BY Brent Hallenbeck GANNET NEWS SERVICE
Greater Niagara Newspapers
Why is it, Gord Sinclair, that The Tragically Hip is so popular around these parts?
Sinclair, the bandâ€™s bass player, says their roots in Kingston, Ontario, which is a little more than a dozen miles from Watertown, places The Tragically Hipâ€™s home base closer to a host of U.S. burgs than to Canadian cities. He also mentions their tendency to play sold-out shows in Vermont and their close proximity to New York.
When the bandâ€™s vocalist, Gordon Downie, sings about intrigue on the ice on â€œThe Lonely End of the Rinkâ€ from the bandâ€™s new album, â€œWorld Container,â€ fans in hockey-absorbed communities say, â€œI hear ya.â€
â€œWorld Containerâ€ is the 12th Tragically Hip album and they are currently touring nationwide through September. The band leaned on producer Bob Rock, who is known more for his work with hard rockers Metallica and Motley Crue and not so much with anthemic pop-rockers like The Tragically Hip.
â€œWhat he brought to us was a real focus on each individual song,â€ according to Sinclair, speaking recently by phone during a tour stop in Seattle. Rock helped refine the arrangement of â€œThe Lonely End of the Rink,â€ Sinclair says, turning the track into a Who/U2/Midnight Oil-styled rampage thatâ€™s one of the discâ€™s highlights. His contributions werenâ€™t all about frenzied moments, though; Sinclair says Rock also steered the band toward an elegant piano texture on the track â€œPretend.â€
â€œHe just has a really focused ear,â€ Sinclair says. â€œHe became the ersatz sixth member of the group.â€
Speaking of The Who, an obvious influence, The Tragically Hip recently played several opening dates for the legendary British rockers. The Tragically Hip have been around more than 20 years and the band members are in their 40s, but they still feel a rush of teenage hero worship around The Whoâ€™s Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend.
â€œItâ€™s impossible to divorce yourself from when youâ€™re 15 years old,â€ Sinclair says. â€œWe grew up with that group.â€
Opportunities like that make you a better band. You have to get up and you have to entertain these rabid Who fans,â€œ according to Sinclair. â€In terms of a dream come true, thatâ€™s right up there.”
The Tragically Hip might be aiming toward their own Who-like longevity. Itâ€™s already rare for a band to have the same five members it started out with more than two decades earlier. Sinclair says there are moments when they get together after time away and find themselves saying, â€How can we do this again?â€œ Yet they always manage.
â€Weâ€™ve grown up together, put the band together as young men doing this. Itâ€™s based around our friendship and the bond we have as a group. Itâ€™s a collective experience, a shared experience,â€œ Sinclair says.
â€It is a lifelong bond.â€œ