Interview: Ron Sexsmith

 by Michael Bell

(2008) One of Canada’s premier tunesmiths will be coming to Peterborough in August. 9 albums, a bunch of tours and thousands of fans including the likes of Elvis Costello, Paul McCartney and Sheryl Crow and Ron has hit the big time. He recently performed at Showplace to a sold out hall and his appearance at Crary Park will give thousands more an opportunity to find out why he’s become one of the most sought after songwriters around. A reserved performer and nervous traveler, Ron spoke to me a few days after returning from his European “vacation”......

Mb: Hi Ron
Ron: How are we doing?
Mb: Doing well. So we're interviewing you because you're coming back to Peterborough in August.
Ron: That's right.
Mb: You've been up here a number of times. How do you like playing here?
Ron: Ya, it's all been pretty good memories. I played there not too long ago, actually. I played a theatre. I think it was just a one-off show. It was a good time. I don't know too much about Peterborough though. I don't get there except to play from time to time.
Mb: Well it's a uni and college town. I imagine a perfect market for you.
Ron: Ya, it's hard for me to say really. I don't know how I do it terms of the colleges. It's nice to think that anyway.
Mb: So you've been out of town of late, I hear.
Ron: Ya, I'm on a bit of a promo trip overseas. I've done a few different trips actually Last month I went to Scandinavia and all these places and the other day I went to London and Paris for a couple of days.
Mb: Fantastic. Is that something you like to do, travel?
Ron: Ah well, that's a tough one because.. I mean, I love performing. I don't mind if I'm in a tour and we're traveling around in a van or something. I'm not a big fan of flying.. airports and stuff. I'm kinda nervous. I'm a nervous traveler. When I don't have to do too much flying I enjoy it.
Mb: So what do you do when you get to an airport? Are you a nervous guy and then have a couple of drinks on the plane or try to sleep or...?
Ron: I don't go that route. It's just that, they put you through so much. By the time you get to your gig, you know? I feel really stressed out... and then actually being on the plane; all the turbulence. Nobody likes that right? I've just got more and more... it never used to bother me so much. Now I get pretty nervous about it. But I'm not pounding them back. I guess I could take something to knock me out, but I want to be alert.
Mb: So what else do you like to do in life, besides perform. Any hobbies?
Ron: Not a whole lot really. I like to watch movies and reading. But for me, the happiest time is when I'm home playing my piano and drinking coffee. That's my favourite thing to do really. I like walking around. I walk more than almost anybody I know. I don't golf or anything (laughs) Music for me and songwriting is a 24/7 kind of thing. I'm always writing. And if I'm not writing, I'm learning somebody else's songs to play for my own amusement. So I don't have a lot of time for anything else.
Mb: And where does the inspiration come from when you're writing? Where do you find you're getting the best tunes?
Ron: Ah, it's sort of all around you. That's the thing about being a songwriter. It's really about staying open. You never really know when your next idea is going to come. You may overhear it in passing. You may watch a movie and somebody says something in a movie and the lightbulb comes on over your head. A lot of times it's just because you're going through some stuff. and whatever it is. It's my job to kind of recognize it and try to take it somewhere. That's kinda what I do for a living really. The other stuff is the fun stuff, performing and everything. But it's hard work doing the writing.
Mb: And how was writing the new record? Did it come to you easily?
Ron: Some parts did. Some parts came to me easier than on some previous records. The lyrics on this album seemed to kind of flow more without too much trouble. Lyrics have always been the toughest part. I was working on it and started writing the songs when i was recording my last record and while I was waiting for it to come out. I don't know how I do it. It's just a matter of staying ahead of yourself. So I don't really know how long it took me. Sort of the standard amount of time.
Mb: It's a different sounding record this time around.
Ron: Ya I think so. Every record I try to take it someplace else. This record just because of the horns it gives it a different vibe, I suppose.
Mb: I kept thinking you'd been listening to a lot of Blood sweat and Tears!
Ron: (laughs) It wasn't my idea to have horns on the record. My original idea was to make the record just me and the piano. It was what I wanted to do originally. It just grew into this whole other thing. The horns were almost an after thought. We recorded most of the record in England and my producer got the idea. He thought a lot of these songs would benefit from horns and he'd been to Havana before and recorded there and found some of the best horn players he'd ever heard so we hopped on a plane and went down there... and right away.. I mean I wasn't sure if it was going to work, but right away I dug what they were doing, the whole Latin thing.
Mb: Has it been received well by everyone as a new sound and growth or... ?
Ron: I think so. Most of the reviews I've seen have been quite positive. I'm sure there's some bad ones out there, but you can't please everybody.
Mb: Speaking of pleasing everyone, I have to ask you, how did it feel to have Elvis Costello become one of your biggest fans?
Ron: That was so long ago. That was about '95? It really gave me a push, you know, because I was struggling with my first record. It really wasn't doing well and then Elvis started talking about it. Then it got re-released in '96 and had a second life. So I've always been grateful to him for that. We've toured a bunch of times and we've remained in touch over the years. But that whole Elvis thing is part of ancient history (laughs)
Mb: So what else? What do you want to say to our readers?
Ron: I'm really looking forward to playing the Festival of Lights. Anytime I get a chance to play with my guys, my band... I'm looking forward to hanging out. I really like playing Canada in general. I'm kinda a home body. We're doing a bunch of things this summer. Edmonton... and all that and the Peterborough show. I hope I don't come back there too many times, because I was just there a few months ago. But I'm really looking forward to it.
Mb: Well the last time you were here you played a 500 seater. This time, the festival draws from 3000-7000 people. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised at the turn out for you.
Ron: Ya, I've heard good things about it! Search for ron sexsmith

Interview: Eternia

by Michael Bell

(2008) Juno-nominated and widely considered one of Canada's foremost lyricists, Eternia continues to carry the torch for those Hip Hop aficionados who crave... s' More..
With six music video singles on international rotation, and two critically acclaimed full-lengths released in 2005 – “Where I Been – The Collection” & “It’s Called Life” (Urbnet Records) – Canada’s “best kept secret” has paid good dues and is ready to prove it..
Eternia has toured extensively in Canada, the U.S., Australia, and most recently Europe; those that are lucky enough to catch her live credit her as one of the best live performers they have witnessed. It is Eternia’s ability to convey her personality and life experiences fluidly through her rhymes (in addition to the ease with which she can annihilate people lyrically) that has kept those in the know checking for her for over a decade..
Eternia’s newest addition to her growing discography, “Where I’m At – The Setup”, boasts an impressive roster of producers and featured artists that believe in this hard-hitting femme-fatale. I spoke with Eternia by phone moments before she was to fly off to her next gig. We talked about the past, the present and the her future....

Mb: So tell me about yourself. What possessed you to become a musician?
E: It’s nothing that really possessed me, its something that just naturally happens when you're in a musical family. I was writing song lyrics and poems since the age of ten so it was a progression. It wasn’t really a definitive choice.
Mb: What kind of music did you grow up listening to?
E: All different types, to be honest with you. My mother originally liked stuff like Carole King and Kenny Rogers and my father listen to everything. He played the congas. They were both musicians. She played the piano, royal conservatory, he played the hand drums. She led the church choir at my Baptist church when I was growing up and then my brother was the one that got me into Hip Hop. So around late 80's my brother brought home hip hop and the rest is history. It’s kinda how it happened.
Mb: And what was it about Hip Hop that you liked?
E: I was a kid and first of all, more than anything, it was cool cause my brother thought it was cool. He was my older brother, he is two years older than me, so he was like ... God! What he said was cool, was! On top of it, I was always kinda loud... theatrical... wordy... I always talked fast, so when I started rapping my mother didn't even find it strange. She was like "Wouldn't it just make sense? My daughter that talks a mile a minute is now rapping a mile a minute." It suited me. I was a writer first and foremost. Obviously I wouldn't know any of this at the time when I was 10 years old, but Hip Hop is very lyrical and so it really lends to someone who places emphasis on words more than anything else. To a lot of people who aren't really involved in Hip Hop, they find it not that musical? It IS musical! But definitely there’s a focus on the content that attracted it to me too.
Mb: And what is it you like to convey to people through your words?
E: That's a good question. I call myself a life artist. I'm a literalist, I'm a journalist and I'm a life artist. Anything I go through or I'm struggling with I write about. So that's the literalist perspective. I'm not really imaginative. I don't make up stories. They are all true to life whether it be family stuff or financial burdens to a grander scale of how we place in the bigger picture. It’s all from my eyes, from my perspective. I'm female born and raised in Canada, so it’s across the board. I'm a sociology minor at university so my music was going that way before I was studying, so its kind of a little sociology experiment. (laughs)
Mb: So how do you think we... you fit into the world?
E: It’s funny because in school we learn how class, race, gender, nationality, all that, impacts who we are as a person and how we function as a person and the tools we are born with... or if not born with, socialized with? I believe in all that but I also believe that we can manifest what ever it is that we want to create for ourselves. So I believe in breaking the stereotypes.
Mb: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
E: I'm always open to whatever happens. Before it used to be "Ok, I want to be a big Rap superstar." But in the last year its changed. Now, I want to go back to school. I want to get my masters. I'm interested in getting my PhD. I want to write. I might want to teach. I want to speak on everything I've learnt from the music industry and from being an artist but more about, I guess you could say, the altruistic, non profit sector. For example, I’m about to go on a girl's rights tour, its called "Girl's Rights are Human Rights Too" and for me rapping in front of a bunch of kids in a highschool about girl's rights is 10 times more fulfilling than a lot of other musical related stuff I've done. I found, happiness in myself is not defined by my success in the music industry, it’s completely outside myself and that's a beautiful thing.
Mb: I suppose with a life as a musician you're well on your way to understanding a life of "not-for-profit"!
E: (laughs) Ya, starving artist and non profit sector is a natural transition.
Mb: Tell me about touring Europe? How was that?
E: Oh dude, touring Europe is always awesome, but this 3rd time was the best. It was an all female tour which is unheard of. Its the kind of tour that's never been done in Canada or the U.S., that I'm aware of. It was with Bahamadia one the foremost DJ’s of the 90's, Roxanne Shante the foremost DJ of the 80's and then myself and some of the newer breed DJ’s, so that was really empowering... and we got along! It wasn't like some catty bitch fight, it was the exact opposite. We put on really strong shows, and I've toured with dudes and I can honestly say we could hold our own. I mean that's a given and I really shouldn't have to say that in an interview but we could definitely hold our own! It was awesome.
Mb: So where are you off to this weekend?
E: I'm flying to Ottawa, then we go to Montreal and then Toronto. For two weeks were basically hitting 20 something high schools, 2 schools a day for 10 days. It’s pretty cool. It’s a whole presentation on girl's rights around the world because gender inequality is still a fact whether it’s in Canada, Sudan or China. We're talking about it globally and then bringing it back home to kids in high school here. Its exciting.
Mb: So what do you want to leave our readers with? What's your final comment?
E: Come to the show.. damn it! (laugh) I never assume everyone knows who I am, so if you don't know and you come to the show and you’re not even a listener of hip hop normally, you will love the show. What ever stereotype you have, it will be shattered! Search for Eternia

Interview: Michelle Wright

(2008) I first met Michelle in the early 90’s just after the release of her self titled debut album. Back then, few knew who she was. Well times certainly have changed. Since those days she has released 7 more albums, including a Greatest Hits, written an autobiography “ A Year In The Life: The Journals of Michelle Wright”, recorded with country legend Patsy Cline, received countless music awards including 2 CCMA's Fans' Choice Entertainer Of The Year awards, sold close to 2 million albums, performed on every continent in the world, all the while maintaining a down to earth humanistic outlook and lending her talents to such causes as World Vision and many more. With the release of her latest CD “Everything and More”, Michelle is getting herself ready for a full on assault of the European market in 2009, but not until she makes a number of stops in Ontario this month to sing some favourites and spread some Christmas cheer. I spoke to her by phone from her home in Nashville...

Mb: Hi Michelle, how are things?
Michelle Wright: All is well! We're all looking forward to getting this tour together. I've been getting some cool emails from my band mates saying "All right... we're ready!" Mind you, we haven't even started rehearsal yet, so we'll see how they feel after some 10 hour rehearsals. (laughs)
Mb: Now, this isn't the first Christmas tour...
Michelle Wright: This will be our 5th year. We have had some real fun with it. We just started out… we did 7 dates in Ontario our first year and then we've taken it across the country. Finally now we have it into regions which I'm very happy about because a few years ago we went from Newfoundland to Vancouver and that was quite a grind in that amount of time.... flying and busing and vans and ridiculous travel to try to get to all the gigs on time.
Mb: This time it looks like a lot of Ontario.
Michelle Wright: It is all Ontario, so I'm very happy. That was one of the goals that I requested. After doing the tour for a couple of years I said "Ok guys, if it's at all possible let's see if we can do this regionally every year."
Mb: So, do you like Christmas?
Michelle Wright: Love it, love it… love it all. Love everything about it.
Mb: So you're a real Christmas junkie...
Michelle Wright: Ya, I think I'm kind of a family home person, so I love all the things that go around those kinds of holidays. We're also a faith based home as well so it's kind of a special time for us in our home... you know?
Mb: So what's your favourite Christmas song to sing?
Michelle Wright: That's a little difficult to say. I love the arrangement we did on "Joy to the World" on this Christmas record. It's very challenging for me, so I look forward to singing it every night. So that would be one I'd think of. And then my friend Patricia Conroy, who's a great Canadian songwriter and just a lovely human being, wrote a Canadian original on the record which I love, a song called "I Know Santa's Been Here" which is just cute and fun and it's got a Texas swing vibe about it that I really like.
Mb: So this new record is your first record in 10 years.
Michelle Wright: It's my first country record in 10 years. I did a Pop record with Wyndham Hill out of Los Angeles and in 2000 we released a Greatest Hits album that I worked, for a couple of years and toured and then I signed the deal with Wyndham Hill and wrote that wonderful record. That was one of the greatest times in my career. I wrote in Los Angeles and New York and Toronto and Nashville and traveled everywhere and wrote with these wonderful writers and really co-wrote most of that record. I worked that for a couple of years and then decided to do a country record again with a producer, a great producer, but he and I weren't connecting musically. We spent about a year together working, and then realized "Hmmmm. We don't seem to be on the same page." So we decided to go our separate ways and I started working with the guys that ended up producing this record.
Mb: What possessed you to make a Pop record?
Michelle Wright: Well, I knew my record deal with Arista was coming to an end. I'm an artist, but I'm also someone who pays attention? (laughs) You can stick your head in the sand if you want or you can go "Hmm, I'm not selling as many records for this label as I used to. I wonder how they're feeling." (laughs) So when I saw that writing on the wall... I really didn't know what was going to happen. I was like "Well? I wonder if there's record deal for me." I got a phone call... Jim Brickman, who was with Wyndham Hill, he and I put a single out called "Your Love" that was pretty big hit for us in Canada and also a top 15 AC hit in America, so with the success of that single, they offered me a record deal. I thought, “That's nice! You don't get those everyday, I think I'll take it!" So they said "Go make the record you want to make", which was also very cool. It really was a combination of Pop and AC and Country and R&B... I got some support here in Canada and some in America... it didn't set the charts on fire but it was a great opportunity for me and sustained the career.
Mb: And an opportunity to reinvent yourself?
Michelle Wright: It was an interesting thing. It was really just an extension... my mother was country singer. She had one radio station and no TV and therefore her influences were so limited...but me…. and this generation, it's unbelievable
what their influences are, and the skill that we're seeing coming out of the new generations, cause they start so young being exposed to such a diverse number of artists. So the Pop record I did was one way of reinventing myself, but kind of an extension of what I've been doing. If you listen to that record and then my country record, it's not like it's that different. I guess I'm a contemporary cross over artist. It was a great opportunity and I'm glad I had a chance to do it.
Mb: Did you want to play drums on it?
Michelle Wright: I didn't! But it's funny you mention that because I've been thinking about getting behind the drums again... we'll see. My husband just said "Thata girl!" (laughs) My husband's brother plays in a band and they were just here and we had a fun weekend and he's the drummer with that band… and he's so good.
Mb: And you haven't been practicing?
Michelle Wright: And I have NOT been practicing… not for years! But you know what? And I mean this in a "for one song kinda thing", it's not like it's too foreign a thing cause I do get behind the kit once or twice at every rehearsal.
Mb: Until they tell you to stop?
MW: (laughs) Ya, cause I kinda only know one song. I think it's Honky Tonk Woman. (laughs)
Mb: To change things up a bit, I want to talk with you about your trip to Afghanistan and the other trip to Zambia with World Vision. What made you do that?
Michelle Wright: Well, you know… people calling me and asking me if I'd like to? That's where it starts and then choosing to do it and thankful that I have. As you can imagine, those kind of experiences not a lot of people get in their life time. I did it and they were amazing and both experiences altered my life and altered my point of view. It's actually altered everybody in the organization. When we tour now I bring out a World Vision representative and we set them up in the lobby and tell people "You want? There it is! Sponsor a kid tonight" So every night we change at least one kid's life, some times 10 or 20.
Mb: And do you sponsor?
Michelle Wright: Oh yes, we have two families actually. My husband has actually built both of the family's homes. When I told him the story about the suffering for these families it really affected him, so he got on board. So that's a fascinating thing to think you can use your life and your career to help people. It seems insurmountable, but for that family or that child who is getting fed today, they're not thinking about much, other than "I feel good today because I've got some food in my stomach." And then the Afghanistan situation was just really... you can't imagine it until you just go. The most amazing thing that I walked away from that with was, I was so impressed with our Military, these guys and gals with their focus and their disciple. They're a force to be reckoned with.
Mb: So what other aspirations does Michelle Wright have?
Michelle Wright: It's always been the same. My desire to sing and play and be on the bus with the band...
Mb: No hobbies? You don't want to sit home and do puzzles? Become the puzzle champion of the world?
Michelle Wright: Well, I love my home life. I'm a homebody and we have a very cozy place here...but one of things I'm excited about is, we've released in Europe again, which I haven't done since about '97 or so. We've got some dates booked, music being released and distributed and doing it up the right way. We're going to try to book about 20 dates a year over there. My husband's going to come and travel a bit with me, cause he's never really done much of that... you know? Travel and play music that's what I love to do and I'm looking forward to writing the next record.
Mb: How will the next record come? What are you thinking?
Michelle Wright: You know, maybe this isn't such a new idea, but I'd like to combine country and Motown. That's what I'm writing and trying to do, so we will see. I have one song I've written so far that has that vibe. What is that vibe? That's the question. I'm curious to see... I hear the bass part and I hear the rhythm part and then I think.... I just don't know yet.
Mb: Are you working on your James Brown spins?
Michelle Wright: (laughs) That's funny. Actually the cape thing is what I need.
Mb: So what do you want to leave our readers with? Come to the show and.....
Michelle Wright: This Christmas show is really a special night out. I almost thought "This Christmas stuff isn't hip enough", but I love it. I'm surprised at how much I love it and I think it's because we've created a musical journey throughout the evening from country to the Christmas record that has everything from Reggae to R&B to Pop to Texas Swing to.. I think it's an interesting night of music. And it's the vibe we create, as well. We have all the modern technology... video wall... flat screen video on the stage and all those kind of modern technologies as well as your basic Winter Wonderland with the decorations. I just want to tell everyone that it's just a fun night out of music and Christmas. It's great for families... we are a family friendly band. (laughs) You're cheeks will be sore from smiling so much! Search for Michelle Wright

Interview: Jim Cuddy

by Michael Bell

(2009) Blue Rodeo’s Jim Cuddy has earned his place in the list of Canada’s musical elite. With one of the genre’s most recognizable voices and song writing styles, he’s been drawing in new listeners while keeping the old for some 20 years. In 1999 he released his first solo album “All In Time” and followed it up in 2006 with “The Light That Guides You Home”. I’ve had a chance to speak with Jim a number of times over the years, from the earliest days when “Try” took off, to the more edgier ones to follow. Always a gentleman and pleasure to interview, I spoke with Jim from his home on snow winter day...

JC: You guys getting all this snow?
Mb: Yes, we got snow? You get snow?
JC: We're still getting lots.
Mb: You in Toronto?
JC: Ya, downtown. It's quite something.
Mb: Well I guess, 3 or 4 in a season isn't such a big deal.
JC: No it's great! It's good to have winter.
Mb: So you like it?
JC: I do! Living in Toronto you get a lot of half way weather. You get sort of winter and then it melts and it's ugly and it's sort of cold. It's nice when it sort of defines itself that "Yes, this is winter... deal with it". It's good.
Mb: And you get out there with the shovel and...
JC: I get out there with the shovel. I don't have a huge walk-way or drive way, so it's not so bad. And we get out of the city. We have a little farm north of the city. It's in the snow belt, so it's going to be good.
Mb: So you're back in Peterborough next month. You must enjoy playing up here you've played it so many times and tend to sell it out every time!
JC: It's a good place for us to play. It's close enough to Toronto that you can go there and back in the same night, and that's nice. We're very familiar with the area. Greg lives up around there. We see people we know and it's a good area. I'm just trying to get a couple of gigs... I play Massey Hall on the Saturday night... I just wanted to have a little week's run of gigs. It's nice if I'm going to get my band together to have a few things to do, because sometimes it's frustrating just having the one thing. So, we're going to do Peterborough, we're going to do Ottawa and then come back and do Toronto.
Mb: So why go solo? Is it just to break off from the everyday?
JC: Just to augment the experience of being in a band. I mean, it's great to be in Blue Rodeo and that's obviously my main focus, but I play with a whole other group of people. I mean, Basil's in the band as well but the other people I've played with, Anne Lindsay and Colin Cripps, I've played with them now for 10 years. So it's just like playing with other friends and I don't have to rely on my band to make my living or career, I can do it for fun and I can take things that Blue Rodeo probably wouldn't take. It just provides me with an outlet that's relaxing. I like to play music and I also feel like... you've got a set number of years to do this and I want to take advantage of it.
Mb: And when you say "Take things Blue Rodeo wouldn't take", you mean gigs?
JC: Ya. I mean, I opened for Sheryl Crow this summer. I don't think Blue Rodeo would have taken that gig, because we're playing all the same places she plays. So those are the kind of things that are a bit more for a 'wash and wear" band and Blue Rodeo is more of a "tuxedo".
Mb: So tell me about the Sheryl Crow tour.
JC: It was great. We went across Canada, Montreal to Victoria. I did it the summer before with John Fogerty, so I got used to the 45 minute slot. When we play mostly in Canada I know most of the people in the building so it's like old home week. Everyone sees each other again. She was great. She was really good to us. Got to know them all, It was a very friendly tour. It's great cause it's not like working. I don't want to keep coming back to this recreational part of it but, you play 45 minutes and you're done by 8 o'clock and to me that's not like working. Normally I wouldn't even have started work by then. It's just relaxing. It's good for the voice. It's good for the band. Everyone has fun and makes their new friends. Good for morale.
Mb: Pressure is off too...
JC: Totally. I mean not entirely, because you have to do well. A 45 minute slot takes some re-engineering. You have to really go fast.. your dynamic has to be very steep. I'm used to a 2 hour set where you get to places more slowly, so in 45 minutes it's a whole different energy.
Mb: I suppose in 45 you get to pull out all the hits, and the whole set is going to be strong.
JC: Everything’s a hit Michael! (laughs)
Mb: Speaking out hits. I'm sure you've been asked so many times but, what's your favourite Blue Rodeo hit. What's the one that will live, in your mind, forever.
JC: (laughs) I guess we probably wouldn't have had a career if it wasn't for "Try". That was the one. When all that happened we were so naive that we didn't realize it was happening. We didn't realize that if you had a top 5 hit on all the AM stations, it was changing your life. We just thought it was kind of a joke. Like, what were we doing on CFTR. That didn't seem right. So I guess just in terms of its influence on my life, "Try" would be the one. I still think audiences feel like it's a challenge for me to sing. I think they feel like I'm too old to sing that. So now when I sing it, I recognize they’re holding their breathe to see if I can get up to those high notes. (laughs) And I'm always glad to deliver.
Mb: So I guess it's easy for audiences to accept you as a solo artist. The sound is very reminiscent of the Blue Rodeo sound. You didn't really step out and become a heavy metal band or... you stayed the genre.
JC: I don't find myself restricted in Blue Rodeo. The parameters of Blue Rodeo are pretty broad. We can do rock and roll, we can do jazzy stuff, we can do country, so those parameters are naturally what I write in. I don't have any hidden desires that can't be satisfied in Blue Rodeo. So really, I write like I write. I think the differences are more subtle. It's a little bit more personal in my band and certainly the instrumentation is different... with the violin, different kind of guitar playing and certainly different sound of the voices... and I am the central feature in every song which is very different than Blue Rodeo where there's a tandem and different styles from the two writers. So I agree, it was never part of my intention to do something I was finally getting a chance to do. I just couldn't do Blue Rodeo and that's just the way it was. I'm sure to some people it's a relief and to some people a disappointment.
Mb: How about a road story? Have any good ones of late, being out there on your own? I'm sure traveling with Blue Rodeo for so long it was all very comfortable and now... different expectations from audiences... from promoters...
JC: It's been pretty good that way because a band that doesn't play a lot is very well behaved.. very considerate of each other. The problems occur more when a band has traveled together for 20 years and is doing it relentlessly. That's where people blow their top every so often. But no, not any good road stories. It's funny, if I sat around with a bunch of people who had road stories, I could think of a million things. If a journalist asks me for a road story, I can't think of one single thing. I don't know why my mind blanks out. Maybe it's a member's code, we're not suppose to be telling these stories.
Mb: It's probably the prompting from other artists...
JC: Of course! We do have so many similar experiences. Same dickhead manager at a theatre or arena or the food in some place...
Mb: What about a new record? This one is a couple of years old...
JC: Ya, this is our winter to be making a record, so Greg and I are going to be getting together this month and we're going to be working stuff out and I guess we'll start recording next month. Our cycle is kinda like every second fall, so this fall we'll have a record out and then start touring next winter. We have this winter and spring to get our record together. We've already laid the groundwork. We know what we're doing and the type of record and where we're doing it. That's always the beginning of the evolution of a record. What style, where we going to do it...
Mb: And what style is it going to be?
JC: I think it's going to be a bit more of a Jim and Greg record. I think that we're going to work together for a little while before we bring in the band and that always marries the songs a little more. We're going to do some of it out at Greg's and that is a very rudimentary studio. That will determine a certain sound of his songs that he wants... very rough edges and then we'll put it all together in our own studio. So that means it will be the 401 record. Driving back and forth on the 401.
Mb: With Basil and Bob Packwood on your solo album, I can't help but think that you guys were slipping away during Blue Rodeo gigs and working on your own stuff!
JC: (laughs) No, it's very easy to keep it separate. There's really no cross over. the only cross over is I do a couple of Blue Rodeo songs in my own show. Other than that... I never do my own songs with Blue Rodeo and I really keep all the work separate... completely separate. I'm usually working on my band when Blue Rodeo is taking a break. I want to work more than the members of Blue Rodeo, so I fill the breaks with work.
Mb: Is that what prompted the solo career? I mean, Blue Rodeo is so successful I imagine they’re just picking the gigs you want...
JC: No! Back then, 10 years ago, it was bit more survival. 10 years ago I think there was a level of dissatisfaction in the band that was getting critical. I think people's departures were kind of frightening, whether they'd come back. I didn't really have my mind set to do a solo record, I was happy doing the group thing. But once Greg went and did his record, I just wasn't sure of his state of mind. I wasn't sure whether he'd ever come back. So I thought, well I'd better protect myself and see what I can do. Then it became something totally different. Then it became something that was enjoyable and had nothing to do with trying to protect my life or trying to show Blue Rodeo I could do it. And then it was easy. Everyone in the band has made records, numerous records. Then it just becomes everyone's side line is of interest to everybody. If they can help play on each other's records no problem. So then it just became a very healthy outlet. When you've been a band a long time and everyone relying on each other 100%, and 100% of the time, it's just a little too much pressure and once you just spread it out a little bit everyone just starts acting a little more normally. i think it's a very good thing for a band. I highly recommend it.
Mb: So what else is going on in life, beside the music. I don't know if you remember the last time we spoke. I interviewed you back in the late 90's and asked you what your favourite colour was... you wouldn't tell me!
JC: (laughs) I remember. It sounded like you were getting bored and just wanted another question. Other things I do... well, I have a family and that's a huge focus. I have two kids in university and one in the later stages of high school, so my wife and I are starting to do a little bit of travel and I play a little hockey and...... I'm still not going to tell you my favourite colour! (laughs)
Mb: You're being pretty evasive. It isn't pink is it?
JC: You'll still want to interview me 9 years from now.
Mb: And I'll still ask you that question..
JC: "God damn it, tell me!"
Mb: Ok, what if you were a pizza, what kind of pizza would you be?
JC: (laughs) I tend towards more of a classic. My tastes tend to go more toward the classic pizza. Maybe with pepperoni, but I think just the cheese pizza. Just go straight. Nothing to it. I think that's the most difficult.
Mb: I get the feeling you like to play safe.
JC: No, not particularly. I do a lot of cooking and I'm not a very safe cook. But I do think the most difficult things are often the most simple. You load some shit up on there and you can fool everyone into thinking the basis of that pizza is good. It's like a song. Sometimes you can load up a lot of arrangement and instrumentation, but if the song’s not solid... if you don't have that cheese pizza under there, it's not going to happen. Search for jim cuddy

Interview: Jill Barber

If you believe they don’t write songs like they used to, here is new hope for old romantics. On her new album Chances, Canadian chanteuse Jill Barber picks up the torch where the golden age of music left off. Stepping away from her folkier past, Jill delivers an album of ten original, fully orchestrated songs that strongly evoke – and could themselves become -the classics. From the moment you hear her sultry voice on the opening title track, you are transported to another time and place. A seasoned performer with a growing fan base across North America and the UK, Jill gained acclaim as a 2008 double-Juno nominee and multiple East Coast Music Award winner for previous releases For All Time (2006) and Oh Heart (2004). In February 2008, Jill was given the extraordinary chance to perform in concert with Symphony Nova Scotia as part of its Pops Series. The results evoked the rich sounds of Patsy Cline, Edith Piaf and Etta James. It was clear that Jill, previously a self-proclaimed “smoky folkie”, had reached a new level. I spoke with Jill by phone as she recuperated from her trip down under and begins organizing the last leg of her Canadian tour...

Mb: Hi Jill.
JB: Hi!
Mb: I heard you just got back from Australia!
JB: I did. It was amazing. I was there for 5 weeks on tour and I'd never been to Australia before. It was a lot of fun. A totally new country and I played a lot of dates within that time. I did some festivals and it was really an incredible experience. I'm going to go back soon!
Mb: Where were you?
JB: We toured up and down the east coast, Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide... and we went to Tasmania.
Mb: There's an incredible music scene in Melbourne. I spent about a year and a half there recently.
JB: That was one of my only regrets. We only did one show in Melbourne. We arrived that day and had to leave early the next morning so we didn't spend too much time in Melbourne. But I kept hearing from musicians in Australia that, that's the music capital. Next time I'll have to spend some more time there. I've really fallen in love with that country. The people are amazing and it's a really interesting place. It has a lot of cross over with Canada but it's still distinct. I really love Australia.
Mb: Well, you're back and touring around Ontario...
JB: Ya!, My record came out in October and I wanted to do a full cross Canada theatre tour. I had to do it in three parts. I did the first part on the East Coast and the second part on the West Coast and this is now the last, and final leg of the cross Canada tour, in Ontario and Quebec. I'm really pleased I'm making it back to Peterborough. I've played there only once before, which I have a hard time believing becaase I've done a lot of touring, but for some reason.... actually that's not entirely true I have played Peterborough a few times, but they weren't the greatest dates. But the last time I was there I had an amazing time. I don't know, maybe I was just blocking them out. I think I played in the wrong venues... but the last time I played the Folk Under the Clock and it was an amazing show.
Mb: It must be challenging to find the right venues for your style of music.
JB: I feel I've found a really comfortable niche musically and definitely now the challenge is to find the venues in which to do the shows. I definitely think soft seat theatres as opposed to shitty rock clubs!? I hear Showplace is nice...
Mb: It is... it's a sit and listen.
JB: Ya, and that's what it needs to be. Between small theatres and churches across the country I been finding some really nice rooms to play in and it's been making a big difference. I've really been enjoying this tour and I'm also doing this tour with a full band for the first time. So in order to fully appreciate my band, a sit down venue is perfect.
Mb: So as a young performer, what has driven you to sing and write this style of music. Did you grow up listening to 50's torch songs with your parents?
JB: I did listen to jazz growing up, but dinner jazz. My parents would listen to Ella Fitzgerald on the stereo so I new all the old standards from a pretty early age. I was also really obsessed with musicals as a kid. I loved Andrew Lloyd Weber and that sense of drama, I've always loved that. Then of course as a teenager I rejected all that and totally got into rock music, especially Canadian indie rock and that's where I really fell in love with live music. That's the time I decided I wanted to be on stage playing songs that I'd written. I started writing as a teenager, but as I got into my 20's I went back to.... I got a record player and I would buy old jazz records and listen to Nat King Cole on vinyl. Even further back... I found an old 78 record player in an antique shop a couple of years ago and I started collecting 78's, a lot of really obscure older music. I suppose I account for my love of that music... I don't know... it's very romantic. There's something really magical about old music and I'm fascinated by these old standards and how they've stood the test of time. You can walk into a Starbucks today and hear Ella Fitzgerald or Billy Holiday or Frank Sinatra..
Mb: Or Michael Buble...
JB: Ya, he's the second generation... well I guess I am too. We're contemporary musicians. He's singing the old songs. What I'm trying to do is write new standards, if that's not too bold a statement to make. I'm trying to write new songs that will hopefully have some staying power.
Mb: And speaking of staying power, you wrote some songs with Ron Sexsmith.
JB: Yes I did. That was an amazing experience. We wrote a number of songs together and three of them are on the album. I'd never co-written before, so writing with him was sort of a dream come true. He's a romantic too so we were both in the same head-space.
Mb: Ya I can imagine sitting the same room watching you two write would be a pretty "gooey" experience!
JB: (laughs) Ya, you wouldn't want to be in the room... but for the people in the room doing it, it was a lot of fun. We laughed a lot. Neither of us are too concerned with being too sentimental. I think because we both really believe it. It's from the heart, at the risk of saying something too cliche.
Mb: Ron actually said that very thing to me a few months ago. That it was his natural way of writing songs.
JB: Ya. He said that?
Mb: So what about the rest of your life. What else do you like to do? Are you a closet gamer or..?
JB: I'm a Scrabble addict! Luckily I have reliable Scrabble players. I do a lot of traveling and I have a travel Scrabble that comes with me everywhere. Ya, I like Scrabble... and the rest of my life is music.
Mb: So music it is and you'll be in Peterborough and....
JB: I'm really looking forward to this tour. I'm playing with the most amazing band. I did the Australian tour solo, so I can't wait to get back with the band... and I'm really looking forward to being back in Peterborough. You're my kind of people! Search for jill barber

Interview: Matthew Good

Canada's bad boy of pop, Matthew Good burst onto the scene full of angst and hit tunes. I talked with Matthew while he listened to a bunch of demos...

Mb: So, what are you doing today Matthew? 
MG: Listening to demos.
Mb: ...and how are they sounding to you? 
MG: Well, it's just me and my guitar, in my apartment. I basically have 15 or 16 songs, that I've got to run through with Dave Genn, and he's on his way over in a little while, so we'll start going through them.
Mb: This is all new material? 
MG: Yeah, the next record is already written.
Mb: When is it coming? 
MG: I don't know. I think that maybe it's slated for a early summer release next year...maybe...hopefully. I don't know. It's like, you tour long enough and you play songs long enough and there comes definitely a point where you definitely want to get back into the studio and do something new.
Mb: So have you been out doing a lot of live? 
MG: Yeah, I think for the 12 months this record's been out, we've been on the road 7 or 8 months of it.
Mb: Playing a lot of dates back to back? 
MG: No, I kinda have a "3 on" rule. I don't like to do three shows in a row. I was one of those people who was cursed with a voice that's kind of touchy. I don't like to mess around with it too much, though on the tour we've got coming up in September we've got 5 in a row and 7 in a row so....
Mb: The bigger you get the busier you become. 
MG: No man, it's suppose to be "The bigger you get the more control you have over the situation." Isn't that suppose to be it?
Mb: That's just what they tell you to get you tied in. 
MG: I've done my 13 show in a row vibe already man.
Mb: So where have most of the dates been, Canada? 
MG: Yeah.
Mb: Any plans to travel? 
MG: I think we'll be going to Australia in the winter. That's the plan anyway.
Mb: Have you ever played there? It's suppose to be very cool. 
MG: Yeah, I have friends that live there and it's very comparable, as far as a market is concerned. They're pretty big metal heads down there too. They love their metal. Our sound man does sound for a band called Strapping Young Lads and their huge down there.
Mb: ...and it's heavy heavy? 
MG: Oh yeah. There second last record was called Heavy is a Really Heavy Thing. Oh yes, it's metal. Make no mistake about it, with a capital M.
Mb: So you are in Peterborough on the that part of a cross country thing? 
MG: Well, we're coming out to do a a seems we're always out there now, doesn't it? Getting kind of sickening isn't it?
Mb: Lots of people here in Ontario buying your records so it's a good place to be. Where do you like playing? 
MG: My favorite city? So far, I love playing in Ottawa. The band caught on really early, like years ago there. We have a hard core following there. And, I love playing at home. I'd be lying to you if I didn't say I love doing that. Anywhere in B.C. I just like playing anywhere.
Mb: Anywhere they like you... 
MG: Well, even places they don't.
Mb: Do tell... 
MG: I don't know, I've been in situations where you're opening for a band where you're nothing like what they do. Especially in this country, it means you're hooked up with some band that is a real beer drinking lugan...and you go and you open it and people are just looking at you going "Get off...shut up!" It would be like Radiohead opening up for ACDC. Everyone would be like "Get out of here you pussy." So, those are always interesting.
Mb: I suppose with your folk background, you know how to play it down if need be? 
MG: We're a loud band, that's for damn sure. We don't necessarily just lay out those four four classics. We have specials suprises for people in those situations...It doesn't happen so much anymore, but back in the old days, when we were playing 4 or 5 years ago, we're playing on stages where there's a stripper pool in the middle of the stage and you're in some bar and it's like all Hell's Angels, which actually in B.C. has never been a problem, a lot of them come to our shows, but you're just like sitting there...I'm from the suburbs of a're up in some place and it's some freakish scene out of some strange 70s biker movie.
Mb: All in all, I bet you couldn't be happier about your career. 
MG: I can't complain. I don't get up and go to work at 9:00. Everything in life comes with its own stresses. The interesting thing about humans is that they have self induced stress. I don't think anyone really gets stressed because they were a really relaxed person and circumstances dictate that "Hey, be stressed" unless you're pushing the button or turning the key in a nuclear silo, then you've got some pressure on you. Or, you're the goaltender for the Montreal Canadians, or currently right now, if you're any team member of the Vancouver Canuks. (laughs) Everyone has pressure. It can get pretty stressful some times. Yesterday was just a stressful day...we played... got on a was delayed for a hour and a half...we flew to Calgary, it was delayed again...we got home at one in the gets long. I wouldn't say stressful...I'd say long, long is the word. But other than that, yeah man, I'm having a good time.
Mb: Beyond making records, any other dreams come true? 
MG: You mean like ménage et trois, and shit?
Mb: Or, meet anyone you idolized since birth, that sort of thing? 
MG: Yeah, Pete Townsend and the Who. We played with the Who a couple of years ago. That's a fucking wicked band. That was excellent. There's a lot of cool people. Yesterday I was talking with Tony the lead singer from Fastball and he's a really cool dude too. It's usually a rarity you run into somebody who's so much of a prick that you're like walking away. The problem with being a prick in rock is that you've got to remember who you were a prick've got to keep a list, `cause if you were a prick to somebody then you've got to go back and be a prick to them again, you can't be nice to them again. Being a prick...that's just a big waste of time...
Mb: So, what else.... 
MG: We played in Regina yesterday. Big festival with Fastball, Headstones, Moist, New Meanies...
Mb: How did that go? 
MG: They made the big mistake of ...all the bands were staying in the same hotel and in the hotel there's this club... and they made this big mistake of giving all the bands free drink wristbands for the club the night before. Everyone ties on this wicked pisser. No one can move the next morning at all... You got to love this town though. They seem to think it's a really big deal to have waterslides in all their hotels. We were staying at this hotel and it had a waterslide in it, and across the street there's like this Travel Lodge and bigger than the Travel Lodge sign is "Waterslide". You've got to love that man. I think I'm just going to quit music and open a chain of hotels that have rollercoasters. Theme park hotels all over the nation.
Mb: People love that stuff. 
MG: I love that. I could live in Disneyworld myself. Adventureland, New Orleans Square...I could just set up there. You ever been there?
Mb: Yeah, but I'm not sure I remember... 
MG: Well, you know where the Swiss Family Robinson tree is? It's right around there. I love the place man. It's the happiest place on earth. They're redoing Tommorrowland because last time I was there tomorrow land was Yesterdayland.
Mb: You should play there. 
MG: You know what, that's funny that you say that. I know somebody that went there with their school band and played. Now that's a gig. Wouldn't that be sweet?
Mb: They must have a place you could play. 
MG: I don't think they do rock. I mean, Tiffany could go in there and rock...
Mb: They could dress you up as the Canadian... 
MG: If I could wear the Goofy costume and lay down some metal that would be so right. We could do like Motorhead covers and then leave. But it's like all C.I.A. and shit like that there too. If you walk in the front gates there's like dudes checking everyone out and they're looking in your bags and they're all dressed in overcoats...
Mb: Well Peterborough's no Disneyland, but no one will check your bags and you can read this interview while you're here. 
MG: Cool, just make up a whole bunch of shit about me man, that's cool. Someone asked me the other day how did the band meet? I told them we were all on a flight leaving Tel Aviv in 1984, and we were hijacked to Cyprus and we all just happened to have small arms in our carry on baggage and we took the plane back. So besides being superstars and heroes in Cyprus we formed the band. We also found out we were all musicians. That was a spur of the moment thing that didn't work out too well!! Search for matthew good

Interview: Chantal Kreviazuk

(2009) A true renaissance woman, Chantal Kreviazuk is a singer, songwriter, actor, model and humanitarian. Since her humble beginnings in Winnepeg to headlining stages around the world, the things that are important to her haven’t left her focus for a moment. She's had top selling albums and has penned songs with tghe likes of Avril Lavigne, Kelly Clarkson and Gwen Stefani. Married to “Our Lady Peace” frontman Raine Maida, she continues to juggle family life and her career with an emphasis on family first and industry second. (Something I was to learn first hand as my interview was bumped twice due to a sick child). I spoke with Chantel from her home about family, songwriting and dancing in front of the mirror....

Mb: You know Chantel, my first question was going to be "How does family life and the music business mix?" But, I think I now know!
CK: (laughs) Here's how it mixes (calls to her daughter) "Heather can you shut the door? I'm doing an interview." So, that’s how it effects things. There's always action. They're number one and that's it. They encompass everything. Our studio is at home so the door's open... most of the artists we work with are cool with that, but some of them have not been. (laughs) I sort of feel like, when it comes to kids, I had my chance. I was a child and I was given a wonderful childhood and now it's their turn. I think they deserve to get every bit of love and attention and they get it. Sometimes it compromises my vocation but I think it's wonderful.
Mb: How do they like growing up in a rock and roll household?
CK: Oh my God. Again, the word 'encompass" comes to mind. I think it's actually defining who they are now. They enjoy singing and dancing. They're already getting comfortable at instruments. I don't know if they even know anything otherwise, other than you write songs and you express yourselves and you play music. That's kind of who they are.
Mb: So they haven't figured out that you sleep in buses in northern Ontario and eat too much fast food...
CK: Well, they've figured out the bus part, but they think that's a party and love it. I don't think they realize the amount of work it is bringing them on the road or living on the road as an adult, but as a child, from their perspective, it's pretty fab! I don't know if they know you get fat on the bus just yet, but they are enjoying some great catering!
Mb: So how's this new record coming?
CK: I can finally say "fantastic". Because we've been working on so many other projects in between our own solo projects and Raine's band, it takes awhile to recognize when you're in fifth gear and all of a sudden you go "Oh my god, my record's closed out. It's done! I just have to do some "i" dotting and "t" crossing and my records done.” I just have to do some odds and ends and then we're moving into the mix next week.
Mb: And how do you feel about it? Is it going to be different from the last record?
CK: It's different from the last record. It's different from any other record I've made, definitely. It's interesting because it takes more risks on the one hand because it's simpler and more “poppier” than ever, in some areas, and then it takes more risks creatively in others. It is a bit more focused. Part of the album has a lot of jazz influence to it, which is just kind of inside of me. Even if you listen to my earlier stuff you'll hear some of that. There's some blatant homages to the jazz genre and it's really exciting. The album's called "Plain Jane". You're the first person I've told that to! (laughs)
Mb: Hey! I got the scoop!
CK: "You got the scoop"
Mb: So as you're writing a record, or a song in general, are you thinking "These are songs for me" or are they for someone else, because you've written for so many other artists.
CK: That's a really good question. For example there's a song that I wrote for an un-named “Uberstar”, I can't say who right now, until it makes the record. But I was secretly hoping she would not "cut" it, because I actually fell so in love with the song and wanted it for my own album. I knew it was a good song when I wrote it, and when I wrote the chorus and sang in to Raine and we continued to finish the song together and present it to this artist, I didn't know how much the song meant to me. There are words in it that relate to commitment. In particular... I have a newborn, an infant anyway, and you know at night, in the middle of the night, when your child is sick and you can't put them down, a sick baby wants to be held even while it sleeps, It’s very exhausting. And there's a lyric in the song that says "Keep running into my arms, I'll be careful with your heart, I'll be your shelter, I'll shelter you so hard, keep looking into my eyes, I see everything that you are, when you need to be carried, I'll carry you so far" and I was singing this lyric, those words, to my child in the night when he was sick, for weeks. It actually motivated me to carry my baby. I couldn't pull my strength from anywhere but this song and the song became so important to me and now I've given it up! It's like "Oh my God, I think I didn't mean what I said and it's my song and I want it on my record." So I'm secretly hoping she'll cut the song but that she won't put it on her record so I can put it on my record. We'll see what happens. But that isn't always what happens. Sometimes I write a song and it's a great pop song and it's not my song. Do I appreciate the song? Hell ya, but it's not my song.
Mb: So you have no problem moving out of yourself and looking at another artist and...
CK: No problem at all. I remember this one time Bryan Adams and I were doing an event and we were rehearsing and I said to Bryan "Are you planning on singing “Heaven”?' and he said "Ya" and I said 'You know when I was a kid I used to stand in front of the mirror with a brush, and I had actions, and I sang “Heaven” in the mirror over and over and over again. Will you fulfill my rock and roll fantasy and let me sing it with you?" and he was like "Sure". So I got up and sang "Heaven" with Bryan Adams! The reason I tell that story is that, when you love music and embrace all kinds of music... I'm like a jukebox. I play any song you ask me to, that's the way my ear works and I'm not saying that in a haughty way, it's pretty much the only thing I think I'm good at; being a mimic! (laughs) Because I can love all kinds of music it's not difficult for me to sit down with an artist and realize who they are, what kind of music they represent and to emulate that in the moment when we're trying to create the right song for them. It doesn't mean that I'm always successful at it, I'm not. That's just the planet I was born on. I'm a visionary for that artist, do you know what I mean?
Mb: Is that the actor in you?
CK: You know, that's interesting. Maybe, because I also find acting really easy. It's no problem for me to be in front of a camera and do what I'm suppose to do. I would have no problem taking on that job either. Definitely when I walk into the studio, when that artist is there, given the right incentive, given the right ingredients and recipe, that's what comes togther. Being able to embrace that genre of music. I always tease Raine "Come on, let me in on an Our Lady Peace writing session, I'd love it" but of course they won't let me.
Mb: Why not?
CK: I'm not going to be Yoko Ono!
Mb: (laughs) I see that you're out playing a benefit with Diana Krall and I've also noticed you do a lot of philanthropic work.
CK: We're putting on a concert and it's for awareness of heart and stroke. Though that's not my main charitable outlet, I do have a close connection because I lost my cousin years ago, who was my dearest mate in the world so it brings a lot of joy to my heart, literally, to be a part of something like that.
Mb: And what is the most dear charity to your heart?
CK: Warchild Canada has historically been our main focus. My husband I both traveled to nations that have programs setup by Warchild Canada, Darfur, Iraq and Ethiopia, so we do as much work as possible for them; concerts, albums, travel, awareness. It's always a balancing act. Being part of the world always ends up being the best part, you know? It's good to make sacrifices and be part of something bigger than yourself. That's really become who we are and the way we live our lives. Search for chantal kreviazuk

Interview: Bruce Cockburn

(2009) In the 20 years I’ve spent interviewing musicians, there have only been a handful that I’ve been truly excited to get; Gene Simmons, Mr. Dress-Up and Bruce Cockburn. Having first discovered his music when I was a fledgling folk performer in the early 80’s, I, like so many others, cut my teeth imitating his acoustic guitar style while singing his gentle poetic lyric in coffee shops and on street corners across Canada. Later, Bruce began performing electrically with a band and singing a new kind of lyric, one that spoke to the issues today’s world faced, and again, like many others, I was inspired to follow his lead and sing out about injustice. 26 albums, countless awards, made an officer of the Order of Canada, a million zillion miles of road and Bruce hasn’t lost his stride for a moment. He’s been covered by everyone from the Barenaked Ladies to Anne Murray, George Hamilton V to Jerry Garcia and his latest solo live CD “Slice O Life” reminds us why... 
I first met Bruce in 1982 and was thrilled to be speaking with him 27 years later, even if he did forget about calling me...

Mb: You lost track of what day it was!? You must be performing a lot!
BC: My apologies. I'm actually in San Francisco right now. The tour hasn't started yet. We're busy out here with various things. It’s been a bit hectic. There's been a lot of interesting stuff going on but of course the big thing is the new album. It's been finished for quite awhile but its exciting for it to finally come out.
Mb: I bet. Tell me more...
BC: Well, it's a solo live album and it's the first of that kind of album I've done. There's been other live albums, but they've all been different bands. Over the years there's been a minor agitation among the audience to have a solo album because I've always gone back and forth between working in a band context and doing solo shows. The solo shows have quite a different affect than the band shows and I guess some people wanted to be able to take that home with them. That's what we've tried to do with this album. It was recorded last spring and we worked on it through the summer and now it's going to come out.
Mb: Being solo, did it feel like a throw back to recording your first records?
BC: Not really. because I'd done so much solo playing over the years. It was different from the first album. The first album was done in 3 days. In that sense it wasn't so different because that album was based on me going into the studio and playing the song. We didn't get fancy with it at all, even by the standards of the time. This time of course we had all the technology. We had Colin Linden who recorded and produced the album and did an excellent job of executing the recording part of things. He used a lot of different mics and we had many tracks of me to play with. We had fun mixing the album, but there was a lot of weeding to be done because we recorded 10 shows. So there was basically 40 hours of music to go through to pick out the performances. That was a long and arduous process for me because I found myself getting quite anal about the performances, like, "We can't use that one! It's got a mistake in the third bar." In the end you have to forgive yourself because it's part and parcel of a performance. Nothing’s ever perfect.
Mb: I imagine there are so many fans that long for the old sounds, the solo acoustic, singer songwriter sound. What have you enjoyed the most? The earlier bare-bones or the band productions you released later in life?
BC: It's really all good, you know? It's just different. To me the big distinction is between live and in the studio and once you're in the studio whatever you do becomes a technical exercise. It's like putting together a jigsaw puzzle only you start by designing the puzzle, cutting it up and then putting it back together.
Mb: Can that be a distraction?
BC: No, not really. It's just a totally different thing from playing live, where it's very immediate and everything happens in real time and in the moment. In the studio you could operate that way. You could decide to use the first takes of everything you record, and actually a lot of times over the years we have done that because they've turned out to have the best feel or whatever, but you still have to take what you've done and turn it into something you can present to people.
Mb: I wonder about the moment you turned electric and added the band; “Dancing in the Dragon's Jaw”. Did you think "It isn't so much about the song anymore as much as it is about both the song and the sound?"
BC: In a certain way that's true. It's always been about the sound, of course, but it is a different process. It's comparable to playing solo or playing with the band. I play the same thing essentially but when you add the other instruments to it, it sounds really different and it has a really different impact on people. You try to go for the essence of the song. You want whatever works about that song, but it is possible to mess that up. It is possible to over produce stuff so you lose that. When I made my first album my intent was to have it as unproduced as possible. I remember saying to Bernie Finkelstein, who had just founded True North Records, "If there's a producer I don't want a producer who will try to make it fancy. I just want it to sound like what I sound like when I play for people." But what happens when you get familiar with the studio is, you have this huge pallet of colours that's available to you that isn't there when you're in a solo situation or even with a band live. The temptation is to use that pallet, and why not! It's all tools for creativity.
Mb: Let's change gears for a minute and talk about your political career.
BC: If you call that a career... sure. (laughs)
Mb: You've been so involved in getting a political message out through your songs and I wonder what made you think to do that and do you still think that way?
BC: Well, it came about gradually. In the beginning I thought it was totally inappropriate to write songs about political things because I guess it was just something I grew up with. Some kind of liberal notion that art and politics shouldn't mix and that art would be tainted by any intrusion of the political. Over the years I changed my feelings about that, partly because of travels. Well, very much because of travel's actually. Traveling in Latin America, for instance, where there's a tradition of singing political songs. It's part of the pop culture. You realize in a lot of places in the world you can just ignore politics, but the politics will come up and whack your head off in the night! So maybe it's better to be paying attention. So all this combined with the idea that you could actually make good art of political material was something I got from the singer songwriters of Latin America. I realized the proper distinction for me was not between art and politics but art and polemics. I think a song that is intended to just be propaganda is not worth writing for me. But if the song is springing from your own emotional response to the thoughts you're having, then it's possible to make art out of that. That's the chief criteria for me. I'm not the kind of song writer that sits down and says "OK now I'm going to write a song about Stephen Harper" (laughs) What triggers the writing process is a emotional response to something, I'm outraged by something or I'm saddened by something or excited by something and those feelings produce songs. I'm just trying to tell truth as I see it. They're not based on ideological affiliations or anybody's dogma, they're what I've experienced myself.
Mb: I'm sure a lot of people became politically aware of Latin America because of your music and you as a catalyst helped grow the trend of that awareness. What do you do when people then come to you asking for your help on issues?
BC: You're right, that's exactly what happened. How do I deal with it? A lot of people are doing a lot of work around a lot of different issues or a lot of different aspects of what I feel to be the two real issues in the world; the way we treat each other and the way we treat the planetary system we depend on for survival. Everything else is an off shoot of one of those issues. There are a lot of people trying to make things better in the world and if they ask for help and they seem to know what they're doing and I have the time and the logistics can be worked out, I usually say “Yes” to those sort of things. There's just so many worthy things that need support. It's hard for me to see myself as an activist, or anything much more than a big mouth, but that big mouth can help some of the genuine activists get the work done. So, I like to do that when i can. Search for bruce cockburn

Interview: Joel Plaskett

(2009) Since 2006, Plaskett has toured extensively both solo and with The Emergency, to sold-out clubs and theatres throughout Canada, the U.S., the U.K. and Australia, on the heels of great Canadian success with his Make A Little Noise DVD & EP (2006) and Ashtray Rock concept album (2007). Make A Little Noise spawned an infectiously catchy hit single, “Nowhere With You,” that landed Plaskett on the Top 10 at hot Adult Contemporary (AC) radio. He also garnered three 2007 East Coast Music Awards (ECMAs) “of the year” wins: Single for “Nowhere With You,” DVD for Make A Little Noise, and Songwriter. Ashtray Rock was nominated for the prestigious Polaris Music Prize, and earned Plaskett and his band all six of the 2008 “of the year” ECMAs for which he, and they, were nominated: Recording, Group Recording, Single (for “Fashionable People,” another hit song), Video (also for “Fashionable People”), Rock Recording, and Songwriter. He’s also earned several Juno nominations (including Songwriter of the Year along side Neil Young), and was the First Place Winner in the 2008 Great American Song Contest and the Billboard World Song Contest, for “Fashionable People” (in the Pop Category). That’s the kind of action that keeps a man on the road to support it. he’s recently release his newest CD “Three” and is beginning to tour it across the country. I caught up with Joel by phone in between shots of his latest video...

Mb: Hey Joel, how are things?
JP: Great!
Mb: You're shooting a video today. What's the song?
JP: A song called "Through and Through and Through". Second song on the record and we've been shooting yesterday and today. Ya... fun.
Mb: How do you like that process?
JP: I don't mind it. I've done a bunch of videos so I'm used to it. Sometimes it's a little cut and paste. You're never singing the song in its entirety. Long days too. We're trying to shoot with day light so we shoot until the sun goes down. But it's fun. Video's are a strange thing. I try to treat them as casually and as fun now because you don't know who's going to play them. MuchMusic doesn't really play a lot of video anymore. So they're essentially promotional things. So I sort of feel like "If you're going to spend the time doing them you might as well have a kick out of doing it.” So this video's me driving around in vehicles I've never been in. I drove a boat yesterday, a fishing boat... I sat in a fork lift playing... I got driven around in a side-car of a carts... it's all traveling stuff. I drove a convertible for the first time and I got rowed about by these kids who are rowers trying out for the team Nova Scotia rowers.
Mb: Sounds like fun. Are you an actor?
JP: No, I'm not much of an actor.
Mb: You play yourself?
JP: I play myself. I've been in that film "One Week" which just recently came out. I haven't seen it yet but I'm playing a busker so no stretch. I'm not really acting, I'm just singing.
Mb: And what about singing? I hear you're a big fan of it...
JP: Ya, I love singing. I've never felt I've had a great voice but I feel I've gotten better. It's funny. I can hear my voice aging and getting stronger. I've relaxed about my singing so I'm hearing it the way I like it.
Mb: At what point in your life did you know "this is for me".
JP: As far as music goes? Oh boy, I was pretty young, a teenager when I dove right into it. We had this band called "Thrush Hermit" when we were younger. We started playing togther as a band when we were about 14 years old. When we were 16 we started playing locally and I tend to think if I wasn't playing music I might be a teacher or something like that. became friends with Sloan and they sort of supported us to a certain degree. We were on Murder Records and started touring with them and got swept up in that whole Halifax thing that was happening n the early 90's. When I graduated high school we had a record deal with Electra and we went on the road and I thought “What else am I going to do?”
Mb: If it hadn't been music, what else would you have done?
JP: One thing I really enjoyed is passing on knowledge or teaching. I've done stuff like Rock Camp.They had this show and they asked me to be a coach to these kids on how to be a band. Ultimately it was just helping them put something together. I like production for the same reason. So I tend to think if I wasn't playing music I might be a teacher or something like that. I really like young people. I always think about the teachers I had that did a good job. I would maybe have the same aspirations.
Mb: And what would like to teach people?
JP:(laughs) I don't know. I've always had a fondness for language... English. Not that I use it correctly but I like words. I like books and I like poetry.. I like the written word... and the sung word.
Mb: Any time off from music?
JP: I don't have much time. Music is all encompassing. I've been producing records for other people and making my own, though I'm an avid reader and I love old movies; film noir and pulp crime novels. But I'm not a gardener or an insanely handy carpenter. Sometimes I think it maybe a short coming but I tend to pour myself into my music and I don't have a lot of other places my mind goes, unless it's spending time with family and friends.
Mb: And where does the "rush" come from? Is it the playing or the writing or the....
JP: A bit of back and forth really. When I'm preforming a lot I'm aching to get back in the studio but I love live performance. I love trying to think on my feet and be spontaneous. I like doing that in a live show and I do the same thing in the studio. Right now I'm really about playing these songs live because I've been in the studio for the past year and I'm tired of that. I'm now ready to rock some shows.
Mb: I see you’re playing Massey Hall before you play Cobourg.
JP: Ya I’m pretty excited about it. I’m kind of freaked out, but really thrilled.
Mb: How do you prepare yourself mentally for a show like that?
JP: I don’t know. I guess you prepare yourself physically. You play and get yourself in the zone. That sounds a bit sporty but there is a certain amount of athleticism in the sense of being relaxed. I just try to be as present at any show at any given time. It’s an important gig, but every gig is important.
Mb: And what do you want people to be thinking as they leave your show?
JP: I hope people leave thinking they’ve had a worthwhile couple of hours. The worst thing you want is for people to think they’ve wasted their time or didn’t get their money’s worth. What you’re hoping for is an overall collective experience that everyone has and that you share with them and when you hit the stage you have a “common” feeling. Even though you’re the performer and they’re the audience there’s something uniting everybody in the room.

Interview: Buffy Sainte Marie

by Michael Bell

(2009) A career that spans decades Buffy Sainte Marie first started performing in the early 60’s, sharpening her craft along side other 60’s legends like Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell and Neil Young. By 24 she had toured around the world and was voted 1964 Billboard Best New Artist for her debut album “It’s My Way”. She penned “Universal Soldier”, which became the anthem of the 60’s peace movement while sharing songs about love like “Until It’s Time For You To Go” which was covered by Elvis, Barbara Streisand and Cher. Other songs would be covered by artists as unrelated as Chet Atkins, Janis Joplin and Bobby Darin. She has appeared in film and TV, and her songs have become iconic hits. “Up Where We Belong” received an Academy Award for Best Song in 1981 for the unforgettable rendition Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes were to give for the film “An Officer and A Gentleman”. In 1992, after a 16 year hiatus, she recorded and released “Coincidence and Likely Stories” from her home in Hawaii and via internet with producer Chris Birkett. Always true to her native roots, she founded the Cradleboard Teaching Project in 1996 and developed projects across Mohawk, Cree, Ojibwe, Menominee, Coeur D'Alene, Navajo, Quinault, Hawaiian, and Apache communities in eleven states. 2008 marked the year she was to make her musical comeback onto the scene releasing “Running For The Drum”. An Academy Award-winning Canadian First Nations musician, composer, visual artist, pacifist, educator and social activist, Buffy spoke to me by phone from her home in the mountains of Hawaii surrounded by her chickens, goats, computers and memories....

Mb: Hi Buffy! My apologies, I’m late calling.
BSM: It’s always troublesome because we never know in Hawaii what time everybody thinks we’re at. It’s very easy to get confused.
Mb: So you’re in Hawaii?
BSM: I’ve lived here for most of my life.
Mb: What a beautiful place to live.
BSM: It is. It’s nice. It’s just a very long sit-down to go anywhere else because we’re in the most isolated spot on earth. Hawaii is more isolated than anywhere else on the globe.
Mb: You’re flying to everywhere you need to go...
BSM: My gosh, thousands of miles of ocean to everywhere. It’s a great place to live but ... I’m out there!
Mb: So, you know, there’s just too many things to talk about, so what do you want to talk about?
BSM: Did anyone send you the new album or the new video?
Mb: Yes they did.
BSM: Ok, start there and if you want to back up from there you can.
Mb: OK, how was making the new record?
BSM: It was great. I made it at home, as I have the last two albums. I just make it when I feel like it. I flew my co-producer in from France five times. So, we just recorded at home and got it the way we wanted to do it, and boy it’s a lot of fun. We’ve been out promoting it a little bit, because it hasn’t been out too long, and... oh man, my summer schedule... I get tired just looking at it! It’s all over Europe, all over Canada, we’re going to the U.S.... The album is being released in a staggered release so we don’t have to be everywhere at once. Boy, people really like it and I Iike that!
Mb: And you really like the recoding process?
BSM: Ya! Chris Birkett and I, this is our third album together so we know each other real well and he’s real nice to work with, so we enjoy it. There’s just far less pressure on us than if we were on the clock in somebody’s studio in some city... and it’s pretty out here too!
Mb: So at this point in your career do you feel like you’re able to record and write the way you want, shooting from the hip, as it were, rather than worrying about CD sales?
BSM: (Laughs) An artist better not! Things are different now because I’m not under contract to a big corporation so... I’ve always made records the same way. The only difference has been whether I’m making the artistic decisions or somebody else is. I much rather prefer to be in the driver’s seat since I’m the one who writes the songs and records them and all. So now I have a distribution deal with EMI where they do the marketing and distribution but otherwise no one but me and Chris have anything to do with making the album. It’s nice because artists are artists and business is business.
Mb: What do you think of the way the industry works now?
BSM: Of course it’s inevitable and in many ways it’s much better for fans and for artists, but it’s also a very competitive world. Yet it does seem kind of “fairer” now for people to be able to find just the songs they want.... to be able to get music from all over the world right into their house... I like it. I looked forward to it for a very long time and I tried to talk several record companies into getting interested in “this internet thing” and they didn’t want anything to do with it. I was real real early. I was making electronic music in the 60’s and went to movie scoring and was using computers starting in the mid 80’s for recording. When it all was just bubbling under I spoke to several record companies and people in the recording industry about it, but they just didn’t want to know. They didn’t understand how it would work. It was too early for them.
Mb: So you’re obviously a big fan of the internet.
BSM: Ya, sure! I’m a fan of communication. I think it’s wonderful. There’s casual communication and social communication and business communication but there’s also artistic communication. I’ve been using computers to record my music and to record my paintings and record my writings for a very long time. That’s what a computer does. It allows you to record things much better than the old equipment did. To record it and manipulate it and to change it and develop it and save lots of different versions and then to be able to distribute it to a very narrowly targeted audience or to put it out to where everyone can hear it... it’s much more in the hands of the artist now.
Mb: How do you feel about people being able to download your music for free.
BSM: Well, if I offer it for free, then I expect them to download it for free. I think things should be free anyway. But the reality is that not everything can be. I have never liked record companies stealing from artists and I don’t like audiences stealing from artists. I prefer downloads for pay. Then it’s an option on the part of the artist to what you want to give for free. I give away a lot of things for free. I founded the Cradleboard Teaching Project in the early 90’s and my dream was to have enough money and to have it develop far enough so that I could give it away for free to everybody on the internet and now that dream has come true. So I think that’s the idea, to make things available without having all kinds of middlemen between the artist and the audience.
Mb: What about your visual art?
BSM: You can see it online. If people want to buy the real deal, then they can get in touch with us. I think the images, whether it’s mine or some other artist’s... the images that artists make and the records that we make and the songs and the writings that we make are best if shared, but that’s not the business model that developed in the Middle East Judeo Christian, European kings model. It’s kind of a money model... a Caesar owns everything model! Everybody else just works here! The business model that developed has nothing to do with art that artists make. There will always be someone who wants to stand between the audience and the artist and take their piece, but now more than ever an artist can do things in a new way or a unique way or in a way they like. There are just more options now!
Mb: When people hear your music or hear your name for that matter, what do want them to think?
BSM: Oh god, I don’t care! (laughs) I’m a songwriter and various songs are interesting to various people for various reasons. Some people only want to hear “Universal Soldier” and other people only want to hear “Up Where We Belong”, and it’s all ok with me cause I like it all!
Mb: But as a communicator, what do you want to communicate?
BSM: I want people to take away something from a concert or hearing a record. I want them to take away something they didn’t have when they came in; a way of thinking or some pleasure. Some of my songs are topical and they are about being affective in the real world and some are just love songs and some are just fun to dance to. So I don’t care... help yourself.... enjoy!

Interview: Alan Doyle of Great Big Sea

by Michael Bell

(2009) According to their bio; Great Big Sea is a bastard. Forged from the loins of Figgy Duff and Ryan’s Fancy, GBS found its feet on the unforgiving streets of St. John’s, and stood their ground when others faltered. When asked about their unlikely success, founding member Bob Hallett is typically candid: “We weren’t the best musicians in town,” he says, “we just wanted it more. We were driven by a bloody-minded need to succeed and we were rewarded for our bleeding.” Well 15 years and 9 records later the band still wants it and returns to the road to visit all the places they didn’t get to last time around. I first interviewed Alan back in 1993 after the release of their self titled debut album. Well a lot water has passed under the bridge since then including a bunch of platinum selling records and a new acting career for Mr. Doyle. I spoke with him from his home early one morning...

Mb: Hi Alan. Where are you calling from?
AD: I'm home in St John's.
Mb: How's the weather out there?
AD: Gorgeous today. We had the storm come through a couple of days ago but it's passed and there wasn't much to it. On Saturday night we were in Toronto. We played the Molson Amphitheatre and the storm was heading home so we left the venue pretty much right after the gig. We got on the earliest morning flight home and we got the only flight into Newfoundland. There wasn't really that much damage. All part of living on a rock in the middle of the ocean.
Mb: Used to it are you?
AD: Hundreds of years of storms here. There's not much to it. We call it "the wind".
Mb: So you're out touring Ontario in September.
AD: Ya, we have a great run coming up. Just really continuing the "Fortune's Favour" tour. We're playing some places we didn't get to before we took a break. We're playing around Southern Ontario and Upstate New York. We're in the lucky position of having more towns than our tour can handle. Back to Peterborough... we haven't been there in few years. I'm not just saying this either, but I can't remember ever having a bad time in Peterborough. The best couple of gigs there were on the lake at that festival.
Mb: The festival of Lights.
AD: Ya, what a laugh.And of course Peterborough has that beautiful theatre as well. And we played once at the hockey rink.
Mb: And that's where you return to... you have a big following here.
AD: We've always had a blast there. We even got a ride in the back of a "paddy wagon" in Peterborough. It wasn't as an incarceration. It was a special guest thing. There hasn't been a limo since that has out done that ride!
Mb: Tell me about the movie you just acted in.
AD: I just finished principal photography on a new Robin Hood movie. It's a big Universal picture starring Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett and directed by Ridley Scott. I play Alan A'Dayle. He's the musician of the "Merry Men". It was a 22 week fantasy land. It was fantastic.
Mb: First journey into acting at that level?
AD: Ya, pretty much. I knew Russell for years and I knew Ridely a little as well, and Russell asked me over a year and half ago, in passing, if knew how to play the lute. "Like a medieval lute? (laughs) I play something like a lute every night!” He said "Do you think you can come to L.A. and read for a movie?" I said, 'Sure! What is it?" He told me what it was and I was like "Woe! That would be cool!" So I spent 20 odd weeks in the UK and the movie is out next May, so I've heard.
Mb: So what did you like about the experience.. or didn't like?
AD: The hardest part about it is the duration. That's a long time to be in one place working on one thing if you're a traveling musician. I'm used to being in a different place everyday doing something different. Working on a movie that big you're in one place for a long time working on the same thing. That would be the only complaint I'd have about it. The rest of it was fantastic. The best of it is the knowledge of it that you're making art on such a massive level. It's such a huge artistic effort. From the script to the actors to the direction and the photography, the sets and the costumes and it goes on and on and on. All these artistically minded story tellers trying to tell the greatest story of all. Just me being a tiny part of that was amazing.
Mb: So did you get scenes with Russell or Cate?
AD: I can't tell you that now! Well, right at the end of the movie when the aliens land... (laughs).. Yes, of course. I did a bunch of scenes. I hate to talk about any of the content of the movie. I'm not being secretive about it. It's just, a movie of that size and scale, I can't really comment on, and I suspect nor could Ridley, on what the final product is going to look like yet. I could say "I did this dandy scene..." and that scene might not make it!
Mb: Truth. OK, let's change it up... Tell me about working with Hawksley Workman on the CD.
AD: He's amazing. I mean, Hawksley... he's a savant. We've known him for a long time and I've always loved the way that Hawksley exaggerates and cartoons music. "If you're going to sing a bit loud, then we'll sing really loud. If we're going to sing high, we'll sing so high your lungs burst". I thought that sort of thing would treat our music fairly well and we'd be able to respond to that kind of enthusiasm in a very positive fashion.
Mb: I like on your CD liner notes where you suggest no one can remember who played what... was there drinking going on?
AD: Oh God, more than you can... (laughs) Ya, of course! It's a record! But it was literally about how we did the record. We basically recorded the whole record twice. First we did a pre-production or rehearsal session. Usually a band would do that in a garage or rehearsal studio and try to remember what they did. We own our own studio, so we just did it in the studio and we recorded all that stuff. Some of which we kept and made it to the final record. Some of which, I played the drums on while we were rehearsing just to show someone a part. Some of which Sean would have played a bass line and handed the bass to Murray.. or one time Murray played the guitar and then I played the piano on something that we ended up liking, and I'm a terrible piano player. When we came back and re-did the whole thing we kept songs or didn't keep songs or kept parts from here and there and I didn't have a clue how to credit this record. Like there's a cool banjo part on one of the songs that no one can remember playing! Somebody did it! It's on there! (laughs) So it's part "haziness" I confess and part spontaneity.
Mb: I imagine listening back you wondered "Who is this band?"
AD: On "Fortune's Favour" that's exactly what we wanted. We said "Look, no rules. We don't need to introduce ourselves to anybody anymore. Let's bring in a guy that we love and trust and let him have the reins, fully and completely." And it was to that degree. We said 'You're the boss". And he found it very refreshing. If we didn't like something we certainly spoke up, but we let Hawksley run the "camp".
Mb: What's your favourite song on the CD? I know that's a cliche question but...
AD: I never pick my own songs. I'm always more keen to brag about other people's songs. I think "England" is one of the coolest folk songs we've ever done, the one that Sean sings. That was, ironically enough, the most sparse and most untouched. He wrote it in about an hour one day and I just fell in love with it.
Mb: How long do think you'll tour this record? Are you working on anything new right now?
AD: We just got together again last weekend and we did a small run of gigs and for the rest of the summer we're doing the odd weekend here and there and then the end of September, we start in Peterborough on the 23rd, and then we do dates in Ontario.. all places we didn't get a chance to play last time. Then in October we head to the States... and then we're going to record the next record just before and after Christmas.
Mb: Any surprises on it?
AD: I couldn't tell you. It's all a surprise to me, so far. In another week we'll all get together and see what we have. We'll see who wants to sing what, then rehearse and then record the "Greatest record in the history of music!" (laughs)
Mb: That's what is coming next? And that's the one you play "trumpet" on?
AD: Burn your Abbey Road. (laughs) It's the on-going journey, not to sound all heavy about it. I think when you're in your early career you have this notion that the song you're about to sing or write for the album you're about to record, needs to say everything about you and everything to everybody and that the song has to have the greatest message in the history of the planet, you know? But as you get older and more content, I suppose, you become really willing to let songs be about something small. About something little... a moment. I think you come to learn that the best songs are about that. With the "Fortunes Favour" record, that's a complete snapshot of 3 months of our lives.. and that's it. Search for great big sea