A Conversation with Blackie & the Rodeo Kings
Puremusic: First of all, what do you guys need to do? Do you got to eat? Do you got to get somewhere? Im sensitive to the band's needs.
Colin Linden: We'll probably eat after. So we're just killing time now.
Tom Wilson: We got time.
PM: Well, beautiful, then. So when we spoke last, I called you on your cell and you guys were in the limo headed to a big gig. I caught you on your way to a Canadian music awards show.
CL: Oh, the CCMAs. [Canadian Country Music Awards]
PM: What happened at that show--you guys played, right?
CL: Yeah, there was one segment in the middle of the show where all the roots nominees performed. Well, except Kathleen Edwards, she wasn't in this little segment because she wasn't there, but it was the other roots music nominees. Corb Lund, ourselves, Sean Hogan, and The Good Brothers. And it segued into a medley of Good Brothers songs because they were being inducted in the Hall of Fame. So we were all staged together, and we played live. Are you familiar with The Good Brothers?
PM: I'm interviewing the younger Good brothers tomorrow--I'm mad about them.
Stephen Fearing: Oh, say hi to them for us. They're really good guys.
TW: Their dad and uncles are legends in the country--
CL: Sort of bedrock Canadian country. So we were all staged together. We played this thing that was the only live music on the show, and it was total chaos and fun and goofy, and then we left.
PM: Oh, TV shows are so messed up like that when you're doing them live.
TW: Well, I guess with the CCMAs, they have just about enough budget to make it onto TV.
CL: They don't have two or three cents to spare. They do a really admirable job of pulling it together.
PM: And does the whole nation watch a show like that? I mean, is it a very big deal, the Canadian Country Music Awards?
TW: Apparently there were more people watching it than had watched the Junos [the Canadian Grammys], which is interesting to note. I don't know the country world in Canada very well at all. Colin knows way more.
CL: It was actually broadcast live to CMT in America. So it was the first time we ever played on CMT USA.
PM: Oh, wow!
CL: We're just a minute and thirty seconds of it, but it was great.
PM: And what song did you play?
CL: "Swinging From The Chains Of Love."
PM: That's a monster song. That should be getting country air play in the United States. Is anybody going to market that to country?
CL: It's getting some Americana action.
SF: Yeah, it's more the Americana thing.
CL: It's too outside for mainstream country. I mean, real country music is too outside for mainstream country.
PM: Yeah, right. You often hear that on Music Row these days, "That's too country for country." It's obscene.
CL: I remember when I was still with Warner Chappell, I'd bring a song that I thought would be a really good, a song that I wrote, something straight-ahead country, and they'd kind of look sideways at me and say, "That's a pretty good country song, dot, dot, dot."
CL: "But what are we going to do with it?"
PM: Dave Olney, I remember hearing after he recorded a great song in a demo session one time, he said, "Okay, well, thanks a lot. I'm going to go down to my publisher's office and trade that for a blank stare."
CL: That's pretty good.
PM: So was "Stoned" your first single in Canada from this record?
TW: It was.
PM: How did "Stoned" do? Did that get some action up there?
CL: It got some.
SF: In some pockets.
TW: It's Halifax, Hamilton, Ottawa, Montreal.
CL: Yeah. Montreal, a couple places played the hell out of it. But it was controversial, despite the fact that the whole issue of marijuana and whatnot is going through the courts and being very much in the public debate right now, and has been for a while, and it's much more lenient in Canada overall, the issue is a lot less of a hot issue. But radio is chicken shit, and they took it to be whatever they took it to be. But no, they didn't play it in the way that we thought they should have and hoped they would have. Instead it was the next single that they went on.
PM: Which was?
CL: Which was "Had Enough of You Today," which in rock radio was a top ten.
TW: It was a huge record.
SF: Yeah, it was a good record for us.
CL: Bigger than we've ever had.
PM: "Had Enough of You Today" was a huge song... That was a good song, but who would have thought that.
CL: Tom is known to rock radio already, right? He's probably had a dozen top ten records in Canada.
PM: With Junkhouse?
CL: With Junkhouse and on his own. From Planet Love, the single, "Dig It," was probably a top five record in Canada.
PM: Was that your biggest song?
TW: No, I just had one called "Shine" with Junkhouse that did well.
SF: "Out of My Head."
TW: "Out of My Head" did well all around the world except for the U.S. They're so mean to me.
PM: [laughs] Yeah, well they're so mean to everybody.
TW: So that's done pretty well.
PM: So yeah, I'm not up to speed on Junkhouse yet, but I'm about to be.
TW: Well, they're done.
PM: I know, but I mean the past records.
TW: Yeah. They put out three albums. It was a rock band around the time of the Seattle alternative scene, and it was everything but an alternative band. We looked more like the road crew than we did the band.
TW: And so we didn't really fit into the mold. And literally, we'd tour in Europe and we'd show up and they'd say, "Okay, just bring the stuff in." And I'd say, "Well, we just came in for a beer. We're not the crew." And the crew were all like these skinny little guys.
SF: Who are now actually all rock stars, right?
TW: Yes, that's true.
PM: Are they?
SF: I'm lying to you, Frank. continue