A Conversation with Travis Good of The Sadies
Puremusic: Hey, Travis, this is Frank Goodman from Puremusic calling.
Travis Good: Hey, man, how are you?
PM: I'm fine. How's it going today?
TG: It's going good. It's a beautiful day up here. Indian summer.
PM: Ah. Today is the first day of autumn, right?
TG: Oh, is it? I didn't even know that. It's almost 80 degrees here.
PM: How far outside Toronto are you?
TG: I'm two hours.
PM: Nice. That's far enough.
TG: It's perfect. I can get there when I need to.
PM: So what kind of life do you live out there on the farm when you're home? What's it about?
TG: Oh, playing guitar.
TG: I've got a trailer out back with a little studio in it and all of our gear.
PM: Nice. What kind of recording set up do you have out in the trailer?
TG: Just an eight track, an old Teac cassette.
PM: Yeah. They don't break, I love them. So, man, I saw you with the Jayhawks in Nashville last year. That was a fantastic show.
TG: Oh, thank you.
PM: It really, really stuck with me, and I reviewed Stories Often Told after that. When Angie at YepRoc sent me Favourite Colours, I thought it was even better.
TG: Oh, you've heard that record. Good.
PM: Yeah, Favourite Colours is remarkable.
TG: Thanks a lot.
PM: One is led to believe that it was somehow achieved in the midst of touring.
TG: It got started on that tour you saw us on, actually. Was it that tour? I believe it was. We started in Tucson on tour, and then we went back and finished it off at home.
PM: Two of the three studios were in Canada, one up at the farm of Greg Keelor, where you've worked before, I believe.
TG: Oh, yeah, lots of times.
PM: What does Greg play in Blue Rodeo?
TG: He sings and plays guitar.
PM: I haven't covered them yet. I've got to catch up with them. But it is Canadian week. I was with Blackie and the Rodeo Kings last night.
TG: Oh, really?
PM: Yeah. Down the street at Joe's Pub. I'm in New York City at the moment, and have been spending the summer in Soho. So how did you come to do the first session for Favourite Colours in Tucson? Do you have friends down there?
TG: Yeah, Dallas did a record down there, maybe a year or two ago, with Neko Case. That's probably the first introduction Dallas had to Craig Shumacher in that studio [The Wavelab] and everything. And yeah, he came out to a couple shows, that was pretty much the first time I met him. And I've been friends with Calexico for a while, and they make their records there.
PM: Oh, I saw them in New York this summer. They're unbelievable.
TG: They are unbelievable.
PM: My brother lives in Germany. He says they're very big over there.
TG: Their rhythm section is from there.
PM: Ah, that's the deal. Okay. Have you guys played Europe outside the UK?
TG: We did one tour of Holland.
PM: And you're about to go again, right?
TG: On Monday. We're gone for a month, throughout October. I've been to Holland about 15 times, because I used to tour there with my dad's band.
PM: Oh, really?
TG: Yeah. He plays in a country and bluegrass band. They're called The Good Brothers, my two uncles and my dad.
PM: When I was interviewing the guys in Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, I said I was going to talk to the Sadies and they said to say hi. They mentioned that your family had gotten inducted. into the Country Hall of Fame.
TG: They played that, actually.
PM: Yeah. Pretty cool. So what about the places that you recorded aside from Tuscon?
TG: One was Blue Rodeo's studio [The Woodshed] in the city. The other place was Greg Keelor's farm, with a one-inch reel-to-reel eight-track.
PM: Wow, that's fat. So what songs did you record on the eight-track? Do you wait for analog to do the instrumentals, or you just do them how they're happening?
TG: We do them how they're happening. But the whole thing was recorded on analog. Everything went to tape. Everything.
PM: Everywhere. Are you guys sticklers for that?
TG: Yeah, yeah. Neko is a real stickler for that. We just did a live record with her, and she spent way more than she had to on tapes, man. She recorded nine nights of shows all on tape.
PM: Thousands of dollars!
TG: The reels alone are thousands.
PM: Yo. And who did the taping of all those shows?
TG: This guy from Toronto, Doug McClennan. He was great. He owns a mobile unit.
PM: And is the live Neko record great?
TG: I quite like it, yeah. I mean, I really liked doing it. I've always wanted to do a live record, so it was really cool.
PM: I only got to see her one time, at the Slow Bar in Nashville. And it was the end of the night, it was like 12:30, and they were still charging ten bucks. I said, "Okay. Here's the ten bucks, jeez, you blood suckers." And I went in, and she sang one song.
PM: And I thought, "That was totally worth the ten bucks. I don't give a shit. That song was so frickin' good, I would have paid twenty bucks!"
TG: I was just going to say, Neko doesn't play too, too late, usually. 12:30 is pretty much the cutoff point, I think, for paying a cover charge.
PM: Yeah, but that was the best ten-buck song I ever heard.
TG: I paid ten bucks one time after last call, in Toronto about 15 years ago, to see Johnny Thunders [the seminal punk guitar icon]. It was ten past, and they said, "Oh, it's a ten dollar cover charge." And I was like, "Man, you guys are closed now." And they're like, "No, he still hasn't gone on. He just arrived."
PM: [laughs] He hadn't gone on!
TG: And they said, "And we promise you for last call you can order up to six beers, and we'll give you a full hour to drink them." And so I was like, "Okay."
PM: My brother Billy, the singer songwriter in Germany, was very good friends with Thunders in his last days.
TG: Oh, really?
PM: He said Thunders [laughs] would tell him, "You got to have the beauty--and the terror..."
PM: He said to Billy, "You got the beauty, but you don't have the terror."
TG: Words to live by. continue