New Jersey Record article

New Jersey Record

Friday, April 20, 2007

Mug shots, he confides. Gord Sinclair is getting mug shots taken.

Sinclair is not at a police station. And he doesn’t really mean mug shots. He is busy posing for ID photos for The Tragically Hip’s upcoming trip to the Cayman Islands.

If you do not recognize the face in the photos, don’t be alarmed. Most Americans wouldn’t. The Tragically Hip (or simply “The Hip,” as they’ve come to be known) have always had far more popularity north of the border.

“It was a little mysterious when we were around our second, third or fourth record,” Sinclair said during a recent phone interview. “We were still with Universal at the time, MCA in the States. They were pulling out a lot of stops, trying to run us up the media flagpole. It never seemed to take off. You kind of learn not to get frustrated with it. The road is littered with media casualties.”

The Kingston, Ontario-based band is not one of those casualties.

Stars up there, familiar down here, The Hip are popping by for two sold-out shows at Fillmore New York at Irving Plaza on Tuesday and Wednesday. The group’s new album, “World Container,” is a socially conscious offering, but Sinclair doesn’t think it’s any more socially aware than previous Hip albums.

“I think there’s always been a social consciousness to what [Hip frontman Gordon Downie] writes,” Sinclair, the band’s bassist, said. “Over the last three or four years, if you weren’t aware of your relationship to where you live and your planet and your environment and who you are, you certainly would be now. It’s become such a huge concern for everybody that, God, even politicians are beginning to talk about it.”

No song personifies that ideal more than the title track, the final song on the album.

There’s a world container with your name on it

And a billion ways to go berserk

When the country quits on you it must be dinner

And the Himmler on this one is there’s no dessert

(He’s the one who couldn’t imagine all the people living life in peace).

“It’s actually one of my favorite songs to play live now,” Sinclair said. “We ended up using the title of the song as the title of the record because it encapsulated loose themes that [are] running [through the album].”

Reaching for a singular theme that connects the 11 tracks, Sinclair zeroes in on love.

“When it comes time to start writing for a record,” Sinclair said, “we literally sit around in a circle, and take turns throwing out ideas.”

What they came up with this time around was an album of love and maturity, an album tweaked by former Metallica producer Bob Rock.

It is an album Canadians love, an album some Americans love, too.

Copyright © 2007 North Jersey Media Group Inc.