Ian Thornley of Big Wreck doesn’t read reviews of his music. If he did, he would find many critics praising his band’s upcoming album, Grace Street.
“The trouble is if you read the good ones, you will also read some bad ones,” admitted Thornley, with a chuckle.
The Toronto-based singer of Albatross, That Song and The Oaf also doesn’t peruse online commentary because “people are so mean.” On the rare occasion when he is “sucked down the rabbit hole” to scan comments posted below YouTube videos, Thornley said he invariably emerges 20 minutes later feeling a little unwashed and “traumatized.”
“I don’t know about the state of things…. it’s frightening,” said Thornley, who performs with Big Wreck on Friday, Feb. 3, at Red Deer’s Memorial Centre.
Thornley’s life was shaken up two years ago when his marriage ended in divorce. Some of his emotional upheaval is dealt with on Grace Street, which comes out the same day as his Red Deer show.
It seems incongruous, considering how “honest, revealing and naked” some of the lyrics are, that Grace Street has become Thornley’s favourite record. “But then, I like stuff that really digs deep, that makes you tear up and get goosebumps. I enjoy that ride,” he admitted.
Thornley feels he’s achieved some perspective through songwriting. “It makes you look at things in your own life — you go through some strange phases — and begin to analyse yourself in new ways…
“The 25-year-old me would have run and hid inside a bottle some place… but now I find that some things become more obvious when you put pen to paper.”
Listeners can tune in to his emotional journey by listening to Useless, Floodgates, Motionless, and even One Good Piece of Me (“the music on that one is more on the optimistic side, but the lyrics are darker,” he said.)
Among the tunes with absolutely no connection to his divorce is the seven-minute instrumental, Skybunk Marché, which Thornley said was a “hoot” to compose with and play band mates Dave McMillan, Chuck Keeping and Brian Doherty. It’s an ode to some of the 1970s epics “I adore.”
Thornley’s 13-year-old daughter performed breathy vocals with a friend on It Comes as No Surprise and her heartbeat can be heard in The Receiving End.
Thornley hates being away from his girl while on tour, but they keep in touch online. He recently sent her a YouTube version of One Good Piece of Me that someone had altered with Chipmunk vocals.
“She loved it! She’s obsessed with The Chipmunk Song — especially when they sing “hula hoop” It’s the cutest sound ever.”
Tickets to the show are available from the Black Knight Ticket Centre.