The Tragically Hip chat transcript
Popular Canadian rock group The Tragically Hip chatted with JAM! Music on Monday November 13th about their upcoming winter tour, their music and whatever else was thrown into the chat room. Read the full transcript:
The Tragically Hip: Johnny Fay has joined us
I was just wondering what prompted you to do the special
With..." shows this year. Had it been in the works for a
while or did it
all come about recently? Also, please play Long Time
Running in Calgary!
The Tragically Hip: An Evening With, inevitably, we will leave a gig and someone will say, why didn't
So we have probably recorded over 85 songs as a band, and we have some
songs in tHE sin bin that we haven't recorded or made rough recordings, and
somehow they got out there.
It just gives us a chance to play those songs so people aren't disappointed
and also gives us a chance to do a couple of acoustic numbers in a row.
In a regular set, it would be a lull. It gives us that opportunity to bring it
down and build it back up.
We are rehearsing tonight. It is kind of ironic. None of us have real versions
of it, we might have to go to Napster. Songs like "Get Back Again," I don't
know how this happened, someone bumped a cassette for a friend, and it got passed that way
Hey Guys...at this stage in your careers are you in the
mood to explore new types of music, perhaps jazz, blues,
The Tragically Hip: Always. When we are driving in the bus, this is what makes our band a great
band, we all draw on different influences. Any given night, you can hear
Asian Dub Foundation to Miles Davis, everything. Everyone loves music and
we are working musicians and we love playing. I don't know, everyone is happy
being in this band at the moment. I don't think we will do a jazz record,
but we are influenced by where we record. "The Luxury" had the feel and sound
of where we were at that point in our career, in New Orleans
The US market has to date seemed to elude the 'Hip'.
even with the fabulous showing at Woodstock. What is the
band doing to crack the market? Are Americans just not
smart enough to know a good band when they hear one?
The Tragically Hip: That's kind of you to say that.
When we first started, America was this brass ring. To be successful, you had to
be huge in the states. Obviously you don't, if you use us as your little thumb. We have done it
on our own terms, been together for 16 years and we did it out of friendship.
We had people tell us we were going to the top, but Americans are strange.
We have huge, huge fans that we have been able to get into the band, and they
travel to Canada to see us in a stadium after seeing us in a small club, the
exact opposite of Canada.
Buffalo might be one of our biggest Canadian markets, in a weird way. They want
to come and see us in Nashville in a club, it is really strange.
A lot of diehard fans enjoy some of your unreleased
songs (such as Get Back Again, Radioshow, Its just as
well, Ouch, and Montreal). I sure that you guys have
collected a lot more unreleased songs over the years.
Have you ever though about officially releasing a
rarities cd or boxed set?
The Tragically Hip: We have talked about it. We have all the stuff on tape from over the years
I guess it is just one of those things, if we have time, it would make
its way out. I like that about the Police, they did a box set, and every
note the band ever played was released. That was cool. I know there are
some tapes in California, at MCA, our old record label, and some tapes
from England for Fully Completely. It is just a case of tracking them down
Robbie is tracking them down.
Just out of curiosity in your past several music videos you
have portrayed a band and always with a different band
The Tragically Hip: The band in "Poets" video was Rick and The Rodents, that was Robbie Baker and Gord
Sinclair's band. They were one of the first bands I ever saw live.
Then we did Filters, the band connecting that. Robbie and Gord Downie. They were in
"Music@ Work." We just thought it was a tip of the hat to the old days.
We were a band in "Something On." I forget the name of the band. They changed the bass
drum skin. They are usually bands we have been in over the years.
What do you think about Matt Good accusing your record
company of buying your albums to put it over the million
The Tragically Hip: I don't know Matt Good from a bar of soap. If he said that, he is entitled
to it. It doesn't make a lot of sense.
I don't know that it actually came from him. I don't know him, nor do I care
what he says.
Every time we tour, our catalogue starts selling. They hear the songs and go
out and buy the disc. Starting with the first record, "Up To Here" sold
a million copies over 10 years. That has more than anything to do with
a lot of touring. Next was "Road Apples," "Fully," "Day For Night," which are all
hovering around 900,000 copies. It doesn't seem like our record company
would do that.
If Matt Good said that, and I'm not accusing him of it, but f--k him!
I was wondering if you were coming out with the ACC New
Years Eve concert on video
The Tragically Hip: I don't know if we are. I think the reason they sold out is we were the only
people on the planet who didn't want to whack our friends, it was under $100 for
a date. Look at the bands who had to cancel gigs because of inflated price.
I think our fans appreciated that. I think it would be going down the wrong
path. Those evenings were good nights of music, and I think we will leave
it at that. I could be wrong, and our manager could be producing the video, but
as far as I know, we are not.
What was your favourite album to record? Is there one that
stands out in your mind as better than the rest?
The Tragically Hip: For sure, I love the song "Opiated," from "Up To Here." That is not saying there
aren't great tracks all along. When you are first recording an album, new
band, and you are just so blown away to be in the studio, you are recording
something that will hopefully last a long time. That track sits out and
highlights the whole experience of recording in Memphis, in the studio where the
Replacements recorded "Please To Meet Me." I enjoyed it alot.
Considering that this tour features only yourselves and is
a blitz of your music; some people seem to fear that this
could be an unannounced farewell tour. Is this the 'last
hurrah' for The Hip? Hopefully not. (Please play Cordelia
on December 6!!)
The Tragically Hip: Just let me write that down ...
(he really is writing these down)
I'm always amazed ... when we go to Vancouver, we stay in the same hotel every time.
When we played the Commodore, I thought, this might be the biggest gig we
will ever play. You never know. I don't think so. Everyone is committed to
being in the band. We all enjoy doing it. This gives us an outlet for playing
I am the drummer, so I would be the last to know the group was breaking up, probably.
Who are some of your favorite bands? What is a new CD that
you have purchased lately?
The Tragically Hip: I started playing he drums because of Stewart Copeland. A friend of mine
gave me a bootleg from Australia. When I was in public school, I played it
over and over, and I wore it out. He was the reason I play the drums
I have all the obvious ones. U2 record, Radiohead, I like guitar a lot
so I bought this new Mark Knopfler, and a guitar player from NYC Tony Scherr.
He plays bass with Bill Frissell. I listen to him a lot, too.
Is Kate and Chris going to remain a permanent members of
The Tragically Hip: I don't think so. They have got a great band in their own right. I don't think
they want to be part of our thing. It is a great time when you start out
doing it on your own. Chris played with BNL on a tour, was in the Bourbon
Tabernacle Choir. As soon as we finish this tour, they go back out on their
Listening to you guys Ive always thought that a pedal steel
would sound beautiful on a number of songs? Any thoughts?
The Tragically Hip: Ryan should listen to the first record, "Last American Exit." "Phantom Power," Bob Egan
playing on "Membership," "Emperor Penguin," and another track.
We love slide guitar.
How do you feel about people bootlegging your music at live
shows. DO you have the Greatful Dead approach where is
encouraged or do you feel like you are getting ripped off?
The Tragically Hip: There are two schools of thought. Obviously people who are bootlegging have
your records. They just want alternative versions of songs. That's great.
One thing that isn't great is people who show up and expect from our
soundman a feed from the board or their own line. When it interferes with
him and his day of getting everything together to accommodate these people,
it might do something to our sound, then we have a problem with it.
Some of the bootleggers show up and demand, which is not right. Taping, I am
all in favor of it.
One guy has made a lot of dough, with commercial boots, and if you open up
that can of worms...it is just a way for him to make dough.
This is probably the lamest question you'll get today,
but...if you weren't in the music industry, what would you
The Tragically Hip: I might be cooking. A chef or something like that. I worked as a busboy and
that was gruesome. But I like to cook. I might do something like that.
I got into this band right out of highschool so I had no options. the intent was
not to make money. I don't know what I would do. I was very lucky.
How will Gord Downie's new solo album affect the band's
status? Did you contribute to the album?
The Tragically Hip: I didn't contribute, except for support, as we all have. I don't think you
can be in a band over the years without accumulating stuff. Everyone has
got stuff. It will affect the band in the most positive way. He is constantly
writing. He was in a band I saw when I was in public school. I thought this
guy was incredible and had incredible presence onstage.
If you put it in terms of how long he has been doing it, over 20 years, playing
in bands, dedicated to playing for people, it is very natural for Gord to do
I think he is in the process of mastering it. He wouldn't play it for us
until he is done.
I think it is a poetry book with a CD in it. I think the packaging is like that, not normal.
Ask Matthew Good if he has any packaging ideas.
Who do you think is more moved by you music, Fans or the
Band. Do you guys enjoy when Gordie pontificates?
The Tragically Hip: Yes of course, it keeps you on your toes. As a drummer, I get my cues from him,
so in "100th Meridien," he will be ranting, and I will have to get my cue from
him. Sometimes he will jump in or leave it for 10 minutes. "Fire In The Hole" is
the same thing. The first line is when you dig in.
I AM LOOKING TO START A BAND.. HOW HARD IS IT TO MAKE IT IN
THE BUSINISS WHEN COMING OUT OF CANADA.
The Tragically Hip: I think the music business is more healthy than ever. Especially with recording
Anybody can record on a computer. My advice is don't let anyone discourage you.
You can definitely do it. We are a case in point of that. In Kingston, there
is 100 better guitar players and drummers or whatever. But it has to do with friendship.
You have got to get out of your basement. That is how you grow as a musician.
You have got to be faithful as a band. With people you want to make music with, you will have no problems.
There won't be record companies soon. You will be doing it on your own. Music is
getting back into the hands of the people that matter, consumers.
The Tragically Hip: I mean music lovers, not consumers.
Hazel from Winnipeg:
My friends and I were at your War Child Conference in
Winnipeg, it was awesome, was it as great an experience for
The Hip as it was for the fans?
The Tragically Hip: Thank you Hazel.
It was pretty unbelievable. They pitched us on it, and it gives War Child Canada
a good financial start. The people of Winnipeg were unbelievably generous.
I would say it was one of the most beautiful days of playing. We will never
forget that day.
Hip in Hamilton:
How do you decide which songs get picked for an album and
which song gets released first?
The Tragically Hip: The sequencing is something that Gord Sinclair gets involved with. We kind of put
a record together of how it would play as an album. We used to say the cream
rises to the top. But when you are making soup, the scum rises too.
Inevitably, we agree on a group of songs. You just know when the song is
After 16 years of being together how do you guys keep the
music fresh and continue to grow as musicians?
The Tragically Hip: I think we just enjoy playing. We have such a backlog of songs. You are always
trying to push yourself. Every record is different for Gord. He doesn't
have a formula for lyrics. He constantly changes that. Everyone is honing in
on different aspects of their playing.
With U2, Larry Mullen Jr. occasionally steps up to the
mike to do a number? Do you think you'll ever do any
singing with the Hip or do you have any interest in
The Tragically Hip: I can't say I do. My voice is too good. They won't let me sing. It is their loss.
I am happy back where I am, thank you.
Has anyone in the band ever been injured by a fan throwing
something on stage? What is the strangest thing that has
ever been thrown?
The Tragically Hip: We played a gig in Molson Park. Gord had a microphone with a screw in it, and he
could adjust where the microphone was. At small gigs he would say, has anyone got a quarter to tighten this up.
At Molson Park, he asked it, and people were zinging them. A couple of people got
them in the eye.
The drum tech found $40 of quarters onstage.
You have to be careful about what you throw from the stage, too. I used to zing the sticks out, and our agent said not to. Someone can come back
and sue you.
The Tragically Hip: Now it is a handoff. Little kids enamored by drums, so I will give them to little kids.
Heather from Barrie:
What is the most rewarding part of being who you are? The
greatest canadian band?
The Tragically Hip: We have never looked at ourselves that way. We are one band in a country
full of great bands. It is rewarding being able to play. You never know
if your next record will sell. To have an audience after all this time, we
must be doing something right.
What would you hope a fan gets from a Tragically Hip
concert that they can't get from a studio album?
The Tragically Hip: Entertained. That is kind of stating the obvious. We have always been told
that our records are never like the live show. That is a good thing.
We write a song, and there comes a time where you have to commit it to
tape. We make a record and then promote it, and by that time, the song
might have changed for the better. We are constantly doing that sort of thing.
Fans know every night is different.
You guys will be far from home come election time - have
any (or all) of
you been able to make arrangements to vote in absentia?
The Tragically Hip: Yes we have.
We are small P political. We agree on War Child, Camp Trillium, but politics
of the band are kept on the bus.
With the growing influence of electronic music on a lot of
bands today, have you guys ever considered blending in that
type of music into your songs? I kinda hope not, but would
be curious of the results!
The Tragically Hip: "John Cage" that was something very strange, a loop I came up with, in "Tiger
The Lion." The working title was "John Cage." I was just going to keep it for a soundtrack.
I had a guitar synth, I plugged it into another synth, and plugged it into
a digital recorder. It just started happening. I recorded 10 minutes
of it. It was an off, side thing. It works well. Live, it is a loop. Tonight
we are firing it off this pad, but usually it is off a loop, and I hear a click-track
and play over that. In the breaks, the cello stuff is still there.
We kind of dip our feet into that pool now and then. I don't know how it will
influence us. But I love electronics.
Do you see the age of the audience increasing with the age
of the band? Or do you continue to attract a younger
The Tragically Hip: We attract younger and older. We had someone in Phoenix who were 72. We have
had people say, my parents listen to the Hip. Or they say, my parents turned
me on to The Hip. It is expanding both ways, which is what you want.
Would you ever consider asking fellow Canadian Daniel
Lanois to produce an album for you??
The Tragically Hip: We did a little bit of recording with him when we did the first Roadside Attraction,
with the touring entourage. It was really cool. I don't know that he would
be interested in doing a record with us. He is pretty specific who he
Mark Howard, who did "Day For Night," is his protege. He told us Dan turned down The
Rolling Stones. He only works with very spiritual people.
The Tragically Hip: What Dan did, he is the George Martin of U2. The records he does with them
and Brian Eno is their best work. They are the fifth and sixth members
of U2. The record they just did is amazing.
From a drummer's perspective, what is the most technically
difficult song you guys play live?
The Tragically Hip: There are a couple.
I find "Grace," "Don't Wake Daddy," "Cordelia" are not easy.
From our songs, definitely those ones. You have got to keep the pulse when
the others are playing stuff counter to that. In "Daddy," I am the only one
not doing some solo.
"Grace" sets the tone for the night. If I play it too fast, then songs will
go that way during the evening. If it has got a lot of groove, it dictates
how tempo will go for me.
The Tragically Hip: It is very kind of everyone to be supporting us after all this time. We appreciate
Thanks for tuning in. We look forward to seeing you all on the road.
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