Through pandemics and personal hardships, Ken Tizzard emerges with an all-star collaboration that serves as a testament to his lifetime in music, All Together Now
Keep calm and carry on is a slogan that has been great to market for things like bumper stickers, cell phone cases, and Internet memes. Punchy, slick, and to the point, it’s the type of remark that goes good tied to the end of a worst-case scenario joke or an inspirational ‘you got this,’ from a friend.
‘ROLL WITH THE PUNCHES’
You could say then that the ideology of ‘keep calm and carry on,’ was made for Ken Tizzard, a career musician who has had to roll with the punches a time or two in his day.
Tizzard, known as a key member of chart-topping 90s rockers The Watchmen and for a run of successful solo records, returns with a collab-album for the ages in Ken Tizzard And Friends All Together Now.
The album, recorded entirely during the COVID-19 pandemic, is comprised of 13 cover tunes recorded by 44 musicians across North America, combining a who’s who of the wide world of music – with names stemming from marquee attractions like Hedley, Big Wreck, Headstones, Nickelback and 3 Doors Down – with upstarts and hidden gems.
“This is a culmination of my life’s experience and people that have worked with me over my life,” Tizzard shared in a one-on-one with The Herald.
“I’ve got old friends from Newfoundland, of course, everybody from my old punk rock friends like Dean Locke and Sean Panting to some of the more folky people like Paul Kinsman and Sandy Morris. But then bringing in new people. I had never worked with Greg Hawco before and that was amazing. Peter Collins and Glen Collins, they used to play in a band with my sister back in the early 80s, and I was too young to get into shows
“… All that is from my old part of Newfoundland. Then I moved to Toronto and I got people here that I’ve worked with for the last 30 years, like you say, the rock and roll world. It was really cool to bring all these people together.”
Faced with the immense task of compiling the contributions of over four dozen artists, Tizzard enlisted the aid of Mike Turner (Our Lady Peace) for mixing, with mastering handled by the renowned Noah Mintz. Both played a key role in helping shape a project that truly required all hands to rise.
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‘IT JUST KEPT DEVELOPING’
“I was blown away with the people that reached out and how many of them wanted to get involved, but I was surprised at the way it came together. It had so many times where it could have derailed into a disaster and just became a nothing, but it didn’t. And it just kept developing.”
Housebound pre-pandemic to aid in the recovery of his loving wife Allison, who underwent a stem cell bone marrow transplant, Tizzard admits that, without the aid of longtime friends like Turner, this project may have never seen the light of day.
“I started putting this album together last February or March, and Allison was in recovery, but she was walking and she was doing better, just a little bit. She could get up and get herself a glass of water or something like that. But because of the treatment she ended up with a bunch of osteoporosis and broke her hip last year.
Right when I started doing this record, suddenly, I had a wife who was fully bedridden and couldn’t do anything. And that was when I turned back to Mike and said I might have to get you on this project. It’s really cool, but my life has just taken a major change,” he explained. “I’ve got to say, if it wasn’t for Mike Turner stepping up the way he did, the album would have a totally different outcome.”
AN ECLECTIC CAREER
Track-wise, All Together Now is rounded out by tunes that trace a line between Tizzard’s eclectic career in the music industry. From REM and Tears For Fears to Tom Petty, Van Morrison and George Jones, the album serves as a living reminder of Tizzard’s path throughout the sonic highways.
“A lot of these bands come from my sort of impressionable time as a teenager when music really makes its stamp on you,” Tizzard explains.
“I’ve done so much different stuff over the years. And as an artist, I change. It does include elements of the punk rock and new wave into the rock and roll and folk and country. I wasn’t really aware of that when I was choosing the songs, but after I kind of chose the songs that I wanted for the album and sat back and looked at it I said oh my god, what a weird combination this is. But this is my combination, so weird or not it’s what made sense to me.”
One key contribution to the album of particular emotional significance is the inclusion of Tizzard’s daughters, Caitlyn and Cassidy, who provided key vocals on a slew of signature cuts.
“I was so happy to have my daughters involved. I mean, I’ve been trying to include them in my music forever and they’re always very gracious,” Tizzard shares. “They both are pursuing their own things in life, but they have music in their life which I’m really proud of. It’s nice when you’ve got your kids involved in what you do.”
Despite personal hurdles and a worldwide pandemic, All Together Now is a testament to the advancements in the music business, the resilience of its artists and the passion to create that has propelled Ken Tizzard for decades.
“Ron Hynes was one of those guys who always said, I’m going to play till I die. And that’s what I see for me, too. I mean, I’ve lived my life of rock and roll, fame, radio, video play and all that stuff. I’ve had a really good time with that,” Tizzard shares.
LIVING MORE IN THE NOW
“Moving ahead day by day for me, it’s about just getting up and doing what I feel a need to do and then making it through to the end of the day and trying it again tomorrow. There’s no real five-year plan for me or ten-year plan like it used to be. It’s more just trying to live more in the now than ever. And I find that when I live in the now, I’m actually getting stuff done. I get up every day and I work and I find that things are happening.”