As a solo performer, a new identity for Arcade Fire’s Tim Kingsbury
Tim Kingsbury is enjoying a weekend in the countryside just north of Montreal. It’s a wise move given that the Arcade Fire bassist will go from touring off his first solo record, “Yeah You, And I” — he comes to Great Scott Thursday — to a summer-into-fall tour with his main band.
“I’ve wanted to do a solo album for a long time,” says Kingsbury, 40. “I’ve been writing songs since I was 14 years old, but I got busy with other things” — the main other thing being the Grammy-winning Arcade Fire, the Montreal-based indie rock band whose last album, 2013’s “Reflektor,” debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200.
Though “Yeah You, and I,” released last month, is a solo record, written and recorded by Kingsbury, he’s taken the pseudonym Sam Patch, borrowed from a 19th-century daredevil and folk hero. “I toyed around with doing it under my own name, but as I was writing the songs and playing around with ideas, I felt like I was channeling different characters. It didn’t feel like a 100 percent autobiographical record.”
Perhaps, but none of those song characters is the stuntman, and the album is full of personal reflections.
“It ended up being a relationship album in a way — realizing who you are in the context of a relationship. It was like a self-help thing,” he says with a laugh. “Not literally, but there was some reflection. Aesthetically, it was inspired by music that has influenced me over the years. I am a sucker for ’80s and ’70s hooks, stuff like Fleetwood Mac and Abba. You can feel that on the record.”
Switching from Arcade Fire’s expansive format to make a record by himself was a big adjustment.
“Usually, if you have a strong opinion in the group you have someone to bounce it off. When you are on your own, you have an opinion and then the next day you find yourself questioning it. I found my opinions shifting a lot.”
He wasn’t totally alone though: As the record developed Kingsbury brought in collaborators to color his songs, which range from the sleepy waltz “Up All Night” to the bright synthy pop of “Decibels,” and from the slinky rumblings of first single “St. Sebastian” to “Waiting to Wait,” which has an early rock ’n’ roll feel.
While Kingsbury played most of the instruments on the record, Arcade Fire drummer Jeremy Gara and Canadian singer-songwriter Basia Bulat formed the nucleus of the record’s backing band; they are members of Kingsbury’s touring band as well. (Bulat skips some dates due to commitments with her own tour.) Kingsbury first worked with Bulat nine years ago, playing bass on her second album and co-producing her third.
“We’ve made music together ever since, hanging out and jamming,” says Bulat. “For me, I love hearing Tim’s voice at the forefront. It will surprise people what a great singer he is. It’s been really fun to see the range of his voice, emotionally and vocally.”
Kingsbury also connected with some musical heroes, Tortoise’s John McEntire and Doug McCombs.
“I’ve been a big fan of their work since I was in high school,” says Kingsbury. “I reached out at the beginning of the record and went to Chicago to their studio. It happened really fast.”
Kingsbury expects some initial comparison to Arcade Fire’s music, and doesn’t mind a bit.
“It’s an asset for me to be in Arcade Fire, it helps me get the word out,” he surmises. “It’s obviously not an Arcade Fire record, but it doesn’t bother me if people compare.”
For now, he’s enjoying scratching his solo itch while he can. Arcade Fire, which released a single, “I Give You Power,” featuring Mavis Staples, in January to benefit the ACLU, begins a European tour in June.
“We’re putting the final touches on the new record; it’ll be out this year,” Kingsbury says. “It’s a busy year. I’ll do this touring and then jump back into Arcade Fire world.”
At Great Scott, Allston, Thursday at 9 p.m. Tickets: $12, www.boweryboston.com