From Winnipeg to Austin and back again

Local roots duo Twilight Hotel returns home with a new album

Dave Quanbury and Brandy Zdan of Twilight Hotel return home from Texas Feb. 4 to release their new album When The Wolves Go Blind at the West End Cultural Centre. Killbeat Music

Dedication to music and the pursuit of artistic vision are what make Twilight Hotel such a compelling band.

Former Winnipeggers Dave Quanbury and Brandy Zdan are the foundation of the Austin-based group.

“Austin is shiny and different,” Zdan said by phone last week. “As musicians, we’re fulfilling different parts of ourselves; Dave plays in a marching band, I sing as a back-up vocalist.”

To describe the band as “process driven” would be fitting.

“It’s the fact that you can’t do anything else,” Zdan said. “(Music) is not a choice, it’s something you will always do. You’re always trying to feel that audience connection and you want to get better at it, develop it, see what you are becoming.”

It’s why making a record is as much as an art form as anything else, according to Zdan.

The band recently released their third studio album, When The Wolves Go Blind.

“It was recorded live from the floor in three days, with an extra day for overdubs,” Zdan said. “It was nice to be in a room full of musicians and (record) the energy of a moment.”

The pair picked up new instruments for this album.

“I’ll be playing lap-steel guitar on this one,” Zdan says. “And Dave will be playing cornet.

Home is in the middle of (song) writing when you can (finally) put words to that feeling. To be able to play your own songs, to enjoy every night is wonderful.

Brandy Zdan, Twilight Hotel

“It’s how I learned to play the accordion. We just thought ‘This song needs something,’ and you find an instrument you enjoy and go from there.”

The tour for the album brings the band back to their old city, but only for just one night.

“I’m looking forward to playing the new West End Cultural Centre,” said Zdan. “It might be odd, with no lingering. Or it could feel fantastic.”

The pair is touring with drummer Pat Philips from Toronto. For the songs, these musicians are all that is required.

“Anyone else is icing on the cake,” Zdan said about on stage collaborators. “When we come to towns, we may ask other (musicians) to play. There’s no rehearsal, it’s just off the cuff. It’s exciting adding certain local dynamics.”

Joining Twilight Hotel in Winnipeg are Gilles Fournier on bass, and Jaxon Haldane and Jonathan Alexiuk on horns.

“Playing on stage is something a little different (than recording),” Zdan said about the energy translating from recording room to the touring stage. “These songs have been in our pockets for a while. On stage, they’re still finding their shape.”

For a band that continues to shape itself, I asked Zdan to describe “home.”

“Home is in the middle of (song) writing when you can (finally) put words to that feeling. To be able to play your own songs, to enjoy every night is wonderful.”

Published in Volume 65, Number 18 of The Uniter (February 3, 2011)

Related Reads