breathless eternity.