It’s been a whirlwind couple of decades for Alberta rancher Corb Lund. With 9 albums in his pocket, Corb and his Hurtin’ Albertans have been touring hard, infecting crowds in Europe, US and right across Canada. His latest CD, released last year, is the follow up of the wildly successful Cabin Fever, which debuted at number 1 on the Billboard Canadian Albums Chart in 2012. A multi award winner, Corb displays a Juno, CMMA or two, a couple of gold records and countless nominations here at home and abroad. Corb will be pulling the band into The Venue this month to sing the songs that have garnered him such attention. I caught up with him by phone. Not one to talk much about his music, ask him about politics and….
Mb: So guessing by the phone number, you’re out west right now?
Corb: Ya, I’m in southern Alberta. Home, briefly…
Mb: I see this tour has taken you all over the place.. Europe, the US… good to be home for 20 minutes?
Corb: Ya, that’s about the size of it!
Mb: How’s the tour been so far?
Corb: Good, I think we’ve got.. we usually play Canada after we’ve been out for a couple of months. People get used to hearing it, so we did overseas first. We’ve been going pretty hard already.
Mb: So we’ve interviewed you a few times over the years, and I can’t help but think you’re a pretty politically opinionated guy… lots of opinions yes?
Corb: You know I really didn’t think I did, but you say that. What are you thinking of when you say that?
Mb: Well, tell me how you’re liking the new Alberta?
Corb: It’s too early to tell. It’s one of things about, ideology aside, it’s one of the things about having the same government in power for some 40+ years and when a new government comes in they don’t have any experience with the levers of power. So aside from ideology or policy even, sometimes it’s a little… they aren’t used to running things. There’s been a little of that for sure. And I don’t know, I’m not in favour of deficit spending and all political parties seem to do that. So to the extent that our government is into deficit spending, I’m not in favour of that, but the PC’s did it too.
Mb: And Alberta is getting hit hard right now. They might not get any equilisation payments, though they will be paying.
Corb: This is the thing, it’s a double edged sword. I know there’s been resentment about Alberta. From the figures I’ve seen, our transfer payments have roughly equalled the cost of our National Healthcare bill so… if those payments stop then it won’t just be Alberta feeling that, it will be the whole country. Having said that, Alberta did not manage the economy well over the last 30 years. We should be like Norway and have a trillion dollar investment fund somewhere like Norway does, but we don’t.
Mb: Are you seeing the results of tanking oil? Houses for sale? Abandon cars at the airport?
Corb: Some what. I don’t really live in the heart of it… I live in Lethbridge, southern Alberta so it’s more of an agricultural community. I know my brother, who’s a rig manager, isn’t working. It’s interesting, because in the big picture I don’t know where it’s going. There’s been a number of oil booms and busts but this time it seems like this time it might not come back.
Mb: Might really be time to invest in green energy out there.
Corb: Ya it’s funny cause I’m a realist about it. We all use petroleum, I think. And we’re all complicate of it in the western world, we all use the stuff, but i think eventually it makes sense that humans will move from animal power to steam power to petroleum to something else. At some point you have to. About 10 years ago when Ralph Kline and the Alberta government gave everyone a cheque for 400$, before they did that they sent out a survey and my answer was take that money and invest it in infrastructure and research and development and invest in alternative energy. Even back then I knew it was a finite resource. I’ve been on that train for a long time. But I’m not someone who is going to sit here and vilify the guys who are working in the oil patch by any means. We have to drill it and the whole world uses it, including us. But I think there’s a time it makes sense to look at other things.
Mb: Coming from a ranching background, you must have always had concerned about the toxicity and contaminating the ground water.
Corb: Ya there’s always been some tension between land owners and oil and gas, because in Canada we don’t own the minerals, the Crown does so we have no say in it if the government is going to let oil companies come in and drill on your land it’s very difficult to stop them.
Mb: Great segue to talk about your new CD “things That Can’t Be Undone” and speaking of oil, I see it has been released on vinyl.
Corb: We’ve put the last 5 or 6 out on vinyl.
Mb: I get the feeling lyrically this CD is about loss. There’s even a mention of an old Berlin tavern torn down to make way for something new. Metaphor?
Corb: It’s indicative of how things are going in the world. I have a good friend over there and I played in that little pub a lot.
Mb: Is berlin a good market for Country?
Corb: No. But there’s lots of stuff. It’s sort of the Brooklyn of Europe. I like going to interesting places. I don’t normally go to the country… sometimes to a ranch.
Mb: Favourite places?
Corb: I like Ireland a lot… and Montreal is a fun city. I tour so much now my idea of a vacation is sitting home with my buddies. Sometimes it’s nice to stay home for a while. But I’m excited to play the tunes for you in Peterborough. Come on down and drink some beer with us.