FIVE THINGS: About the Tragically Hip

FIVE THINGS: About the Tragically Hip

April 12, 2007

Canadian rockers the Tragically Hip will be at the State Theatre in Detroit tonight and Friday. Doors open at 6:30, and maple leaf attire is welcome.


The name comes from a skit in Michael Nesmith’s “Elephant Parts,” and the band formed in Kingston, Ontario, in 1983. Vocalist Gord Downie, guitarists Paul Langlois and Rob Baker, bassist Gord Sinclair and drummer Johnny Fay were childhood buddies. The band is egalitarian: Everyone makes the same amount of money, and nobody’s in a position to fire anyone.

The Hip is huge in Canada, with a whole slew of Juno Awards. It’s in the Canadian Hall of Fame and has a star on the Canadian Walk of Fame in Toronto.

Fellow Canadian Dan Aykroyd is a fan and got the guys a guest spot on “Saturday Night Live” in 1995.

They love hockey and often reference it in songs.


The band has a legion of dedicated fans called Hip heads. Some travel from show to show. The double disc “Yer Favourites” was so named because the fans voted on what songs they wanted.

Fans can post stories, called the Hip Story Project, online at


The 1998 album “Live Between Us” was recorded at Cobo Arena.

“We wanted to do an album that really represented us live — no cutting, overdubs,” said drummer Fay. “We wanted it completely authentic and the best night we played was in Detroit, which was funny because it was our official Canadian tour.

“I grew up listening to Yes, and they did two records at Cobo. And, of course, Kiss did one. When you’re onstage you play better in certain rooms, and Cobo is like that.”


“World Container,” released in the States last month, was produced by Bob Rock, who produced Metallica and glam rockers Mötley Crüe. It was recorded in Toronto, Vancouver and Hawaii, where Rock lives.

“He did a great job of capturing the live band sound,” Fay said. “We really enjoyed working with Bob. He’s very grounded, always listened to what we had to say. He was a great coach on the drums.”


Fay says the band will play stuff off the new album and some old favorites. The set lists for the tour are on the band’s Web site, and new songs “In View,” “The Lonely End of the Rink” and “Yer Not the Ocean” show up frequently. For old songs, there’s “Grace, Too,” “New Orleans Is Sinking” — written a decade ago — “Scared” and “Fully Completely.”

A hallmark of Hip shows is Downie’s rapid, evocative stream-of-consciousness monologues. Sometimes they become lyrics for future songs. The guy has a way with words — his son’s name is Tarzan.

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