By Mike Dunn
CALGARY – Twenty years deep into a recording career that has placed them in rarified air in Canadian music, as both a near ubiquitous influence on a certain style of rock n’ roll, and still a vital group creating vibrant and original music that always bears their unique signature blend of spazzy rock n’ roll, high and lonesome country, and the earliest strains of California country rock.
“Well, we’re kind of one-trick ponies, in that this is all we really know how to do,” laughs vocalist and guitar player Dallas Good over the phone from his home in Toronto. “We’ve been really lucky do what we do for so long. After so long in music, things are bound to change, whether positively or negatively, but with us, it’s the same four people, the same concept. My brother (Travis Good) and I are still using the same guitars we used on the very first singles in ’96 or whatever year. I mean, maybe we’ve dug our own ditch as well, where we’re only going to appeal to a certain type of music listener, and we’re not gonna reach too many more people outside of that, but we are so fucking comfortable within that.”
Perhaps part of what’s kept the vibe within The Sadies so fresh over the years has been the band’s numerous forays as a backing band, recording and touring with artists like Neko Case, John Langford, Andre Miller, and their most recent collaborative effort with Gord Downie on 2014’s Gord Downie, The Sadies, and The Conquering Sun. The album found the band playing a much more driving and raucous sound, backing Downie with the kind of punk energy that gave the Tragically Hip frontman a lot of room to add his poetic magic to a different vibe than listeners were maybe used to.
“When we made that record, it was over a span of maybe seven or eight years, getting together when we weren’t all so busy, and it was just a great way to hang out as friends,” says Good. “The energy of that music was part of the intention, to do something a little more driving than maybe even The Sadies would normally do, you know? Just a bit more aggressive and amped up. But none of us wanted to go into the studio for five days, spit out a record and hope people like it. Now most of the time when we collaborate, we usually get songs from other artists and play it like The Sadies, but with this, Gord would come by, and we’d all work together to come up with something we all really liked. It was never like, ‘Here’s a song without a home, let’s just see what happens.’ And it was so much fun to tour it because the aesthetic did lend itself to more heavy songs to fill out the set. We became really close during that time, and that’s something that’s invaluable to us.”
As The Sadies prepare to head out on tour, doing a full retrospective of their recording career, Good hints what’s in store.
“We’ve never really done it, but we’re planning on bringing out a bit of new material live, before we’ve totally committed to it, just for the experience. There is a sense of dedication to our own history though, and we’ll be playing through a lot of the catalogue. Just speaking from my own perspective, as a player you can tell when things hit new heights musically, and I can hear it, we’re better now than we’ve ever been.”
The Sadies play Nov. 5 at Wild Bill’s (Banff), Nov. 6 The Hideout (Red Deer), Nov. 8 Station on Jasper (Edmonton) and Nov. 9 The #1 Legion (Calgary).Station, The #1 Legion, The Hideout, The Sadies, Wild Bills