On one of the last warm autumn days in Vancouver, I found myself navigating through a maze of docks near Lonsdale Quay. The seeming small Mosquito Creek Marina turned out to be quite the labyrinth, housing gorgeous ships of all shapes and sizes. And before I knew it, I too was on a boat – on a boat with Greg Cockerill.
“It’s such a great time to [play] on a boat,” explains Cockerill of the aquatic locale. “I’m from Toronto so I never see water… these boat venues seem to be really fun, as you can see.”
Cockerill and his new band have spent October traveling across Canada throwing album release parties for their new record, Festuca. Although very much his own musician, there’s an irresistible huskiness to Cockerill’s voice, which naturally lends itself to Springsteen comparisons. Coincidently enough, the Boss himself may have inspired Cockerill’s career in more ways than one.
“[Bruce] Springsteen was definitely one of the guys that got me into songwriting,” Cockerill shares. “When I went to see a sneak preview of Devils and Dust, which is one of my favourite all time records, that week that I saw that, I wrote four other songs on [my] first record and those were the first songs I had really ever written.”
Cockerill’s love affair with music began at a young age. “I remember very clearly, when I was about eleven or twelve, driving to Lake Placid to go skiing. My older brother had a hockey tournament and he put on a John Lennon tape. That was the first time I was like, ‘What is this?!,’ Cockerill reminisces.
The grassroots, “Canadiana” sound that Cockerill has fine-tuned can be attributed to having grown up all over the country. Each of Cockerill’s tracks feels like you’re on a train, getting to watch different cities and towns come and go.
“Toronto has a feel, Montreal has a feel, Calgary has a feel. Sleeping in your van because you’ve been snowed out in Manitoba has a feel, you know, so that’s just how I live and I try to write about what I go through a little bit,” explains Cockerill.
On whether it is difficult adjusting to new environments constantly, the track “Big Town” proves that fresh starts can be an exhilarating thing. Cockerill says of moving to big cities, “It’s exciting. You’ve got lots of courage, but you’re kind of insecure about everything at the same time.”
Often times it’s insecurities that trigger the search for courage, and let’s not forget, inspire the best songs. Greg Cockerill is living proof of that.
Although his music is more somber than pop, Cockerill, like the rest of us, also enjoy a good top 40s tune here and there.
“My brother’s in the band right, and he’s a massive Taylor Swift fan. So we all have our somebody. I like my Beyoncé for sure.”