Born and raised in Guelph, Ontario, Tim Kingsbury began performing music as a child at his family church. As a teenager, he moved on to the local experimental, punk and indie rock scene. After years of creating music with various groups, Tim moved to Ottawa, and later left the province for Montreal, Quebec. There he joined the band Arcade Fire in 2002, where he continues to inspire and define the musical landscape of one of the world's biggest indie rock bands. A multi-instrumentalist and frequent collaborator with musicians across different genres, Tim is set to launch his new project in early 2017 under the name Sam Patch.
Between the summer of 2014 and the winter of 2016, Tim was creating music in spaces foreign and familiar. The music that would become Sam Patch was written and recorded on days off during tour with Arcade Fire in locales all over the world: in the Laurentian countryside north of Montreal and in recording studios in different cities. The album became an alternate creative outlet, one that allowed for another side of his artistry to emerge.
In some ways, the record is the very definition of a solo record. Recording and producing the songs himself was a deliberate move. Focusing on the creative output with no preconceived notions of what the album should be, he limited himself mainly to guitar, a Vox organ, a Vermona drum machine, an Oberheim Xpander synthesizer, and his voice. Most of the songs started as a synthesizer sequence and a drum machine loop, with layered organ, guitar and/or vocals added. Up All Night, the first song Tim wrote for the album, was entirely composed and partially recorded one evening in a London hotel room.
As the record began to take shape, certain themes and influences became apparent in the songs. Many are touchstones from Tim's past, such as Abba, Devo, Fleetwood Mac, Zamfir, Leonard Cohen and Stereolab. Lyrically, he was inspired by everything from self-help books to Philip K. Dick to Greek and Christian mythology.
Taking on as many aspects of the project as he could, Tim played the majority of the instrumental parts, and wrote and sang all the songs. But he also worked with a wide assortment of collaborators. He had formed relationships with many musicians who appear on the record over the years with Arcade Fire; others are people who had inspired him and whom he was eager to work with in the studio. One weekend in Chicago, he had a recording session with John McEntire and Doug McCombs, who appear on Never Meant No Harm and Up All Night. The song Listening was co-written with Tim's wife and partner Natalie Shatula. Basia Bulat lent her voice on seven of the record's eight songs, and contributed vocal and piano arrangements on various tracks. Jeremy Gara, drummer in Arcade Fire and Tim's frequent musical collaborator, played drums on six of the songs.
The track St. Sebastian captures the essence of the Sam Patch debut album. It was written around a drum machine loop, a simple synthesizer sequence, a nylon-string guitar part, and a Vox organ line. An exploration of lostness and distraction vs. focus and inspiration, the concerns in this song are part of a thread that runs throughout the record. The theme is one that Tim found to be recurring-a focus that was both conscious and otherwise-as he developed the songs. What motivates us in our lives? What do we focus on and what do we neglect? What do we use to distract ourselves from who we really are? The record asks these questions and more.
While Tim was searching for a name for the project, frequent Sam Patch collaborator Matthew Brown forwarded him an article about Sam Patch and suggested he use the moniker. The original Sam Patch was a daredevil in and around the New York and New Jersey area in the early 1800s-a precursor to Evel Knievel (with a touch of MTV's Jackass). Tim was struck by Patch's strangeness, audacity and seeming disregard for his own well-being. The term "patch" is also commonly used to describe a group of settings on a synthesizer-another reason the name made a nice fit. Thus a new Sam Patch was born for the 21st century.