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Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada | INDIE

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada | INDIE
Band Rock Alternative


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Welkin - Listen to Me"

If I’ve said it once, I’ve
said it a million times:
Two brothers in the same
band is a recipe for
success. I have a feeling
Vancouver psychedelic
rockers Welkin are going
to keep the streak alive.
Formed in 2001 and
featuring Geoff Birch on
vocals and guitar, Darren
Birch on drums, bassist
Jeff Powell and Chris Janz
on organ, Welkin deliver
the kind of imaginative,
deep and textured rock
that is the perfect soundtrack
for dreams of storming
the castle, surfing that
endless summer wave or
simply sitting stoned
alone in your backyard.
(Or, if you live in a
condo, stoned alone on
the patio. But you’d better
burn some incense if
you don’t want any trouble
at the next strata
Sure, lots of bands
make reference to the
green (not money, the
other green), but most of
the time it is nothing
more than an attempt at
undeserved street cred.
What those bands don’t
understand is there is
nothing that edgy about
weed in a town where
most of us can score pretty
much everywhere from
the paperboy to the pizza
guy. But Welkin genuinely
seem to have their finger
on the sedated pulse
of the stoner rock culture.
Granted, these guys aren’t
here to rock us out like
Fu Manchu or Sabbath;
Welkin want to take
us on a much mellower
trip, somewhere along
the lines of Wilco or
Blind Faith.
Nowhere is this more
evident than on their latest
effort, Strangers &
Exiles. The follow-up to
their highly acclaimed
debut, No Ordinary Elephant,
Strangers & Exiles
is a spellbinding release
with the power to take
the listeners up, bring
them down, set their
minds free and, quite
frankly, have them running
to the 7-Eleven at
3 a.m. for a bean and
cheese burrito and a Big
Turk. It’s an album well
worth checking out. But
you might want to call
your paperboy first, if
you know what I’m saying.
Come storm the castle
with Welkin tonight, Nov.
30, at the Backstage
Lounge, 8pm.
- R.C. Joseph, 24 hours - 24 Hours

"Welkin -Strangers & Exiles"

Welkin means, "vault of heaven". I used to think that was Raquel Welch's snatch. Welkin is a band I should hate. Phrases like "gorgeous tapestry" come to mind and make me wanna barf. Me no likey the airy-fairy, but this band has some teeth. Great production and excellent guitar work mix a little beast in with the beauty. Hell yeah, the songs are epic and constantly remind one of the apropos cover art (a painting of some lost souls adrift in stormy seas), but they don't bore me like Radiohead and they sure don't piss me off like Coldplay. Apparently, band mastermind Geoff Birch lives in a cabin in the Cascade Mountains for inpsiration. Well, it worked. I'd say the LSD worked too, as he and the band get down to business they way the Floyd used to. Good songs, good singin', good record.
-Shit Ricky, The NERVE Magazine, 2005. - The Nerve Magazine

"WELKIN -Strangers & Exiles (Independent)"

Unusual for a Vancouver-made record. Most Vancouver bands deal in concise songs, whether punk or roots or any other genre. Welkin, a trio led by Geoff Birch, is more concerned with mood and so the punchline takes its time coming. The songs on Welkin's CD tend to be lengthy, sometimes recalling progressive rock but sometimes also bringing to mind the atmospheric tension (and beauty) of the lauded but little known Blue Nile. Try the U2ish 'Psalm of Pearls'.
Rating: B
- Tom Harrision, The Province Newspaper, 2005. - The Province

"WELKIN -Strangers & Exiles (MapleNationwide/Universal)"

B.C.'s Welkin is the ultimate chill-out band, and their latest CD Strangers & Exiles can best be described as soft rock with a backbone. Mellow but not bland, the tempo is slow and steady and the songs frequently push the eight minute mark.

The disc's apex is the fully-realized prog masterpiece 'Howling Wind,' a success not in the sense of a lot of busy instrumental noodling, but in the sense of fully-formed musical ideas that are left to amble slowly towards a conclusion rather than be crammed into the 2:30 pop song formula.

Geoff Birch's expressive voice injects some warmth into the otherwise austere musical landscape, which conjures up memories of campfires and wilderness at night. Perfect for backyard stargazers, or city folks who wish they were.

-Erin Bell, SceneandHeard.ca 2005 - SceneandHeard.ca

"Welkin out of the Wilderness -B.C. act shows naked ambition on new CD"

It's something we all do, right? Strip naked and sing? Right? Maybe in the morning, when no one's around, we shut the curtains - not all the way, mind you - remove every article of clothing, and proceed to sing in front of a full-length mirror a medley of Kenny Rogers' classic storytelling songs beginning with Lucille, segueing nicely into The Gambler and winding up with a heart-wrenching, yet ultimately empowering version of Coward of the County.


Oh, come on. I'm the only one who does this?


Geoff Birch is with me - except for the whole Kenny Rogers thing.

The frontman for Vancouver band welkin professes to being a great believer in singing in the buff, admitting all of the vocal tracks on their latest release Strangers & Exiles were recorded sans pantaloons.

"It was something I stumbled across," Birch says a little sheepishly.

"It's sort of a concentration thing, and the vocal booth is hot, and I thought I'd try it when we were recording our first EP (2004's No Ordinary Elephant).

"I found that turning off all the lights and being nude and singing all of the vocal tracks it was absolutely just me and the music...

"I've found that it's incredibly freeing - and it's also good for some laughs.

"When the producer's like, 'Uh, Geoff, I've got to come in and adjust the mic - you're going to put your pants on, right?'

"I always promise and sometimes I don't."

Well, hopefully he and his band will be fully clothed and all mic adjustments will be done without fear of mixup - or cold hands - when welkin performs March 26 at the Night Gallery.

The show is part of a tour to celebrate the release of Strangers & Exiles, a massive, ambient art rock record full of gorgeous, often exhausting epics.

It's a mostly successful attempt at an organic Pink Floydian, Radioheadian album - a 70-plus minute journey inside of your mind, meant to take you far, far away from where you sit and into the furthest reaches of that wide open space.

"That's the goal," says Birch.

"Someone comes home late at night, throws on some headphones, puts one of our records on, and it takes them to another place.

"We also hope, too, it takes them to a good place."

Escaping to a better place is something that the thoughtful songwriter knows a great deal about.

He currently lives and writes with his wife in a somewhat secluded cabin in British Columbia's Cascade Mountains - where naked singing won't unnerve neighbours, mail carriers, churchgoers, etc.

It's a thousand miles mentally away from the place and job he held before heading for the hills.

For half a decade, Birch was a youth outreach worker in Vancouver's notorious east side.

His duties mainly included walking the streets and alleys at night dealing with what many would consider to be the hopeless cases - those kids trapped in a world of drugs and the sex trade.

Obviously, the experience affected him as a human being and an artist, and, despite walking away from it, still greatly affects both who he is and what he does.

"When I started that job I had my own ideas and I was a certain person at that point, and then after five years I think that it profoundly changed me," he says.

"I think I got more out of it than the people I helped.

"You felt like you were at the heartbeat of human suffering sometimes...

"I did that for five years, and then my wife and I moved out to the mountains," he says.

"We left behind a little of the madness."

-Mike Bell, The Calgary Sun, 2005/03/26 - The Calgary Sun

"Welkin -Strangers & Exiles"

It's probably not a good idea to dive too deep into "Strangers & Exiles" when on the blue side, because the Foghat-inspired first half-minute is the most deceptive album opener since the corker found on Death From Above 1979's debut. While not a depressing album, "Strangers & Exiles" is still far from being a barrel of monkeys, and if the words "achingly beautiful" were going to be used to describe anything, it would be Welkin's sophomore effort.

Led by Geoff Birch, the Vancouver band has created an experience that's meant to be taken straight from beginning to end. Be warned though, because it's not exactly a short journey – the album clocks in at 76 minutes. It's extremely hard to describe Welkin's sound without presenting the music itself, but here goes...

Not a sound has been overlooked, and nothing is misplaced on "Strangers & Exiles". The complexity of the arrangements is oft times awe-inspiring and mind-boggling, and just grows more so with each listen. Full of surreal imagery, the folding repetition of lyrics adds to the pulsing, melting, and swirling beauty of the beast, for "Strangers & Exiles" is a living and breathing thing.

Welkin are polar opposites of The Mars Volta, yet the closest kin at the same time – a backwards statement that makes sense in the far-off universe that both bands exist in. Both will give fantastic visions, and both will give weird tripped out dreams should a person fall asleep to the otherworldly sounds of their music. Chalk it up to personal experience.

-Jaclyn Arndt, SOULSHINE, Toronto 2005. - SOULSHINE

"WELKIN -Strangers & Exiles (Independent)"

Welkin's third album is its most ambitious to date. Although the inner-sleeve band photo makes the group look like Granville Street yahoos out for kicks and chicks, the disc is extremely professional and more than competent-sounding. Printed lyrics and immaculate artwork from painter Chris Mackenzie scream for the LP-jacket treatment.

Musically, Strangers & Exiles is traditional Can-Con fare that recalls the more reaching moments from the Northern Pikes' Show in June. That's not an insult, by the way. Songwriter, guitarist, and singer Geoff Birch has an extraordinary vocal range that wears occasional influences. Radiohead, the Flaming Lips, and U2 loom over the proceedings at times which is a shame because Birch, bassist Mark Christianson, and drummer Chad Bjorgan clearly have the skill to take their music to new places.

Clocking in at an epic 8 minutes and 57 seconds, the atrociously named "Veins You're So Beautiful You're In My..." proves that the band has mastered Song Structure 101, but with all 12 tracks taking a similar approach (a quiet/loud structure with lots of background dynamics), everything begins to sound a little MOR.

Welkin appear to take inspiration from our lush local surroundings; evident in the band's atmospheric instrumentation and Birch's nature-inspired lyrics, that's the group's most appealing quality.

-Kevin Howes, The Georgia Straight, VANCOUVER 2005. - The Georgia Straight

"Dream Catching in B.C. with Welkin"

It may be stargazing at a cabin atop the Rockies for Welkin's west coast fans, but once this band hits Toronto, it'll be all about Muskoka, sprawled across the cottage dock for us east coasters.

During my very first Welkin sound bite, I followed the advice of lead singer/songwriter, piano and guitar player, or better known as Welkin's 'brainchild', Geoff Birch, slapping on a pair of headphones. Since there are no stars in Toronto, I walked amidst a spring shower.

Welkin's sweeping melodies took me back to a late summer night, cottage tradition, setting 'dixie' cups aglow with birthday candles to float across the moon glistening lake.

Hard to believe Birch's piercing falsetto vocals, compared to the likes of Neil Young, Radio Head's Thom Yorke, and Flaming Lip's Wayne Coyne, were once shadowed by his bass guitar in various southern Ontario bands, heavier, though comparable, to I Mother Earth.

Plain sick of playing bass throughout the London pub circuit with 'wanna be rock stars', Birch tried a duo stint, seemingly comparable to Simon and Garfunkel, then moved out West and fumbled around solo, nurturing his skills as a singer/songwriter.

"I was tired of the bull shit in bands, the crash of egos and the unrealistic goals - we're gonna be rock stars, we're gonna be discovered. I had to break away from it for while," says Birch.

In time, Birch came around full circle and was ready to play in a band again. But, this time, he and his heavenly vision would be at the forefront. Pulling his totally convinced bass player off the street, and shifting through about five keyboarders and three drummers since 2001, Welkin now renders Mark Christianson on bass, Darren Birch (Geoff Birch's Brother) on drums, Daniel Sturgeon on keys/organ and of course, Geoff Birch, doing the rest.

"Originally it was the adrenaline rush of playing music live, but at some point I wanted more than that," says Birch. "I had my paradigm shift as I got more into songwriting, telling stories and relaying messages… I have dreams and visions, spiritual and mystical experiences."

Despite transitioning band members, Welkin's sound stayed steady, thriving an 'out of this cosmos', iridescent but misty ambiance and fused with visionary, lingering lyrics. It's no coincidence then, that Welkin's literary meaning is ""the vault of the sky, the firmament or the heavens".

Though hidden deep in their music, Welkin is diversely inspired and influenced by musical legends like Pink Floyd, the Grateful Dead, Paul Simon and Daniel Langlois…as well as spiritual legends like Jesus and 16th century monks.

Birch, who can be caught cranking 'the dead' on a Saturday morning making breakfast with his gut out and beard long, also sees Jesus as a loving and compassionate insurrectionist and believes monks have a deeper understanding of the world.

"We are not a Christian band…there are no blatant references to Jesus in our music because we don't want to alienate anyone…but it's there if you look for it," admits Birch.

Birch rejects the angry messages many bands send out through their music and lyrics now-a-days, not because there's nothing in this world to scream angst about, but because it's just too easy to do so. Peace, love and hope are the deeper messages Welkin wishes to send out to listeners.

"There is a lot to be angry about…but it's not just about anger. It takes more character to identify what's wrong and offer a solution. Instead about being bitter, it's just about being kind." says Birch. "Do I sound like a total hippy? I swear my beard isn't that long."

Welkin's work-in-progress, double disc, concept album, Silver Stars, which Birch compares to Pink Floyd's, The Wall, does just that, taking the listener on a journey through "darkness and battle" towards "redemption and light". Available now is Welkin's two-year-old, full-length debut, No Ordinary Elephant, and a recent 22-minute EP release.

Birch believes that first-time Welkin listeners either love or hate the band because they sound like nothing else currently out there. Though he wants nothing less, it can work for and against them.

"I don't want to be taken in luke warm way. Some people really like us, and others don't know what to do with us. At our shows there are at least a handful of people that aren't clapping at end, but are so freaking stunned. We really reached deep inside them and touch them in a beautiful way," says Birch.

Welkin yearns to hit Toronto live, with audio, video, lighting, smoke machine effects, and, of course, their mystical music, during a fall/winter 2004 targeted Canadian tour.

Whatever future success Welkin unearths, Birch believes the band, which often plays benefit shows donating 11 per cent of proceeds to Enable International, has found it's musical niche. Honing their skills, here, is what's most important.

"I think success has to be finding value in what you are doing…there is something from yourself that makes it worthwhile," says Birch. "Recognition is very fleeting…in a lot of ways we have already succeeded… we understand what matters in the world."

-Sophie Nicholls, SOULSHINE, Toronto 2004. - SOULSHINE

"Welkin - self-titled EP"

Pink Floyd and Radiohead would be proud. With that said, Geoff Birch keeps it real for Welkin as a band truly ready to tour Canada to sold out shows once realized. Although we've only been graced with the presence of a self titled 3 track EP, a full length album is in the works as of summer 2004, so be prepared for greatness to reinvent itself. 'Small' is anything but, it's the mood of the album, whereas 'Horses Heaving Under These Silver Stars' is pure gold and will be what pokes Geoff Birch and the boys in the gut and lead them to continued artistic brilliance. This is an EP that will never age and can be played over and over without loosing its magic.

-Lindsay Bloemink, SOULSHINE Toronto 2004 - SOULSHINE

"Welkin Shuns the Dark Side - The ambitious Vancouver band prefers to shine a little light"

To get maximum listening enjoyment out of Welkin's sweeping 'No Ordinary Elephant', singer-songwriter Geoff Birch has a suggestion.

"On our Web site I tell people to lug their speakers out into the back yard," the toque-clad 28-year-old says, sipping coffee outside Joe's Cafe on Commercial Drive. "Then they can turn up the stereo really loud and gaze at the welkin."

For those who flunked theology, the welkin, as defined by the ITP Nelson Canadian Dictionary, is the vaulf of heaven. Birch took the name for his band because he felt it captured the spirit of the songs he writes, and indeed it somehow does. Equal parts smouldering country-noir and prog-leaning soft rock, the 10 tracks on the group's independent debut have an expansive, shimmering beauty, making them perfect for midnight stargazing, backwoods campfires, and clamping on the headphones in the wee hours.

Birch was born in Regina, which perhaps explains why, on this day fit only for penguins and prairie folk, he professes to be perfectly comfortable wearing a short-sleeve shirt. He started his musical career as a bassist in what he describes as an I Mother Earth-style hard-rock band. After relocating to Stratford, Ontario, the contemplative musician toned things down, performing on the pub circuit as part of a Simon and Garfunkel-style duo. In 1995, Birch made the move out west, partly because he hated Toronto, partly because he couldn't believe the natural beauty of the West Coast.

"My parents were living out here, and I'd come and visit, go snowboarding and hiking and stuff like," he says. "It became clear to me that this is an incredible place. It might be a better bet to be doing music in Toronto, but I was really taken with the lifestyle out here."

After two years of playing solo around town, Birch put together Welkin, which started out as a three-piece and has since expanded to five musicians. Joining the singer are his drummer brother Darren Birch, bassist Mark Christianson, and keyboardists Iana Khoziainova and Jeanine LeDuc. The project has proved to be an ambitious one, as 'No Ordinary Elephant' displays a breadth and sonic depth rarely heard in local releases, with all the adrift-on-desolate-frontiers songs topping five minutes, and a couple clocking in over seven.

"I feel that I have to cut down a lot of times when I'm writing," Birch says. "Sometimes things get crazy to whre songs are 11 minutes long. I've got a lot of ideas, and I have to take heart in the fact that other people have done this sort of thing and succeeded. Pink Floyd did it - they were totally out there. I'm sure the record labels told them they were really artsy and not commercial enough."

Further separating Welkin from the pack is that Birch, whose high, keening vocals display a noticeable indebtedness to Neil Young, isn't your stereotypical rock musician. A youth worker with the Downtown Eastside Youth Activities Society, the singer spends much of his time with at-risk street kids. The things he's exposed to on a day-to-day basis should, in theory, make for the kind of tortured art that's made millionaires out of acts like Tool and Linkin Park. Birch, however, isn't interested in the dark side on 'No Ordinary Elephant', and there's a reason for that.

"I don't know how personal you guys get in these interviews," he say. "Straight up, about six years ago, I took a good, long, hard look at the historical Jesus. I became convinced of all that Jesus claimed to be. When I say that to people, they automatically have all these stereotypes in their mind. They'll be like, 'Uh-oh--you're a Christian, you're a churchgoer, and blah blah blah.' I more defy people's stereotypes of who Jesus was. For me, he wan't a Mr. Rogers, a passive pansy-ass, He was an insurrectionist, a rebel, a man with a great capacity for love who could see through people whether they were a prostitute or a king."

When you understand where Birch is coming from, the lyrics on 'No Ordinary Elephant', which never make blatant references to Christianity, have an extra relevance. Take the countrified 'Montana', for instance, which on the surface seems like a mesquite-sunset number about driving the back roads of one of America's most scenic states. Birch say the song operates on that level, but, to him, it's also about celebrating the incredible beauty of something God has created.

Offering even more illumnination on the way his faith helps him see the world is 'Photograph'. The tune finds Birch wondering, with lines such as "Back in the alley a flash that caught my eye/Dressed like a fire his voice spilled like gushing water", whether or not God sometimes makes apparances in unexpected pleaces. An atmospheric, jazz-tinted sleeper that's all low-key piano and brushes-on-snares cool, 'Photograph' stands on its own as an impressive bit os sonic art. It's when Birch goes into a detailed breakdown of the song, however, that one realizes the singer has more on his mind than hooks.

"In the Downtown Eastside, there are a lot of people that I'm sure most of society would classify as crazy," he say. "The stories I hear on a weekly basis are, to say the least, very interesting. An old whisky drunk will be like, 'I saw an angel the other night.' Most people would be like, 'Yeah, right. Whatever.' If something like that happened to a surgeon in his Land Rover, he just might dismiss it as some sort of scientific happening, or maybe like, 'I didn't eat enough today.' But what if it's true? Who would be the most receptive people to things like that? Would it be the down-and-out and the poor? Going back 2,000 years, that's who Jesus hung out with."

Like P.O.D. and MXPX, Birch sees, and rightly so, nothing strange about being a Christian working in pop music. And like those acts, he's able to craft songs in which there are messages about the importance of faith, but only if people really go looking for them. So when he promises a religious experience when Welkin plays the Railway Club next Thursday (February 20), he's talking strictly about the band's live show.

"U2 has expressed faith in Jesus and they've done that their whole career in a very subtle way," he says. "The Christian community has created its own subculture with its own TV stations and radio stations and own music and music stores. Even as someone who shares the same beliefs as that community, those things totally cheese me out. I'm not going to be part of that. We're supposed to live in this world, not apart from this world."

-Mike Usinger, THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, Vancouver 2003. - The Georgia Straight


Welkin has 3 releases to date:

'Strangers & Exiles' released 2005 - full-length sophomore record distributed by Maple/Universal and released across Canada to record stores on March 29th/05.

'3 Song EP' released 2004 - limited edition

'No Ordinary Elephant' released 2002. Full-length debut record.



Magical, bleak and beautiful, the music of welkin is fearless, feral, ethereal and epic in proportion. On their newest release 'Strangers & Exiles', the 12 tracks are as brilliant and austere as the aurora borealis in a cold night sky with Geoff Birch’s voice taking them to the “vault of heaven” (or the “welkin”) with depth and humanity.

Welkin is the brainchild of singer, songwriter, producer and musician Geoff Birch. He occasionally performs solo but most often with his band. For inspiration, Birch lives in a cabin in the Cascade Mountains of British Columbia where he writes the words and composes the music for all of the welkin songs. In the recording studio, he lays down all his vocal tracks in the nude. He says it gets him a little closer to the music. Welkin is rounded out by its two other members, drummer-brother Darren Birch and Jeff Powell on bass.

Based in Vancouver and formed in 2001, welkin’s psychedelic art rock has proven to be worthy of attention. The band’s discography includes the critically acclaimed debut 'No Ordinary Elephant'. Their 2004 EP received excellent reviews and the much anticipated sophomore record 'Strangers and Exiles' was chosen out of more than 500 bands across British Columbia to receive the MUSIC BC/Precision Disc Manufacturing prize of 1000 free pressed CDs. Just back from their Canadian Tour, Welkin is setting their sites on recording a new record and touring in Canada, the U.S. and Europe.

In true Daniel Lanois-esque style, 'Strangers and Exiles' covers a wide musical terrain ranging from the sweeping title track, to the otherworldly 'The One Great Night', the driving 'Beautiful One', the ephemeral 'Horses Heaving Under These Silver Stars' and majestic sounds of 'Howling Wind'. For best listening results, lug your speakers into your backyard and aim them at the “welkin”. Let the music do the rest.

Praise for 'No Ordinary Elephant':

“Equal parts smouldering, country-noir and prog-leaning soft rock, the 10 tracks on the group’s independent debut have an expansive shimmering beauty, making them perfect for midnight stargazing, backwoods campfires, and clamping on the headphones in the wee hours.”
Mike Usinger, The Georgia Straight - VANCOUVER

Praise for 'Strangers and Exiles':

“Pink Floyd and Radiohead would be proud. With that said, Geoff Birch keeps it real for Welkin as a band truly ready to tour Canada to sold out shows once realized. Small is anything but, it’s the mood of the album, whereas Horses Heaving Under These Silver Stars is pure gold and will be what pokes Geoff Birch and the boys in the gut and lead them to continued artistic brilliance.”
Soulshine – TORONTO