Racing towards space with the Tourist Company

The band can relate to astronauts going off into the unknown.

The Tourist Company, from the Lower Mainland, released their second EP entitled Mercury on April 29, and hosted a release party at the Biltmore Cabaret on May 26. The new record follows the same space-theme as their 2014 release, Space Race. As lead singer Taylor Swindells put it, “I’ve been stuck in that metaphor for life in general for the last couple of years.”

Swindells identifies a lot with astronauts who are venturing off into the unknown, saying that it feels a lot like life as a musician: “You spend a lot of time away from home and a lot of time away from community, away from everything that supports you and makes you sane. . . You’re adventuring out into the unknown all the time. You’re often at risk on the road, and there’s lots of risk in performing and being vulnerable before an audience.”

The dense crowd at their release party loved the Tourist Company’s rock mixed with some pop — moving, grooving, and singing along like the audience wrote the songs themselves. The same themes of exploration and risk can be expected on their upcoming full-length record. After that, Swindells said that he’s “starting to think about what the next focus is and what it’ll be like.”

All the way from Winnipeg, Adam Hanney and Co. opened first for the Tourist Company. Despite Hanney coming off of an illness, their groovy guitar and bass made for fun rock. Vocals full of swagger, uplifting guitar solos, and a bassist/keyboardist who was ecstatic to be there made for a great start to the night.

A little closer to home, Victoria-based band Isobel Trigger dominated the stage next with harder, more seductive rock. With lots of bass, kick-drum, and stellar vocals, this foursome performed their hearts out and the crowd knew it. Everyone was pumped and ready for the main event after they left the stage.

There’s a majestic quality to the Tourist Company’s music, something that shines through because of the great songwriting. It feels like you’re actually witnessing space history, complete with that childlike wonder at the vastness of space, and the miracle of the stars.

Fellow band members Jillian Levey, Josué Quezada, and Brenon Parry contribute strong vocals and keys, precise bass, and rollicking drums respectively. The group knows how to manage the stage, bringing out light-up drums during “Mercury 1” and engaging the audience to clap and sing along. They even told the story of Douglas the crow, an unfortunate casualty of the band’s touring. “Weightless and Stranded” off their upcoming LP was dedicated to their “fallen comrade.”

“Irrepressible Future” off of their Space Race EP was a fan favourite, and so was “Shouldn’t Believe,” the track they closed on before their encore. “Mercury 1” is one of Swindells’ favourite tracks to perform, but the group favourite is probably “Now What,” because it’s so much fun to play.

Swindells said that the process of making Mercury — though largely the same as making Space Race — “was definitely taxing, but in a good way. Definitely a challenge to write.” It took almost a year to put together, “but we were really lucky to work with the team we had in the studio. . . They really captured the vision of where we wanted to go and took it to places we would never have been able to take it with our own knowledge and our own creativity.”

Catch Mercury and the Tourist Company’s amazing harmonies at their website.