I think touring in Canada can be one of the greatest things for Canadian Bands. The country is soo vast and truly makes a “road trip” out of a tour, even if you only have 3 shows! We don’t have super concentrated areas for the most part, so unlike a US band doing a 8 show date, they may only have to drive a couple hundred miles – do that in Canada and you may drive a couple thousand. That being said, the Canadian tour is something I admire and I recently sat down with two such road warriors who are currently on a tour through the “Western” Canadian landscape.
Zachary Lucky has been featured on this blog a few times as his new album is one of my favourite albums of the year (and will be top 5 at least for Canadian albums this year) and I was lucky (no pun intended) enough to miss their Calgary date just over a week ago, but had a coffee with him and tour mate Andy Shauf the next day. Below is part of what we talked about and honestly, we just sat around and “talked shop”, but take a look inside the Canadian tour of Zach and Andy:
(Videos, streams and song downloads at bottom of interview)
- Zachary, even before “Come and Gone” was released, you have been touring and have not stopped. What inspired such a lengthy Canadian tour(s)?
When I decided to pursue music I went into it with the mind set that I would be devoting most of my time to it – and so that’s what I’ve tried to do. I don’t feel overly comfortable in the studio (although this past record was a different experience…) and performing live seems to be what comes natural to me, plus I love getting to travel as much as possible. Also though, in recent weeks I’ve come to realize where I (probably) got my sense of how touring should go – and I feel that my idea os touring were probably sprung from the music scene that I grew up in, which was the hardcore and punk music scene. When I started to go to shows at a young age, it was to see bands that toured for months on end, night in and night out. It probably had a lot to do with how I now approach touring.
- People don’t automatically think of Saskatoon/Saskatchewan for music, tell us about the Saskatoon Music Scene — the two of you are examples of the young talent in the city, what creates the urge to be a musician in SK.
Zachary: I don’t know if there is anything that really urges anyone to make music in the prairies specifically, I think there is a collectiveness to the prairies though. Believe it or not, there is a ton of great music coming out of the prairies, Saskatoon and Regina Specifically. I feel blessed to be among those artists that are taking their songs out of the province, around the country.
Andy: The Regina music scene is pretty close-knit. There are some great bands and talented individuals in the city. My urge to be a musician comes from my urge to be a good songwriter, and I think that’s influenced strongly by my living in the prairies.
- You both have new albums out, tell us about them or something about what brought them to be.
Zachary: I feel that Come and Gone was a natural progression for me – with three two EPs and a pre-release to the record, it came pretty naturally. The record definitely took its time though, and wasn’t a fan of sticking to any sort of plan. We originally planned to do the record with a couple different producers, one in Saskatchewan, and one in British Columbia. Both plans fell through. So we took what we had in our hands (metaphorically) and used it to the best of our abilities. We spent two weeks in the attic of a 100 year old home in Yorkton, Saskatchewan and crafted what became Come and Gone. All in all, I am super happy with how things turned out, but in the same breath – I can’t wait to start working on new songs, and some sort of new release.
Andy: My new album is an EP of songs that I really liked to play live right after my full length Darker Days came out. They are a little bit older, but they are songs that I feel were important to a time in my life.
- What is on your road trip mix-tape?
Zachary: A few records that I’ve been listening to a lot:
Deep Dark Woods – Winter Hours
J. Tillman – Year in the Kingdom
The Band – S/T
Roscoe Holcomb – That High Lonesome Sound
Joel Plaskett Emergency – Ashtray Rock
Wilco – Ghost is born / Being there
Andy: Zach just pumps the Nickelback all day and I plug my ears. Just kidding
- As a blogger, I sit and write about artists being out there on the road, but don’t actually experience it. What is the most challenging thing / most rewarding thing when touring?
Zachary: The road can both be real easy, and natural, and quite difficult and isolating sometimes. I think what I find hardest is how you can be distanced from society, and any sense of stability and normality. In this documentary about Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band, Conor says something along the lines of… “The longer you are gone, the less you can relate to anyone outside of the tour” and I find that to be pretty true. I think touring is like any other job, you can totally let it get you down, or you can make it the best thing you’ve ever been apart of. Its all what you make it.
Andy: The most challenging thing is probably just being away from home, and then coming back and wanting things to be the same as they were. The most rewarding thing is probably just playing shows.
- What has been the most receptive audience so far on tour (outside of hometown), either together or on your individual tours?
Zachary: On this particular tour so far, we’ve only three or four shows into the tour so things are still getting going – but out of the shows Andy and I have done together I would have to say that our house show in Calgary was the most enjoyable for me. It was packed to the rafters and there were people sitting upstairs against the railings, and crowded on the floor in this tiny living room – the place really felt full (which it was) – but everyone was there for the same reason. And I think those sorts of shows can be really amazing when everyone is on the same wavelength and there for the same purpose. It was a beautiful night.
Andy: We played in Edmonton a few nights ago a guy got kicked out of the bar for being disruptive, so that was pretty cool. They were pretty receptive. I’ve never had that happen before.
- Do you consider being tagged as “Canadian Musicians” as a sense of national pride or a descriptor for being in a niche market?
Zachary: I totally would wear the hat of being a Canadian Musician. I think the music business is constantly changing, especially in the past few years. Its gone from Canada being the hat to the American Music Industry to us being our completely own entity and I think that is something to really be proud of. I’m so proud about it and feel honored to be among the many amazing musicians that are leaving their mark on the music scenes around the world.
Andy: I think it’s a good thing. People seem to be interested in what’s going on in ‘Canadian Music’ these days.
- What is the biggest tool to getting noticed as a musician in Canada — is it the Web (and what parts), is it the tour or does the old adage “Make great music, make great fans” ring true?
Zachary: I think its a combination of both, the use of internet marketing and performing live. For me, I rely pretty heavily on touring. Its what I feel I excel at most, and in regards to touring, I think its just important to be consistent in different cities. People want to know that they’ll be able to see you perform in their city after the release of your record, and then a few months after that. At least as a listen, I feel that way.
Andy: I just to make good songs and hope that people want to keep listening. I have some pretty loyal fans and I’m incredibly lousy at doing internet things, so maybe it’s working out.
There you have a little insight into the touring of two of Saskatchewan’s best new musicians. They still have 7 dates together upcoming (See Zach’s MySpace page for a crap load of upcoming dates).
Find a video of Zachary playing “Small Town Streets” for Naked Jams Sessions – fantastic, you will see why I have been enjoying his album soo much.
Bonus stream of “O’ Ontario” – this one kills me!
I also had a chance to listen to the new release from Andy Shauf, and I have to say I am hugely impressed with this guy. He comes across as a quiet guy at first, but you know he has a sense of humour and an incredible talent for songwriting. The new release that he is selling on the tour is called “Waiting For The Sun To Leave” and is such a hushed collection of acoustic tracks that range from almost upbeat to a extra quiet laments – if you find it, definitely pick up a copy.
“Open” from Andy Shauf that appears on the new album:
“With You” – Andy Shauf, from “Waiting For The Sun To Leave”
Thanks again to both of this guys for stopping by a coffee shop in Calgary before heading out to BC to play shows. If you can catch either one of these two, I recommend it….if only you can tell me how the show was as I keep missing them…