Tragically Hip Kicks Off ‘Same’ Tour

Inspired by the wide sonic sweep of its new album, “We Are the Same,” the Tragically Hip plans to play a lot of music during its upcoming North American tour, which starts today (April 27) in Kitchener, Ont., and currently has dates booked into September.

Frontman Gordon Downie tells that the Canadian quintet plans to play lengthy shows with an intermission. “We did that once, about 10 years ago,” he recalls. “I think we decided with this (album), we needed to do something where we could expand the margins and really work on the dynamics, from a pindrop to blow the doors off.”

He says the Hip’s audiences can expect “lots of songs” from the new album but also a generous selection of older music to provide context for the fresh material. “I just think our list of songs has grown to the point where we need to incorporate a lot of songs from our past,” Downey explains. “We’ve been rehearsing pretty hard; we’ve got 90-odd songs we’re going to touch on at least once [during the tour]. So hopefully it’ll keep people on their toes a little bit. It definitely keeps us on our toes. We just want to do something different, somehow, and that’s what we’re doing.”

The presence of an extra utility musician, playing keyboards and providing background vocals, will also help the Hip “touch a lot on the rest of our sound,” according to Downey. “It’s making a lot of songs sound brand new again. Like ‘Gift Shop;’ there’s an intro to that that’s pretty atmospheric that we couldn’t really touch before. It’s certainly making us better, ultimately, all the way across.”

Downey says the band will likely document the tour in some way, either by recording or filming, though he notes that promotional activities such as a closed-circuit movie theater broadcast in Canada and a series of short films on the Hip’s official web site “command all my psychic energy. But I imagine we will be doing something over the next 10 months.”

“We Are the Same’s” 12 songs were culled from roughly 40 ideas the Hip came up with and pored over with producer Bob Rock. But Downey isn’t sure what will come up with the unused material.

“Ultimately you always vow you’ll put them on the next record, but you never do,” he says with a laugh. “When you start winnowing them for [the album] you don’t work on the other ones much, so they stay in an uncompleted state as you move forward with the ones you’re interested in. They all have titles. They have melodies. They’re still there, but what we’ll do with them I can’t say.”