Twenty years and eight Junos later, The Good Brothers are still at it. Their big hit “Fox on the Run” and endless touring have established them as true Canadian country superstars. I spoke with Bruce about being a Good and having his his son Travis in the band….
Mb: Hey Bruce. So where have you been playing lately?
Bruce: We’ve just come from playing up North. Timmins, Iroquios Falls, Sudbury, all that neck of the woods.
Mb: Is it bug infested up there yet?
Bruce: (laughs) They aren’t too bad yet, but it’s getting close.
Mb: Run from the gig to the car? So where are you going next?
Bruce: Well, after we play Peterborough, we are getting ready to take-off for an extensive tour of Western Canada that will take us all points west of Toronto. We’ll be out there for about 2 months.
Mb: Do you play the Stampede?
Bruce: Yeah exactly. We will be at the Calgary Stampede and Klondike Days in Edmonton. We will be in Vancouver for awhile and Red Deer at the exhibition there. Being Canadian you play a lot of different venues. One night you may find yourself in a 250 seat saloon somewhere, and the next day you may find yourself at a festival playing for 30,000 people. Making a living in Canada in the music business is doing all of the venues.
Mb: And you guys have been making a living for a long time.
Bruce: About 20 years, and you know, no regrets.
Mb: What’s it like traveling with you are brothers?
Bruce: It’s been great. The first 17 years of it was all with the three brothers and now the past 3 years there has been a different twist because our younger brother left the band and my son joined the group. So now I’ve got my son on the road with me, and that to me has been like a resurgence of energy for me. It’s sort of like being refueled. Now I can look at the program not as “What does this mean to me?” I’m looking at it as “What does it mean to him?” It gives me a new found energy and I want to get out and do these things. If for no other reason than, to instill those things into my son. His name is Travis by the way. Travis plays lead guitar and mandolin and vocals.
Mb: Is he injecting new musical ideas as well?
Bruce: He brings in a rock angle to our music, although there has always been a rock influence in the music that we’ve played. But this time it’s coming from one of the brothers or should I say one of the family . Prior to that we had guitar players like Danny McBride who is now playing with Chris De Burgh. We always had side musicians that always added that rock taste. Travis has been involved in some writing with his uncle Brian and myself.
Mb: So you’re working on new material? Recording?
Bruce: Exactly. We were hoping to have an album for release to coincide with the departure of this tour. Unfortunately, that ain’t going to happen. Were looking at September in the studio recording and we’re looking at a January release.
Mb: Do you like recording?
Bruce: Yeah I do. It gives you all a chance to develop new songs. We like to concentrate on as many original tunes as possible when we’re in the studio. Although I can tell you that this next album will not be a 100% Good Brothers composition. It also helps you for touring. It’s sort of a double bladed ax. The record helps you to tour and the tour hopes you record. They both go hand-in-hand. It’s an important process if you’re going to make any long stay in this music business.
Mb: What do you like best? The live or the studio?
Bruce: Personally, I like the live. You’ll get a split down the middle if you ask other musicians. Some say they like the live, and others say they’d rather spend a year in the studio. I like getting out there with the people. I like doing the songs on stage.
Mb: What about the time you hated live? The time you hated that gig.
Bruce: We’ve certainly been through that period. We’ve been to a point where, we’re looking at our watches saying “Oh my God! When is this going to end?”
Mb: What would make you think that?
Bruce: Little things. To most people they are just little things, like a cold. A cold can make a night very long. It’s one thing if I was driving a taxi or was working in an office and I had the sniffles, but you have to get up there and sing and often it’s in a smokey saloon somewhere. By the time you get into the second show you can barely talk, but you still have to get up there and pull your weight. The one thing I’ve found with my brothers, and with my son over the past three years is that you don’t get off the hook very easy here. If you have a little cold they don’t look at you and say “You don’t have to sing tonight.” They expect you to pull your weight so you always do.
Mb: What about that one gig you get booked into, and you weren’t meant to play this room; the industrial thrash club.
Bruce: Well it just happened! It wasn’t an industrial thrash clubs but we did a festival down near Tweed a place called Trudeau Park. We’ve been playing for Kevin down there for almost 20 years. The first time he hired us was about 16 or 17 years ago. Traditionally he’s always had us on the show. He just wanted to do it for a couple of reasons. We appeal to the other side of the people who come to camp. They’re just not metal people that come to camp on the weekend and because he likes to do it for old time sake. Just to have the Goods on the bill. We played there, I guess it was the Victoria day weekend and we closed the show. The acts that went on before us was teenage Head and Slik Toxic. (laughs) Do you know these acts? It was a little tense there. i thought, “Oh my Goodness. There probably won’t be anyone out there by the time we get on!” But everyone stayed and in fact more people came from their tents who I guess weren’t really into the heavy metal or the head-banging stuff. Surprisingly it worked out just fantastic. We got a couple of encores! Everybody really got into the show.
Mb: You’re playing the Havelock Jamboree this summer.
Bruce: Yeah we were there last year, and this year we’ll be there for two days.
Mb: That’s a “Good” gig!
Bruce: Yeah it really is. They’re really nice folks down there. They’ve got things well organized. If the numbers they had last year will increase this year they’re going to be in for a really big crowd this year.
Mb: Cool. Anything else you want to plug?
Bruce: After we get home from out west, we leave for Europe and will be gone for about a full month. We do a lot of work in Europe now.
Mb: Do you play any really amazing rooms in Europe?
Bruce: All of the rooms over there are amazing. They are quite different. They are not like the bars we have here. They are almost concert settings. They range from 400 seats to 1200 seats. When we go out west, and I tell you we play a lot of places 250 seats, they’ve got a law out there a law out there for the clubs that they can’t have any more than that or they need special license.
Mb: The Trentwinds Ballroom where you’re playing this Friday is 1000 seater and a beautiful room.
Bruce: I know that room.
Mb: My wife and I met at a Good Brothers dance in that very ballroom nine years ago.
Bruce: I remember that gig! And you didn’t even invite us to the wedding! (laughs) We haven’t done very many weddings or bar mitzvahs!