Interview: Shotgun Jimmie

Shotgun Jimmie - Photo courtesy of Shotgun Jimmie

Shotgun Jimmie – Photo courtesy of Shotgun Jimmie

Although life on the road may strike many as consistently glamourous, Jim Kilpatrick knows differently.

The Canadian singer-songwriter, who performs under the stage name Shotgun Jimmie, has been performing for years, both as a solo act and in bands, and is aware of just how difficult it is to establish healthy habits while touring.

“A big part of the lifestyle, the touring lifestyle, just isn’t sustainable,” he said. “Just staying up late and eating bad food and drinking too much, or you know, whatever vices.”

As a result, last year he made the decision to kick those habits, something that was prompted by the fact that he wants to continue writing and recording and touring, and realized that health is strongly tied to being capable of doing music as a career. So he gave up eating junk food and adopted a pescatarian diet, in addition to cutting down his drinking and adding in a running regimen.

“I really had a lot of progress with that last year, and it felt amazing and it was really successful, and I think that’s kind of, that’s my most recent breakthrough,” he said. “Not only does it make you feel better physically, but mentally.”

Which is important, particularly for the show Kilpatrick puts on – one that involves wearing three different hats on-stage. Currently, he is at the midway point of a 20-day tour through Germany, with additional shows in Vienna and Zurich, supporting John K. Samson. This is following a similarly-structured North American tour of the U.S. coasts and Canada that took place last month.

“I’ve been doing a one-man-band thing where I play the drums with my feet and then I play electric guitar and sing,” he explained.

In addition to performing as a solo act, Kilpatrick plays in the Provincial Band, alongside Samson, Doug MacGregor and Doug Friesen. For many of the dates, there is a middle act in-between, which allows him to rest up. But for a few nights, Kilpatrick has to transition from one act to another in the span of 10 or 15 minutes.

“There’s so much adrenaline involved that it’s fine,” he said. “I mean, sometimes it does feel a bit intense to do back-to-back sets every night, and there’s not a lot of downtime in between, ’cause as soon as I’m finished doing the opening set, then I have to get set up for the John K Samson set…so sometimes it’s like just over two hours…of go go go…it’s good though. It’s good for your brain, you know. Makes you a little bit smarter every night.”

Kilpatrick’s first exposure to touring in Germany was some years ago while accompanying The Burning Hell. Shortly after, he returned in the summer to play a handful of solo shows, spending time hanging out with members of the local anti-folk scene.

“I like their style of songwriting, and their approach to playing, and how inclusive it was,” Kilpatrick said of his experience going to shows at Madame Claude and interacting with people. “I felt like I could thrive there.”

And unlike playing in Canada, which is somewhat old hat for Kilpatrick, coming to Europe is still something of a novelty for him.

“There [are] so many interesting people here, and the culture’s just completely different to what I’m used to, but very stimulating and exciting,” Kilpatrick said. “So it’s a great place for me to come and get inspired, to be inspired.”

Case in point: Kilpatrick’s 2011 album, “Transistor Sister,” was written almost entirely on tour, with specific songs – such as “King of Kreuzberg” – acting as a direct homage to the district in Berlin.

This album, which Kilpatrick has said in the past is his favourite, remains his favourite, even though there is already a new album underway.

“A lot of times, I find that when I make a new album, the old one just seems ridiculous to me in some kind of way. Or I’m ashamed of it, or just so much can change in two years. But with this one I still really enjoy that record and I’m proud of it and still wanna promote it,” he said. “It’s new to me to have a new album and not be as excited about it as I am with the old one.”

Meanwhile, the follow-up, which has been recorded and mixed but not yet mastered, will likely come out next year, as Kilpatrick tends to stagger his full-lengths every two years, and he wants to wait until the excitement surrounding “Transistor Sister” has ebbed a bit.

As for the process of making this as-of-yet-unnamed album, Kilpatrick shared that he went into it not quite knowing what the results might be – whether he would use the songs as demos, release them on seven-inches, or something else.

“I did the classic, like, cabin-in-the-woods, rent-a-bunch-of-equipment [deal], and I took three months in rural Manitoba – I mean, really quite rural – and just recorded every day and just took my time, and didn’t really have any expectations,” he said, referencing the freedom he had with writing and recording the music. “[And ultimately], it ended up just being a body of work that I want to keep together.”

Still, although it’s not yet out, fans and showgoers can expect to hear new songs in the live setting. In particular, Kilpatrick enjoys playing for German audiences, which he finds are incredibly attentive and constructive on the whole.

“There’s no greater treat than having someone really paying attention to what you’re doing and then actually being able to say something about it afterwards, which was something that I noticed the last time that I was over here,” he said.

Shotgun Jimmie plays tonight at Magnet Club in Berlin. The show begins at 21.00.

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