iNTERVIEW: Crash Test Dummies

(June 1991) The band first began to achieve commercial success in Canada with the release of The Ghosts that Haunt Me in 1991. The album eventually reached sales of 400,000 in Canada, largely due to the popularity of the hit single “Superman’s Song”, which appeared on the RPM Top Singles chart that year, featured on the soundtrack of an episode of the TV series “Due South” and earned the band the 1992 Juno Award for Group of the Year. I spoke with Brad Roberts, the voice behind the sound, about the band’s success…

By Michael Bell

MB: How is the album and career going?
BR: Sales are much more significant than we ever expected, that’s for sure. I went into this thing thinking we might go gold at best, and here we are triple platinum. So that’s been a pleasant surprise.
MB: So you have distribution in the States?
BR: Yes we do and we’ve sold about 120,000 copies. We have good strong markets in a lot of areas down there. We toured there recently for a couple of months.
MB: Eastern seaboard?
BR: Yeah, and the mid-west and the west coast, New Orleans and some of the southern states as well.
MB: Are you finding it hard to get attention in the states?
BR: Yeah, but we happen to have a company that really got behind the Superman Song and really went for it with radio, and it helped a great deal. We’re very popular in Philadelphia and Minneapolis, and WNEW in New York City played Superman Song quite a lot, and the mid-west, we have quite strong sales there. We have odd pockets popping up here and there. Reno Nevada, there’s a radio station there that plays the hell out of us, so we could probably go there and do a gig anytime, and do pretty well.
MB: When you wrote the Superman Song, did you think it was going to be the big hit that it was?
BR: When I was writing it wasn’t even from being in a band with this kind of situation in mind. I was writing for myself mainly at that point.
MB: So how did it happen?
BR: The Crash Test Dummies had been together for a long time but we weren’t writing any original material, we were playing for recreational purposes. When it came down to writing some originals eventually, or when I became interested in the idea of writing some originals, I made a demo tape which I put in the hands of some major labels and we got signed with me not even really aiming at that. It fell into our laps. We were very lucky. So we changed our priorities and decided to do this for a living.
MB: Has coming from Winnipeg been a problem? It seems like an unlikely place to make it from.
BR: You know, Winnipeg does really have strong local music scene. There are a number of clubs that encourage original music. It’s not some top 40 cover band wasteland, by any stretch of the imagination. If you’re not into hockey what else can you do but start a garage band when you’re a teenager. It’s not like there’s a hell of a lot else to do through the winter months.