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Tuesday, November 5, 1996

The fans interview the Hip

Oh Canada

Q. You guys are like a lightning rod for some people's patriotism. How do you feel about fans who identify you and your music so closely with some sort of essential Canadian-ness? Are you proud of that, or is it just an unnecessary pressure that detracts from the music?

A. We've never consciously tried to elicit a patriotic response from our fans, nor have we tried to embody that in our lyrics.

Speaking for GD, I can tell you that we've never tried to edit ourselves in any way. You write about what you know, stories that move you in some way, or about themes you want to explore. Over the years, we have written some songs that refer to Canadian events specifically, and others that reflect our response as Canadians to other themes and issues, because of who we are and how we've been raised. That's where it begins and ends for us. We'd never write a song because it was Canadian, nor would we avoid it.

If some of our fans can only identify with us on a nationalistic level, instead of a musical one, then I think that reflects more on them than it does on us.

Travelling abroad as much as we do has led us to appreciate where we live and who we are and I think our work reflects that; but we have definitely learned that there is no one distinct Canadian voice. All perspectives are valid, so we feel no pressure at all. - GS

Q. When Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, passed a bylaw stating the official language of the city would be English only, the Hip vowed never to play in the Northern Ontario town again. They even wrote a song about the lame-brains of my home town.

Yet, when the courts repealed the bylaw, stating that the city did not have the right, the Hip did play in the echo chamber of the Memorial Gardens.

Considering it was the high courts which said the city bylaw was not legal, and the city still operates in an English-only manner, why did the Hip agree to play at that venue?

Are the city's principals -- as racist Anglophones -- not what angered the band in the first place?

... Love the band, can't wait for every album to come out!

A. A classic case in point of the pitfalls of being pigeon-holed lyrically and thematically. Born On The Water was written some five or six years ago as a response to a specific event. The bylaw issue seemed really dumb to us so we wrote about it. Period.

To suggest that we were attacking the good people of the Sault as racists, fuelled by anger, is really over-stepping the mark. To further suggest that we should boycott the city or would allow this one event to permanently colour our feelings towards the people there is as stupid and intolerant as the event which prompted the song. - GS

Q. Do you ever grow tired of the flag-bearing patriotism displayed by your loyal Canadians following you down south?

Do you view the pilgrimmage made by your loyal followers some 1,000 miles to see "their" band in a small club in the States as a sort of rite of passage?

A. I can think of a few good reasons to wave the Canadian flag and a few good reasons not to wave any flag. None of them have anything to do with The Hip. If people travel our country and other countries, they would see that there are so many reasons to be proud as Canadians (in a reserved unflag-waving sort of way). - RB

Q. Do you see it as your role or responsibility as public figures to be political? I remember seeing you at Molson Park in Barrie on Canada Day and Gord D. spoke bitterly about "Canada Day" and what we were celebrating that day.

What do you think about what is happening to the poor, marginalized and vulnerable people in our province and this country? Be interested in any thoughts.

(P.S. love the music, love the lyrics, love you guys - see you on the 12th of December.)

A. I see our role or responsibility as musicians to be musical. We were a little uncomfortable with the way other musicians on the bill were treated. After an Evian bottle of urine was hurled at the stage it became a little difficult to go along with the whole Fraternal brotherhood thing. Probably a minority, but we had invited all those people as our guests, and we felt that we had assembled a cool and interesting day of music. It was that day that I began to think that booze together with Nationalism or Patriotism was a very dangerous mixture. Ultimately, I believe everything would have been way better if we'd done the whole thing on July 2nd - we could have celebrated the Canada of the Self and not the Canada that is sold to us. - GD

The fans interview the Hip continued




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