Pronounced “two-ks,” Americans may not be familiar with the concept of touques, which are instantly recognizable to most Canadians. A touque is the equivalent of the American beanie, the sort that you find on the heads of those who like to keep their brains and ears both warm and happy.
The Touques are a creative band, whose members write 90 percent of the material they play. Their sound is indie pop or indie rock or indie punk, depending on the song.
A myriad of influences contribute to their style: Jeff Buckley, Arcade Fire, The Beatles, Bob Dylan, David Bowie and Peter Gabriel, just to name a few. Such varied influences create an unpredictable thread of songs that keeps the audience on its toes. The band has been playing together for about a year.
Julian Chang, 24, and Christian Laursen, 25, are Canadian imports, engineers by day and front men for The Touques by night. The two friends met at school in Canada and moved to Reno for work and to start a band. Laursen began playing the violin when he was 9 years old and now also plays guitar, bass and keyboard and sings. Chang has been a musician since the 9th grade, playing guitar, bass, keyboard, harmonica and singing.
Tim Herrick, 37, has been a Reno resident for five years now, having moved here from Michigan. He’s been strumming bass and guitar for 22 years and also sings with the band.
Mike Livernash, 26, is an art major at UNR who responded to a flyer seeking a drummer. He also applies his artistic skills to the band’s Web site and cover designs.
“We get along great,” says Livernash. “We’ll be around for a while.”
The band’s collaboration with friends has also helped things come together, says Livernash. Jonathan Arman comes up with their videos, and Gabriel Traverso of the band Love’s Proxy helped them lay down some tracks for their demo. “Andrew Kilpatrick, a friend and brilliant philosopher who has his own band, Super Blend, which consists of Andrew and his computer, writes lyrics for some songs, like ‘Lunatic,'” adds Chang.
Two videos for the songs “Dear Maxine” and “Lunatic,” can be viewed on the band’s Web site. The Touques have also cued up four songs for folks to test drive.
“We like to make the audience laugh at songs,” Herrick says. Sometimes he likes to wear a gorilla mask while playing “Lunatic.”
The bass line for “Lunatic” has a way of getting imprinted upon the brain like The Addams Family theme song. “Florida Mutants Economists” is another catchy song with more pop influence. This song was inspired, not by economists, but by things most dear to the band members’ hearts: graduation, a road trip, the dreaded break-up, feeling like a miserable bastard—all topics that an audience can easily relate to but presented in an upbeat, perhaps even defiant, way.
The Touques are planning to head into the studio early in 2007 to self-record their first album.
“We would like to thank America for her hospitality toward her northern neighbor,” Laursen says. “We are defending the country with our music. We plan to tour the West Coast and then conquer the world.”