The Sadies – “You’re going to jail with no fucking teeth!”

Apr 8 • By • 1862 Views • 3 Comments on The Sadies – “You’re going to jail with no fucking teeth!” 2015, BS, EDITORS´ PICKS, Features, Interviews, Issue 39 // April 2015, Upcoming Shows Tagged with •

Dallas Good of The Sadies, Canada’s finest band since The Band, talks to Bad Sounds about threatening bouncers, broken bones, working with Neil Young, Garth Hudson and Jon Spencer, the influence of Lenny Kaye and taking 41 years to make an album with his family.
Cover photo: The Sadies, Hulen, Bergen, 2011
Words and photos by Don Simon.

Dallas Good of The Sadies at Bukta 09, Tromsø

Dallas Good of The Sadies at Bukta 09, Tromsø

It’s Edinburgh early last decade, and Jon Langford of The Mekons is in town with his outfit the Waco Brothers, as well as a band from Canada called The Sadies, who turn out to be the highlight of the night. They do a great line in psychedelic rock and outlaw country, as well as some tremendous spaghetti western instrumentals – which is kind of ironic, because halfway through the Waco Brothers’ set, the venue almost literally turns into the wild west.

A drunken fan who knows every word to every Waco Brothers song lies on a foldback speaker at the front of the stage, beer bottle raised in salute. The soundman, fearing for the integrity of his equipment, instructs a hulking bouncer to eject the guy. As he attempts to do so, the band stop. Several members insist the drunk is harmless, and tell the bouncer the guy should be allowed to stay. Said bouncer erupts in roid rage, immediately calling a halt to the gig.

Travis Good, guitarist with The Sadies, is playing violin with the Wacos and makes an appeal for common sense. The bouncer grabs the violin – which has been in the Good family for generations – and threatens to smash it over the musician’s bewildered head. No more songs are forthcoming. As far as introductions to a band go, it was a pretty memorable night – especially because even these events couldn’t overshadow The Sadies’ brilliant support set. They made many new fans.

Fast forward to April 2015, and The Sadies are about to embark on a Scandinavian tour, their first in four years. They’re playing Oslo at Vulkan Arena on April 25, so Bad Sounds spoke to The Sadies’ singer/songwriter/guitarist Dallas Good (brother of the aforementioned Travis) as the band prepared to leave Canada. It seemed only fitting to mention the first time I’d seen the group live, on that night in Scotland when things got out of hand.

“Hooooly shit, I can’t believe you were at that show!” Dallas says. “Wow, that was insane. Part of the show that nobody is aware of is that I was able to find a very small quantity of terrible weed, and I was backstage preparing the joint before all that happened – I probably shouldn’t be saying this, because I know there’s fairly stringent laws in Norway. But anyway, this bouncer came back and grabbed me by the throat and picked me up. I said, ‘I’m in the band! I’m in the band!’ and he said, ‘You’re going to jail with no fucking teeth!’, as he’s holding me pinned to the wall. And then all hell breaks loose 15 minutes later. I’m glad you got to experience that total fucking freakshow.”

The last time The Sadies played in Oslo in May 2011, Dallas hobbled on stage leaning on a crutch, with a cast on one leg. Despite his lack of mobility, the band played a great set at John Dee. It turns out he had slipped on ice and broken a leg several months before – an experience plenty of Norwegians can relate to.

“It was total breaks of both bones, tib and fib, so I have big old plates running through them now that are fine. I’m back to about 85% and still kicking ass,” he laughs. “It was one of the most surprisingly life-affecting things I’ve been through. It happened on a tour of Canada, so that tour was cancelled, and because of the nature of the break I wasn’t able to put any weight on it whatsoever for three months.

“So the Scandinavian tour was the first shows I was able to do with just an air cast and a crutch instead of being totally immobile. It changed the pace The Sadies had been on for a long time, and it made the Darker Circles album (2010) very difficult for us to promote. Subsequently, it was great that we were able to save the Scandinavian tour. They were the first and only shows we were able to do for that record. It was a long, slow recovery. I would say that Scandinavia became the guinea pigs for my handicapped performances, but I had a great time – they were a little bit cloudy from the super-strong painkillers that I was on at the time, but I’m better now.”

The experience of the leg-break and lengthy recuperation came through in many of Dallas’ lyrics for 2013’s Internal Sounds, The Sadies’ eighth album.

“The cover of the album is actually my X-ray. If you look closely you can see both the bones going in different directions,” he explains. “And the ‘internal sound’ is the sound of my bones breaking in my body, it was kind of like a – ” he makes a sound like a champagne cork popping. “It’s hard to explain. Forgive me, I have a morbid side, obviously. I can’t help but joke about it now.”

A ninth Sadies album is currently being written, but the good news is that there will be a new release of old material, covering the band’s whole history, available at the shows in Scandinavia.

“I’ve put together a collection of outtakes and oddities and rarities and radio stuff that we’ve compiled over the last 20 years,” Dallas says. “It’s mostly unreleased, with the exception of a few songs that have been remastered from early 45s, and some of it was on radio. We haven’t even seen the finished product, but it will be waiting for us when we get to Scandinavia. So I’m excited about that – 20 years in the making!
“Over the last few months that has been more of my focus than writing new material. But after talking with Travis a few days ago, I think we’re at least halfway done writing the new record. So if all goes well we should have something out this year – very worst scenario early next year.”

The Sadies at Bukta 09, Tromsø - left to right: Travis Good, Sean Dean, Mike Belitsky and Dallas Good

The Sadies at Bukta 09, Tromsø – left to right: Travis Good, Sean Dean, Mike Belitsky and Dallas Good

Despite the wealth of superb material The Sadies have written themselves, they still like to throw in covers of psychedelic Sixties rock when they play live. Recently the band got to thank one of Dallas’ all-time heroes, Lenny Kaye (the Patti Smith Group‘s guitarist from 1974 to the present) in fine style.

“I’m a BIG fan of Sixties music, especially the more garage/underground stuff. Nuggets and Pebbles, that’s my favourite jukebox right there,” Dallas says. “I just love playing that music. We certainly make a point of introducing as many new covers to the set as we can for the sake of keeping it interesting and making it clear where our love lies.

“A little while ago we were asked to play a Jim Jarmusch film party. Lenny Kaye was peforming in Toronto that night with Patti Smith, and he ended up coming to the party. When we saw him, we went into a bunch of songs that basically he had turned me on to. Watching him dancing front-row centre, with Jim Jarmusch and a bunch of other people, was a highlight of my life for sure, and a great way to sort of pat the back of the man who taught me all that stuff. That was really cool.”

Over the years The Sadies have backed up and played with an incredible array of musicians, either on record or on stage. They have recorded and toured with Neko Case, The Mekons’ Jon Langford, Andre Williams (the original Mr Shake a Tailfeather), Jon Spencer, John Doe (of X fame) and Gord Downie of The Tragically Hip, to name a few.

“It has brought MANY different dimensions to the band,” Dallas says. “It’s been the best thing that could have happened to us, for sure. Just being able to have that much experience, and exposure to so many incredible artists, but also to be exposed to their specific brand or style of music. Of the people you mention, to play with Andre Williams – that, I think, takes a lot of responsibility, because nobody wants to see Andre backed by The Commitments or whatever. If you don’t bring soul into the project, the project is lost. In our case, we were lucky because Andre was wanting to focus more on a country & western direction, at least on the first album, and we became friends. Just like I totally adore Jon Spencer and everything he has done, we were very fortunate to have worked with him when he was working with more of a rockabilly sound. That lent itself to us, and gave us a chance to focus on rockabilly too for a while, behind someone that we adore. But had we been asked to be the Blues Explosion for a tour, that wouldn’t have gone so well! We would have said yes, but y’know…

“This job is not demanding, as far as I’m concerned. I’m very fortunate – VERY fortunate – to be able to do what I do. The way I see it is, there’s a lot of time in the year. So if we’re able to make that work with other artists as well, it’s only going to help us in the long run, in terms of our sound and our practice and just working together. The band’s chemistry – it can’t work with us if we’re only functioning three months of the year.”

Another musician they have recorded and subsequently befriended is Garth Hudson, the legendary keyboard player from The Band. Hudson joined Robbie Robertson, Rick Danko, Richard Manuel and Levon Helm in 1961 in The Hawks, the backing band for Ronnie Hawkins. Hudson was famously only allowed to join the group on the condition that he be paid to teach his bandmates music – his family didn’t want him to squander the benefits of a formal musical education.

Hudson invited the The Sadies to take part in A Canadian Celebration of The Band, for which they recorded with Hudson and another Canadian musician by the name of Neil Young.

“We subsequently toured with Neil Young and Crazy Horse after that, which was incredible,” Dallas says. “But I can’t say enough about how great it is to work with Garth. He’s such a great friend, and such a great musician. He is not overestimated, let’s just say that. And his abilities as a teacher are remarkable. Those myths are not exaggerated about The Band and his role in it, based on my experiences anyhow.

“You know, Garth and Andre, they’re some of our elder statesmen, and I’m very fortunate to have any kind of connection with those people who are so wise beyond their years, even though they’re in their seventies. I do not take it for granted. I value my conversations with Garth, Andre, you name it, as much as I do the actual making of music.

“Also my brother is very, very good friends with Ronnie Hawkins, they hang out together all the time. They live basically next door to each other – which is like half an hour away, because they’re in the country.”

Travis Good of The Sadies, Edinburgh 2005

Travis Good of The Sadies, Edinburgh 2005

Dallas’ earliest influences and musical mentors were his own family. His father Bruce and uncle Larry Good played in the renowned bluegrass and country-folk band The Good Brothers. Along with his mother Margaret and cousin D’Arcy Good, and The Sadies’ rhythm section of Sean Dean (bass) and Mike Belitsky (drums), they all collaborated to produce the excellent Good Family Album in 2013.

“I didn’t totally gravitate towards country & western and bluegrass when I was young, but because my parents were hippies they were cool about getting punk rock records for Travis and myself when we were really little,” Dallas says. “That freedom of being able to pursue whatever music we liked has of course led my brother and me back full circle to the bluegrass and stuff that they turned us on to.”

So is another Good Family record planned?

“That record took me 41 years to make, almost! I would assume a second one will take probably half that time. We’ll try, for sure. The record label is interested and willing to do another one, and the shows have been great. The album really helped create a more disciplined schedule for us. We’re doing a dozen or so shows a year as opposed to the one or two it used to be, and it’s gotten to be so much fun. Our nerves have settled and we’ve developed a chemistry within our family [laughter], which results mostly in me and my father arguing on stage, but that’s fun too. So yes and no. Yes, there’s plans to make a new record, but the release date is so far out of sight that I couldn’t guess.”

The Sadies play Oslo’s Vulkan Arena on Saturday April 25. Their Scandinavian tour starts in Copenhagen on April 16, and stops in Göteborg (April 18), Stockholm (April 19) and Trondheim (April 24), among others. For a full list of dates and ticket info, go to here.

Dallas Good of The Sadies, John Dee, Oslo, 2011

Dallas Good of The Sadies, John Dee, Oslo, 2011

Comments

3 Responses to The Sadies – “You’re going to jail with no fucking teeth!”

  1. Ryan Kelly says:

    Thanks for this article! And thanks to the Sadies for such great music!

  2. Don Simon says:

    Thanks Ryan, I’m checking out Cowpuncher and really enjoying it. Anyone who covers The Skids (especially a Skids B-side!) is alright in my book!

  3. Hank says:

    Such a great band. I discovered them by accident when I decided to check out the Waco Brothers in philly many many moons ago.

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