Good times with the Sadies

Band’s co-front­man talks near-death ex­pe­ri­ence, Downie col­lab­o­ra­tion

Winnipeg Sun - - NEWS - KEVIN KING kking@post­

I had wanted to speak with Travis Good of the Sadies to get his take on what seemed a near-death ex­pe­ri­ence for him, only to be dumb­struck to learn of one that was all too real.

The genre-ben­ders from Toronto, hav­ing al­ready gone down what was a long col­lab­o­ra­tive road once with the 2014 re­lease Gord Downie,

The Sadies and the Con­quer­ing Sun, are work­ing on a set of songs recorded with the Trag­i­cally Hip front­man “near the end of that story.”

“We didn’t fin­ish a record, but just be­fore Gord checked out we recorded five songs with him,” Good said ear­lier this week from his Ed­mon­ton ho­tel room. “It was in­spir­ing to see him sing with so much power and stuff when he ob­vi­ously wasn’t feel­ing great. It was to­tally in­spir­ing. I mean, I don’t know what else to say. It was sad and it was in­cred­i­bly happy all at once.”

Men­tion­ing that I’m hes­i­tant to press him for de­tails on such an emo­tional topic, even more than a year af­ter his death last Oc­to­ber, even for some­one who wasn’t close to Downie like the band was, Good seems to un­der­stand.

“Ev­ery­one in Canada is close enough, I think,” not­ing of the project: “I have no ex­pec­ta­tions for that. Like I said, it’s not a full record. I just think we owe it to him to do some­thing with it.”

As for Good’s close call, as silly as it now seems, you may have al­ready seen it and if not, you might want to search it up. Per­form­ing at an old, ren­o­vated church in Mait­land, N.S., on Sept. 30, he was nearly brained by a fall­ing light cover that took out his mi­cro­phone stand be­fore crash­ing onto the stage.

“Yeah, that was a close call. I didn’t know what hap­pened. I thought maybe I got elec­tro­cuted from the mic, and then I looked down and saw all the bro­ken glass. I re­mem­ber think­ing, ‘I prob­a­bly look like Car­rie up here on the stage. I’m prob­a­bly cov­ered in blood,’” joked Good. “Then I re­al­ized I was OK and I just thought, ‘You gotta start play­ing right away cuz you don’t want to re­flect on this mo­ment. Keep the mo­men­tum go­ing.’”

Some 24 years af­ter Travis and co-front­man/lead gui­tarist brother Dal­las started the band, along with bassist Sean Dean and drum­mer Mike Belit­sky, they’re still build­ing mo­men­tum.

They’ve de­vel­oped a sig­na­ture sound that de­fies sim­ple de­scrip­tion but is sought af­ter in col­lab­o­ra­tions rang­ing from Blue Rodeo to John Doe to Neko Case to Andre Wil­liams and be­yond. They’re renowned as tal­ented play­ers and song­writ­ers who put out strong al­bums and a con­sis­tently great live show that pro­duced one of the best live Cana­dian al­bums of all time (In Con­cert, Vol. 1).

For those of us that love them, and they cer­tainly have a ded­i­cated fol­low­ing, there’s a con­stant won­der of when the Sadies are go­ing to break.

“That’s what we’re try­ing to do,” Good said. “Slowly but surely, y’know? I think it’s a good pace be­cause it does seem to still be — be­lieve it or not for 20 years — it still seems to be slowly build­ing. I guess we set the bar really low in the be­gin­ning.” The Sadies wrap up the cur­rent leg of their tour on Mon­day night at the West End Cul­tural Cen­tre, with Hal­i­fax’s Wal­rus open­ing. Then they have a bit of a break be­fore head­ing out on tour in sup­port of Kurt Vile that be­gins on Valen­tine’s Day. In the mean­time, Good says they’ll “hun­ker down” and get to writ­ing their next al­bum, the fol­low-up to 2017’s North­ern Pas­sages.

Whether that project, or the one with Downie, or the tour with Vile, brings them to a de­served wider au­di­ence re­mains to be seen, but Good cer­tainly isn’t sweat­ing it.

“Af­ter the light fall­ing and (recre­ational mar­i­juana) le­gal­iza­tion, I’m very happy to be here.”


The Sadies are Sean Dean, left, Travis Good, Dal­las Good and Mike Zelit­sky.


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