Folk band Fish & Bird find their way homeAt a time when most people his age are either graduating college or working at their third or fourth McJob, Taylor Ashton is already a seasoned veteran of the music industry. As a co-founding member of Fish & Bird, a nomadic indie-folk band loosely based in Vancouver, the banjo player has logged more time on the road than most long-haul truckers, spending much of the last five years navigating the open roads playing a host of festivals, concert halls, house gigs and even recording a special for CBC.
But now, with Fish & Bird’s third album, Every Whisper is a Shout Across the Void, which will be released at the Cultch this Friday, June 17, the band is negotiating a significant growth spurt: going from a duo (Ashton and and fiddler Adam Iredale-Gray) to a quintet, adding guitarist Ryan Boeur, drummer Ben Kelly and bassist Zoe Guigueno to the mix permanently.
“It was totally different, going from me and Adam to being in a five-piece band,” Ashton says, over the phone during some rare downtime in Victoria, where he temporarily calls home. “The challenge was really in writing and arranging songs together, which was only the case on half the album. This album kind of shows you us in the process of figuring out what it means to be a five-piece band, instead of a duo with a band. It was a challenge letting go in a way.”
Which was easier said than done. At the ripe old age of 22, Ashton has been toiling at Fish & Bird since he was a teenager. In fact, Ashton was just 17 years old when the band released its eponymous debut. Since then, the band’s received plenty of praise for its work ethic and live performances. Critics have offered favourable reviews of the band’s albums, specifically highlighting Ashton’s songwriting prowess, which he calls his first love, above and beyond the guitar and banjo.
In a funny twist of fate, this upcoming show at the Cultch will be a full-circle moment for Ashton: as a teen, he won a playwrighting competition at the beloved East side venue, which gave him the confidence to eventually move into songwriting.
“I’m really excited to play at the Cultch,” Ashton says. “There was a few years stretch where I was performing at Youth Week at the Cultch. I did a lot of my early growth as a performer there. Winning that contest when I was young was like, ‘Oh! I can do creative stuff and people are actually going to care about it.’ It meant a lot to me growing up, so it means a lot to me to be playing there on Friday and releasing the CD there.”
Fish & Bird perform June 17 at the Cultch (1895 Venables), 8pm. $16 from 604-251-1363 or Tickets.TheCultch.com.