By Jenna Lee Williams
EDMONTON — Jom Comyn’s powerful well-crafted lyrics cruise straight from the heart in a baritone vocal vehicle through a varied musical landscape. Effortless vocals, dark lyrics and catchy tunes make for some enjoyable listening. Jom Comyn is a band that can be tricky to classify, as the lead member takes musical cues from a variety of genres including pop, jazz, folk and beyond and has a varied discography (which even includes a noise/jazz tape, Comynge Tegythere) under their belt.
BeatRoute caught up with Jim Cuming, the humble permanent member of the Jom Comyn project, regarding his upcoming EP Black Pitts, the quick follow-up to the well-received 2014 full-length record In the Dark on 99 (All the Time, All the Time). He quickly revealed that his approach spawns from many varied directions. Growing up in a musical household (his father owned a music store) provided a creative environment during on the golden era of ‘90s radio pop (Brandy, TLC and Ace of Base), which, in part influenced how he structures his songs.
“I write the structure before I write the lyrics. In that sense I’m really not folk. I didn’t like that side of Bob Dylan. How he writes a 30-stanza ballad and then worries about things like chording and melody later… I think he makes great songs, they are fantastic, but in that sense I’m more pop. But I’m a dinosaur. My model is still Neil Young,” says Cuming.
As he entered high school and joined band, his instructor exposed him to the jazz genre.
“My band teacher asked me to play guitar in the jazz band. He was trying to coach me not to be a fancy noodle metal head guy that takes over the show… He showed me the jazz chord chard and that blew my mind,” recalls Cuming.
Years later, his sound his appropriately a hodgepodge of sounds. Fittingly, this release around it was created with help from a hodgepodge of friends.
“I usually only work on my own, or with Eric Cheng [of Born Gold],” he says. This time, on Black Pitts, “I had six songs, six different producers and six different spaces to record in. It was an interesting experiment.”
Cuming and his guitar are the common denominator on all tracks, but these collaborations brought even more variety to the tape. Opening track “Keep Trying” was done with Cheng, giving it a familiar sound. Meanwhile, “Lost in Time” features contributions from Garrett Johnson (of Brazilian Money).
“I have one [“Stay Inside”] that is very marching kind of grunge and I knew I wanted to have a ton of solos and riffing on it. In my mind I was thinking of [Layne L’Heureux’s] Diehatzu Hijets records and stuff, so [L’Heureux] worked on that one with me. The title track… I brought it to Liam Trimble [of Diamond Mind]. He as an approach that nobody else has… It has a kind of weird dance beat on it,” notes Cuming.
Fitting given the unusual choice of contributions, Cuming was writing for himself to achieve an optimal sound.
“When I write a song I know that it is a thing I want to get off my chest, normally the music I make is for myself and I don’t think anyone is going to take to it one way or another… with Black Pitts I was just writing for myself.“
For Jom Comyn’s upcoming live performance and tape release, Cuming will be accompanied by Jessica Jalbert (guitar), Jenni Roberts (drums), and Aaron Parker (bass). Expect special guests that worked with Cuming on the EP to make guest performances on Jom Comyn’s second set of the tape release show. As for what is next? Cuming worked with Parker Theissen on a music video for “Lost in Time,” which will be released soon.
Catch Jom Comyn’s cassette release w/ Mauno (Halifax) at Wunderbar Thursday July 9th.AB, Alberta, Jom Comyn, Wunderbar