photo credit: E.H. Tiernan

photo credit: E.H. Tiernan






Tale of the Stage:

Laurier Tiernan

Location: Tokyo, Japan

Playing a mix of punk rock and pop Laurier Tiernan tackles deep and light subjects like a boxer in the first round of a prize fight.


It has taken us a year to do it but here we present Laurier Tiernan as told by Wendy Horikoshi.


photo credit: E.H. Tiernan

The Artist Formerly Known as tiernan 

I am talking to Laurier Tiernan, who has just made the surprising metamorphosis from successful live band, to solo artist. He made the decision after emergency heart surgery in March 2008, turning to some new recruits, Martin Saint on bass and Lyle Carr on drums.

His songs range from the screaming, weeping tales of domestic abuse and smashed love, to the commentaries on modern politics.  I am a fan, so is my 6 year old, (who stood up in a club in Tokyo after a particularly gut wrenching song and screamed Whoooo YEAH!)

Laurier says:

I'm not suited to being in bands. I'm like Sting or Prince, a person who has a singular vision of what he wants, and would only be slowed down by having to debate things with band members.

"The artist formerly known as tiernan" is an excellent title because there are SHITLOADS of radio stations playing my stuff under "tiernan".  This is actually a great chance to make a transition.

W: How did you get into music?

L: I sang in choirs and was totally obsessed with making mixed tapes from the age of five.  When I was seventeen, my mom got me my first acoustic guitar, then I started singing and screaming in punk bands. I totally wanted to make it big, but had no clue of the hard work that was involved.  I wasted years waiting for someone to discover me.  At the age of twenty six I went to music school, and got my first airplay.  I always thought if my song writing was good enough, it would all just fall together.  It took emergency heart surgery to wake me up and make me realize that I COULD make my dreams come true, but I had to make it happen by myself. The demo for the new album is now on over a hundred and fifty five radio stations worldwide in four continents.

W: I hear you are currently waging a campaign to get your music onto the most net radio stations in the world.

L: Well, it's actually on more traditional analog radio stations.  Internet radio is great, especially if you can get people like Westfield Radio and Ville Radio in your corner.  However, for my intended plan of global conquest, I need to be on as many traditional radio stations as possible. 

As for the band name, I had been operating under my last name, Tiernan for a year with a good deal of success, but I found that it was a difficult name for people to remember, in Japan.  "LAURIER" is my first name, and it distinguishes me from the band "tiernan" that came before me.

W: On stage you look thin, frail, and very vulnerable at first.

The kind of gauntness that makes me, want to make you, a sandwich. Then I hear you rip into a song, and I grin.  I see the shock on peoples faces, people who haven't seen you perform before.  It's like "Oh, he can sing!"  I know having a heart condition changed the way you thought about life.  Did it limit you?

L: It limited me in some ways because I wanted to be a lifeguard in my early teens, but they wouldn't give me a license, on account of my heart condition.  Then I wanted to play basketball in high school but my cardiologist wouldn't let me.  In terms of my musical career it limited me in the sense that I kept on getting depressed and wasting time that could have been spent working on the music. 

I was born with a rare condition called Marfan's Syndrome which in fact is a cellular problem that ends up causing a heart condition, scoliosis and an inability to gain weight, amongst other things. 

W: Tell me about the kinds of music you first were into, and about how that has influenced your personal style.

L: The first bands I was in were like glam versions of the Sex Pistols, lots of power chords and vanity.  In retrospect we sounded like Billy Talent (Laughs).   I like Billy Talent a lot.  Bands I was in at the time had more of an alternative feel, like in the classic eighties sense; lots of reverb and feedback with a lot of experimentation and blurring genre lines.  One concert reviewer from that period said my band sounded like the Velvet Underground meets Discharge.  That period gave me a love of all things simple, dark and honest, although I'm trying to shed the dark lately.  It can be a lot of dead weight.

W: What things do you write about now?  How are you getting yourself into "shedding the dark"?

L: Lately I am trying to let myself write about whatever comes to mind, like when I was younger, but now I have a (self-imposed) mission of trying to write positive songs that motivated people to change the world for the better by changing themselves. It's like new age Emo, I guess, which I find takes a lot more effort than just moaning about problems.

W: How do you deal with hecklers? Even Lou Reed has them.

L: That's another way in which I've grown in the past few years.  At one of the first tiernan gigs, there were six English football hooligans threatening us and making fun of us in the front row.  They wouldn't shut up for like ten minutes.  I ended up spitting at the biggest one and accidentally kicking my water bottle all over the stage.  I've since learned to be more diplomatic with them. Generally, if you can stay calm, you will win.  They aren't very smart.

W: Reed, in his younger days, used to keep a note book, and write poetry, which he sometimes turned into songs.  Andy Warhol used to call him up when he was in Velvet Underground, and give him subjects to write songs about. 

How does the process work with you? 

I spoke to you once and you said,

"Wow, I will have to remember that, it would make a great line for a song".

What's the inspiration for your music? 

L: I found, through a book called "The Artist's Way" that keeping a journal of at least three pages a day really stimulates the writing process. You can write about anything, to let your subconscious know that it's okay to write about anything, so it comes out naturally. I used to write poetry, but ever since I got my first guitar I've been in the "song writing trap". I tend to find myself writing with the preconception that I'm working on a song.  Soon I will try to let myself loosen and write for writing's sake again.  I like Bob Dylan's idea that, "If I can sing it, it's a song.   If I can't sing it, it's a poem, and if it's too long to be a poem, it's a story."

W: Were you ever in those bands that wore too much make up?

L: Ha!  No.  I grew up in rural Alberta, which is like the Texas of Canada.  Even the glam metal bands there used to refrain from using make up, for fear of being beat up because they "looked gay". Of course, I used to wear eyeliner, bleach my hair and wear girl’s jeans, amongst other things, and almost got my ass kicked a few times anyway. 

W: Tell me about trying to get started in Japan as a live musician.

L: It's like anywhere else, but there's a lot more pay to play, which I think musicians should refuse to do.  Just get out there and meet people, connect via the internet.  Find out what they want and deliver it to them. Above all else be polite, enthusiastic and on time.

W: What's the difference between a U.S. or Canadian audience and a Japanese one?

Do you feel you are getting across the meaning of your songs when performing to a Non English Speaking Audience?

L: I find that North American audiences are more open to bands they don't know, more likely to go see artists they don't know, for the experience.  The Japanese market has much more of a cult of celebrity, so they may go see Bon Jovi or Madonna, not because they particularly like them, but because they're famous.  I learned the hard way that Japanese people seem to appreciate the soft sell.  I wasn't getting across as much when I used to scream more, but now that my songs have more humor and more gentleness to them, I'm getting a lot more Japanese people coming up to me and saying,

"I like what you're trying to say there".

W: Do you hate people who clap on the 1st and 3rd? 

L: An artist would end up shooting themselves like Cobain if they let it get to them.  I've really come to a point in my life where I'm just happy if people connect with the music. At my last big show with tiernan, there was one guy flashing pocket lasers above our heads and one girl who did a back flip in front of the stage, and I was like,

"Hey, whatever.  Come as you are."

W: Tell me how to get a hold of all your music, new and old.

The easiest places are itunes and amazon.com.  Just go there and do a search for "tiernan" "The End of the World".  The demo was originally released under "tiernan", so it will take a while to show up under "LAURIER".   There's also a banner with a link at the top of the "Tiernan" and the "LAURIER" Myspace pages.  Just click on that and it will take you directly to the demo at itunes. 



By Wendy Horikoshi. 



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Copyright 2008 Hillbilly Publications. Twisted Hillbilly is a registered trademark.

Copyright 2008 Hillbilly Publications. Twisted Hillbilly is a registered trademark.


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