Frontman Taylor Cochrane is no stranger to making music: since he’s been a kid, he’s been involved in a variety of different projects, ranging from funk-rock, party-starting maniacs, Kronic Groove Band, to his solo project, the Taylor Cochrane Band. One band, however, has remained his pet project since he first started writing music: 36? has grown up alongside the energetic and inventive frontman, feeding his development as an artist and often working as a fertile breeding ground for exploring new ideas. With a new album scheduled to be released, where do we go from here?, Cochrane opens up about what making music means to him.
BeatRoute: 36? has been active since 2006 and has largely grown with you yourself as a person. Stepping back from it all, how has the band’s progression mirrored your own?
Taylor Cochrane: When 36? started out, I was a 17-year-old living in my parents’ basement tweaked out beyond belief on my ADD medication. I heard Is a Real Boy, by Say Anything, and it was like a switch went off in my head. The album had the gooey pop sensibility that I was so fond of, but they incorporated new elements in to their music that pretty much changed my whole approach to songwriting. The album was almost theatrical, featuring a ton of different instruments and put a heavy focus on lyrical content. Shortly after hearing it, I wrote a song called, “So What if I Feel Like Bondage!,” a sadomasochistic spazz-punk song about sexually dominant alt-girls. It became the first song I wrote under the alias of 36? and it was the biggest step forward I have made as an artist to date.
Within the next few months, I wrote and produced the first 36? record, entitled love.hate.bondage. By that time, I had developed a writing style where I would write every part of a song as I recorded it in the studio. That, combined with my Concerta-induced, overstimulated, obsessive state of mind turned me in to a songwriting machine and, in a year’s time, 36? had put out two more albums.
It was during the recording of the third 36? record, Fistu Inhaf!, that the side-effects of the ADD medication really caught up to me. My prescription had gone from 18 mg/daily a year prior to 72 mg/daily. Needless to say, shit had gotten pretty weird: I never slept, I had constant tremors in my hands and feet, I was barely over 100 pounds, I was wildly obsessive compulsive, I was paranoid, I would bounce between intense, euphoric states and self-destructive depression for no logical reason, and I was totally afraid of the dark because I would have vivid, horrifying visual and auditory hallucinations when the lights were off.
I stopped taking Concerta shortly after I had a mental breakdown after the release of Fistu Inhaf!. Over the next year, life became a lot simpler, but my creative spark had nearly disintegrated. Everything I put together felt helplessly contrived. I joined a local funk band, the Kronic Groove Band, and 36? took a backseat for the first time since its conception. It was with the KGB that I became immersed in the Calgary music scene. In all the time I had spent working on 36?, I had only played a couple of shows, so it was my first real introduction to the live experience. It was through playing shows with that band that I met Ryan Kusz and Eric Svilpis.
It’s been about eight years since I recorded the first 36? song and I am so grateful for that crazy fucked up period I went through. Thinking about that time in my life is bittersweet to say the least, but I don’t know where or who I would be without it and without 36?.
BR: Your upcoming album, where do we go from here?, will be your fifth release. What kind of goals did you set out to achieve?
TC: where do we go from here? is the first 36? record with a full lineup. On [almost] every single 36? recording before this one, I had recorded all of the instruments myself and had total control over every aspect of the music. In this album, everyone add their own personality in to their parts and the music is better because of it. The biggest achievement for me, personally, on this album is the track, “This is Where I Draw the Line.” I originally wrote the song when I was 18, my parents had split up the night before and I had dealt with it by meeting with my friend and getting totally wrecked on drugs. I wrote the song in the morning during the worst crash I have ever experienced. I have recorded that song time and time again and have never felt that I did the song justice, but, with this album, I feel like I finally have a recording of this song that does it right.
36? will release where do we go from here? on February 15 at the Palomino.
By Sebastian Buzzalino