Indie rock icons of the Canadian music world, The Sadies forge ahead in the wake of their new album and tour alongside friends and fellow greats Blue Rodeo. Before the start of the tour founding member Travis Good caught up with The Herald for a candid instalment of our Q&A series. (Note: interview conducted in January of 2017)
Q: You’re hitting the road with fellow Canadian rock icons Blue Rodeo, which surely will wind up being one of the years best. I know you guys are quite close with them on a personal level.
A: They were probably the earliest supporters of The Sadies. 23 years ago or whatever it was when we first started, they were so incredibly supportive.
Q: You’ve done work with Greg Keelor in the side project The Unintended, and as you mention there’s such a familiarity there with Blue Rodeo throughout the years. That certainly must make the touring process easier?
A: It makes me really look forward to the tour. I’m really excited about it actually. I’m a crusty old man – it’s hard to get me excited nowadays. They really truly are family. You couldn’t be any closer to a band without all of us getting in the same van.
Q: That’s kind of a smaller example of how supportive and attentive Canadian artists are with one another. No more is that truer than with you and The Sadies, with all the side-work and collaborations with other artists you’ve worked on throughout the years. In that regard do you find the Canadian scene accessible for collaborations and working with other artists?
A: In that regard for sure. We’ve been really lucky too just to play with some of our musical heroes and best musical friends. It really rubs off on you doing that. It’s a good way to take a break from The Sadies and taking a break while not taking a break – staying incredibly busy and being productive and soaking all of the influences in from all of these people that we love to work with. We’re really lucky. I think that really has something to do with our longevity.
Q: You talk of Canadian bands like The Tragically Hip and Blue Rodeo and you guys are right up there in terms of being established and having that credibility. 23 years is a hell of a run, and fairly rare in todays landscape.
A: It’s true. It’s rare, especially for us to have all the original members and same four guys for 23 years. Also it’s rare to be at the level we’re at. We’re doing ok, but we’re not headlining at the hockey rink. Most bands who would not make it into the hockey rink after 10 years, (they’d say) that would be a good try. Most of them would quit at that point, but we’re just starting to get a hang of all this. We are late learners.
Q: I think the thing with The Sadies is consistency and consistent quality. It can be argued you’ve put our your best stuff in the last 8-10 years.
A: Thanks, and I think that’s probably true. Again I think that’s from influences rubbing off and influences from bands that we’ve toured with and just learning things. We started off as mostly instrumental music in our first record and there was no aspirations of being singers for me and Dallas (Good – Travis’ brother and founding member of The Sadies). That’s something that really started to take off with working and touring with Blue Rodeo. That was probably the first time we had actual proper monitors on the stage. We really honed in on the vocals and having Greg produce us. Those guys are really great singers. It was like getting lessons basically off of those guys. It helped us along with things like singing and songwriting. At first all I cared about was guitar, it was just guitar guitar guitar. Singing was just something you had to do to fill in the blank spots around the guitar, but it has come full circle. I kind of feel like The Sadies are concentrating on the whole song now.
Q: You just released your 10th studio record Northern Passage. The consensus seems to be that this is one of the most cohesive records you guys have created. Is there more of a familiarity and comfort when it comes to songwriting and piecing together a record at this stage?
A: It was very comfortable. We’re getting better at it as we go along. This one felt comfortable because we also recorded it in our parents basement this time. That’s where Dallas and I used to play in our punk rock bands when we were teenagers. We’re pretty comfortable there and it makes you not worry about the clock so much.
Q: Thematically then, how would you describe Northern Passage?
A: You know, we’re getting old and set in our ways. It sounds like a Sadies record for sure. We just go and do our thing. My goal is to please our old fans, I don’t really care if we get new fans. Really I want the people who have supported us for the last 20 years to like what we’re still doing. That’s all I really care about, and hopefully there are a few songs from this record that we can put into the live show. That’s really the goal, that I sure hope the people who like us don’t turn on us. I’m going to go knock on a piece of wood.
Visit www.thesadiees.net for more information on the band and to purchase ‘Northern Passage.’ Tickets for tonight’s must-see Blue Rodeo/The Sadies concert at Mile One Centre in St. John’s are available at mileonecentre.com, by phone and at the box office.