The Cowboy Junkies' early works in the 1980s influenced much of the '90s alt-country and folk-oriented indie rock. Their brand of acoustic roots music was delicate and ethereal. The Canadian band is made up of three siblings and bassist Alan Anton. Last April, the Cowboy Junkies released their 11th album, At the End of Paths Taken. I spoke with Anton by phone last week.
What were some of the ideas behind your latest album?
This is the first time we've done a record where we followed one idea all the way through. All of us are getting older. We have kids. This album is about that time in your life. But it's also about our commitment to music. The whole thing when we started this band was that we wanted to make music whether we made money or not. We've kept that commitment all the way through.
For many years you were on a major label. Now you're not. Is that a plus or a minus?
We always felt a lot of negative energy working with big labels. They try to pretend that they have influence over your content, even though they don't. But they try, so you have to work hard to keep them in line with what you want to be doing as a band. For us, major labels are a waste of time and energy.
So you see the decline of the record industry as a good thing?
Yes. Kids growing up these days have the freedom to hear whatever they want to hear over the Internet. That used to be controlled by a bunch of suits who stocked record stores with crap and made us pay $18 for it. All that sort of poisoned the well, and now people are anti-buying music. Selling CDs is not what music is about, and music was thriving long before CDs.
Tell us about the remake you're releasing next year of your 1988 breakthrough album, The Trinity Session. You went back to the same church in Toronto to rerecord it, right?
Yeah, we were approached by a company that wanted to do a DVD of us, and we came up with this idea for it. When we were walking to the church, we were scared to death that revisiting this record might not turn out to be a good idea. But we got help from Ryan Adams, Natalie Merchant and Vic Chesnutt, and we're excited about how it turned out.