Canadian Joshua Cockerill may not be a native to Chicago, but the accumulated memories from his previous visits are enough for him to return and spread his music there.
“This will be my first show in Chicago, although I have visited the city before and fell in love instantly,” he reveals. “I have fond memories of the Lincoln Park zoo, eating tamales sold to me by a traveling vendor in hole-in-the-wall bars and a free open air Bonnie Prince Billy concert in Millennium Park.”
Cockerill will be playing at Bird’s Nest Bar tomorrow (Oct. 5). Ringleader of the band Animal Parts (which, according to Cockerill, signifies “the exercise in the themes of love and loss and explor[ing] the ups and downs that come with essentially being an animal”), which first began under his own name, Cockerill transitioned into a serious musician after moving to Toronto at 18.
“I was stepping into a new world that has, over the years, opened my mind,” he says, now 24. “I immediately met large groups of like-minded people who have had an enormous impact on the music I ended up making. I cut my teeth playing basement bars to rooms packed, at a time when it felt as though the alternative country movement in the city had some real magic and momentum. Those experiences were invaluable. Also, I am as influenced by writing as I am by music. Toronto has a rich history of tremendous writers. Many of those important voices I only discovered once having moved to the city; others I only began to fully understand once I had walked down the streets over which they had lamented. I've had the name ‘Animal Parts’ kicking around for some time. It always seemed to me a good explanation of what I do; as a songwriter, I live a bit of an emotional roller-coaster.”
The leg of this American tour is strictly Cockerill, but the effect will be like a full band.
“I find performing [solo] liberating and open to surprises,” he explains. “Also, I'm touring with an electric guitar which allows me to interpret the music in different ways. I will be performing a lot of new material that I have written since recording the album. With those songs I've pushed myself to do things I've never done before. So saying, you will hear all sorts of different songs as I try not to leave any stones unturned.”
Animal Parts’ self-titled album was released at the end of August and expresses content at a particular level of vulnerability.
“We are always at the mercy of our primal instincts, or, in other words, our inner animal,” Cockerill states. “Within those conflicts, it’s natural to feel yourself pulled in diverging directions by different parts of your being. Growing as a human isn’t (and shouldn’t) be a comfortable process. The recording process was quite raw and streamlined, and that comes out in the final product. Although the songs are based on the theme of love/loss, they are not confessional. I hope the audience can identify with the struggles and ultimately find comfort.”
Along with touring, Cockerill is representing support for songwriter Jason Molina, whose work includes, but is not limited to Songs: Ohia andMagnolia Electric Co.
“He’s been in and out of hospitals for the better part of three years,” Cockerill says. “I do my best to bring awareness and support to his cause. The song I wrote is called “The Grey Owl Call,” and I've dedicated it to his well-being at every show I've played on the tour [Read about Jason here].
The show tomorrow starts at 9 p.m. and is for ages 21 and up. Visit Bird’s Nest Bar’s Facebook page here for more information.