Carmen Townsend welcomes change

Carmen Townsend played at the Cellar Pub Jan. 11 kicking off her busy upcoming year (Jacqueline Gallant/AQ)
Carmen Townsend played at the Cellar Pub Jan. 11 kicking off her busy upcoming year (Jacqueline Gallant/AQ)

Opening up for Our Lady Peace at the age of 17, to touring across Canada with Heart, Townsend has been a Canadian force to be reckoned with.

“I picked up a guitar when I was 14 or 15 years old, playing in garage bands and things like that and opening for OLP was a really big deal for me.”

Townsend has recently shaken up her music career with a new band, new album, and new producer and she says she couldn’t be more excited for everything that’s about to happen.

Townsend will be travelling to New York this year to record with artist and writer Jesse Harris.

“We have never actually met, Jesse contacted my producer and he wanted me to sing a song for him, so he wrote Start all Over and said do whatever you want to it, so I made it my own, added a riff to it and he loved it.”

The two will meet up to write and record Townsend’s second debut album since Waitin’ and Seein’ back in 2011.

“Knowing Jesse has opened up a really sweet relationship and I’ve learned a lot from working with him.”

Contributing to Townsend’s new album will be Alan Hoskins from Newfoundland and Jordan Oakie from Prince Edward Island, replacing original band members, bassist Shane O’Handley and drummer Thomas Allen.

“The two are actually from Myles Deck and the Fuzz, so we have played with them before, and when the opportunity arose and they were ready to join me.”

Townsend also mentioned a few more change she is looking forward to.

“I’m working on a big band record actually, it’s completely different form what I’m used to but I love it and I’m excited for it.”

Townsend says there has to be an equal balance between her work life and her music life, especially in the coming year.

“We are setting up a tour for Germany and Sweden for the end of the summer and we are really excited for that, and I work full time in an elementary school, so it’s all about keeping a balance with writing and experiencing new things all at once… just have to keep on truckin’ I guess.”

In 2011, Townsend opened for Heart’s cross – Canada tour, something she says was a dream come true.

“I knew I was pitched for that spot, but I sort of put it in the back of my mind… Then there I was, 40 dollars in my bank when I got back from my Australia tour and then I got the call.”

Townsend says she’s been a fan for as long as she can remember.

“I can see five year old me lip syncing heart songs [laughs].”

Heart isn’t her only life long musical love, Townsend also holds a special place for one legendary Canadian.

“As far as big name Canadian artists go, I will always hold Neil Young close to my heart.”

Townsend was featured on the Neil Young tribute album: Cinnamon Girl: Women Artists Cover Neil Young for Charity, back in 2008.

“I love local talent as well, living in Halifax there’s a lot of it, bands like The Town Heroes from Cape Breton and Willy Straton from Bedford.”

Townsend also shared some of her fond memories of Fredericton,

“I played the Fredericton Harvest Jazz & Blues Festival with Ross Neilson and it was unreal… I also got into the Avett Brothers tent and my jaw dropped it was one of my favorite shows that I had ever seen, it was like I was at a Beatles concert.”

Townsend draws her inspiration from her parents, growing up with traditional Cape Breton Celtic sounds, with a bit of rock.

“I did Celtic Colors this year in Nova Scotia; my mother used to sing traditional Celtic songs to me and it was big a part of my growing up.”

Townsend says she gets her rock side from her father,

“my dad was classic rock and my mom was Celtic for sure, they were both a big part of me being introduced to music.”

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