The Hip In “View Mag”

From by Adam Grant


The Tragically Hip are known for many things. They are that one Canadian band that rarely ceases to sell out arenas and concert halls in their homeland, they consistently manage to release records that feature new Can–con radio staple songs, and they are the object of affection from their devoted fan base (“Hip Heads”), who’ve been known to give opening acts a hard time in hopes of seeing their heroes sooner. Perhaps though, the greatest thing they’re known for is their collective history. Having jump started themselves back in 1983, The Hip, Gord Downie (vocals, guitar), Paul Langlois (guitar), Rob Baker (guitar), Gord Sinclair (bass), and Johnny Fay (drums), have become one of Canada’s most celebrated bands with the trophies, national accolades and hall of fame memberships to prove it. On top of all of this, Universal Music put forth the quintet’s box set Hipeponymous in 2005, which usually means one of two things, the band is either on its way out, or just beginning a new phase in their existence.

With the 2006 album World Container, the latter looks to make more sense. Not only has The Hip made a mighty statement beyond the box set, but they have made a mighty statement in regard to where their career is heading. This didn’t happen by accident of course, and required work with world renowned Canadian album producer Bob Rock (Metallica, Bon Jovi, Motley Crue) to take The Hip to another level. “He always thought that our records just fell short of our live show and he wanted to help us with that,” explains Fay when discussing Bob Rock’s initial perspective of The Hip’s recording capabilities.

“Our live show is what we do, we play way more live than we do in the studio, so it totally makes sense. We’re not that incredible in the studio. (But) I don’t think that we have red light fever. Being in the studio we get better and better at it, but it’s not where we really shine,” he continues. “What (Rock) did was keep it far more live than we have been in the last couple of years. With the introduction of Pro Tools it’s very editing based) and you can really get bogged down by that, then all of a sudden you do have a studio record and how can you ever measure up live?”

With said issues on everyone’s mind during the making of World Container, the finished product accurately reflects what The Hip does best, perform solid rock songs. Yes the writing is still there, but the performance of album opener “Yer Not the Ocean,” as well as subsequent singles “In View,” and “The Lonely End of the Rink,” showcase a band that is taking its live strengths and finding a way to translate them in a recording room, without any apparent roadblocks.

So when specifically looking back at the Toronto, Vancouver and Hawaii based sessions that led The Hip to an album such as this one, Fay can’t help but constantly praise the role of Rock, who not only helped expand the band’s talents, but “didn’t really screw around too much with the band dynamic.” Furthermore, what really hit Fay hard in a complimentary way, was Rock’s declaration that World Container is the “great Canadian album,” he’d always been looking to participate in, as well as the overwhelming dedication the producer demonstrated when working with the band during a real life changing occurrence. “His father passed away while we were making the record and you think about everything that he’s achieved. He came in after the service and listened to four hours of me and another guy hitting the drums just to get the sound right. He had committed to us that he was going to help us make this record,” praises Fay. “He was really there for us, and going through that was a very tough time. His dad was sick for awhile and (Rock) completely blew our minds by how devoted he was to the album.

He works with Metallica, he sells 30 million records, but he says that this is one of his happiest experiences. That’s very cool.”