Interview: Travis Good of The Sadies


(November 2009) For those of you who don’t know the Sadies, it may be because they’ve been busy gathering fans in places far from here, or backing other performers,  playing just beyond the spotlight. The sons of Bruce Good of the Good Brothers, Travis and Dallas and their band have attracted the attention of audiences, producers, mega-stars and musical legends. From the likes of The Tragically Hip’s Gord Downie to R&B Motown icon Andre Williams to “The Band’s” legendary keyboardist and arranger Garth Husdon, The Sadies have been sought after for their unique sound and spirit. Capturing the momentum, they’ve spread their 9 (soon to be 10) CD’s across Europe and North America for the last 12 years. I spoke with Travis a few days after they’d returned from performing in Spain and we talked about horror films, dogs and walking with giants…

Mb: I heard you just got back from Spain. How was it?
TG: It was a really good tour. We did a week there and played with John Doe and it was good. The week before that we were in California for a week.
Mb: That’s two different crowds…
TG: Two different crowds but the landscape and the temperature were similar.
Mb: How are you received in Spain?
TG: It’s our 5th time we’ve toured Spain and it goes over really well. It’s a late crowd, which we like. Shows don’t get started there until quite late. No one eats until after 10 or 11 at night. Yeah, it’s great. Great food. Great wine… half of our last record was recorded in Spain. Our original connection then was… we went there to record because Gary Louris, who produced the last record, he has a place down there in Southern Spain and he found this really great studio in the town that he lives in, so we figured we’d go down there just to give it a shot, write songs and record… and if it didn’t go well at least we had a nice trip to Spain.
Mb: No kidding! And it worked out…
TG: It worked out well. We ended up signing to a Spanish label that distributes our records there, and they put together some tours.
Mb: You find any difference between playing a European audience and playing in North America?
TG: They don’t speak as much English in Europe! (laughs) They’re a little harder to understand some times.
Mb: So it sounds like you guys are playing a lot. How many dates a year are you doing?
TG: Well, we do a lot of dates but it’s just that we’re lucky that we get to back a lot of our friends and do a lot of side projects. That’s what really eats up a lot of the time. We do a lot of stuff with just The Sadies. But a lot of time when we have “downtime” we go on tour with someone else; John Doe or John Spencer. We’ve done work with Neko… we’ve got a couple of records on the go now… working with Gord Downie… so this is what makes us hard working! But it’s nice. It’s almost like a vacation. You work with new songs and new artists and new people… the change is good, you know?
Mb: Like hitting “refresh”.
TG: Absolutely. And you learn a lot of things from different people you’re working with.
Mb: Like?
TG: Well we change gears pretty hard with a lot of the people we work with. We go from straight country to rock to R&B, so I learn a lot of different styles and different ways of writing..
Mb: And how to “play well with others”…
TG: Yeah, but that kind of comes naturally after doing it for 12 years. We’ve been backing different people since we started.
Mb: What do think the attraction is for other artists to want to work with you? How do you go from being “The Sadies” to backing an R&B artist?
TG: A lot of it is from years of working; seven degrees of separation from one artist to the other… being on the same label… to… we’ve become really good friends with them all. Sometimes we were friends first and then we did a project together. Other times we were fans and became friends.
Mb: The new record… not so new now and you’re coming out with a new one next year?
TG: Yeah, we’re hard at it now. In about a week we’re going up to Kingston to record at the Hip’s studio for a week.
Mb: Is everything already written or do you write in the studio or…?
TG: We do a lot of writing in the studio, though we’ve been chipping away.
Mb: Still excited about the music business? Any doubts since the challenges of the internet … and the burning of your CD’s for nothing?
TG: From day one we never depended on selling CD’s. For us it’s always been about the live show. It’s always been about touring. I guess it would be nice to sell CD’s but it’s not like when people started downloading stuff we really noticed because we never really sold CD’s.
Mb: But you must sell a lot of CD’s at the shows…
TG: Oh yeah, we’re a great distributor of our record! So being like the traveling troubadour, the internet has been a good thing. It has enabled us to get to smaller towns. People can actually find things out online, rather than just putting up a couple of posters in small town in Ontario. You can see the difference.
Mb: What about video?
TG: We’ve made a couple of videos.
Mb: Like the experience?
TG: No! (laughs) It’s not my favourite process. I’d rather play live than pretend to play in front of the camera. We’ll put out a DVD one day of our concert but… We’ve done them before with friends and we’ve done them with actually video production companies, but I don’t know. I don’t know what you do with them in this day and age. MuchMusic isn’t going to play your video. CMT isn’t going to play our video… I don’t know.Though, we did the soundtrack for the “Big Daddy” Roth movie “Tales of the Rat Fink” and they made it into an animated video for it. It was really good. We were cartoon monsters. Being that I didn’t have to act in that one, I liked it!
Mb: I heard you just met Ray Davies of the Kinks.
TG: Yeah! We were in Norway at a festival. He was really, really nice. A gracious guy. We played a show in Sweden about a year ago. His girlfriend is in a Country band in Sweden and we did a show with them. She’d actually given him our CD’s. It was an honour. We love the Kinks. My brother always says, when asked who’s better the Beatles or the Stones, he says “The Kinks”.
Mb: So what else happens in the life of Travis Good? Any hobbies?
TG: Hobbies? (laughs) I come home and cut the grass, feed the dogs…
Mb: Film buff?
TG: Yeah I’m into movies. I’ve been watching a lot of horror movies. It’s hard to find a good horror movie these days. There’s a lot of good old ones, but I’m talking on the new shelf of the DVD store. There’s just too many bad horror movies.
Mb: Do you have a family?
TG: My wife and bunch of dogs.
Mb: No time for kids?
TG: No, not really. It’s hard enough trying to find someone to look after the dogs when I go on tour. (laughs) You can’t leave the kids behind in the barn for a day…
Mb: So what about your work with Garth Hudson?
TG: We’ve done work with Garth… you know, that’s like meeting Ray Davies… Even better, because we played with him… and he came out and played New Year’s with us last year… yeah he’s great.. great.. great… (silence)
Mb: So what’s up next week?
TG: I have a week off!
Mb: No need to cut the grass…
TG: We’ve got to go into the studio so I’ve got to try to come up with some tunes, which is “sometimes it comes easy and sometimes it don’t” thing. For me personally it’s tough to switch gears from tour to studio. They’re two extremely different scenes.
Mb What was it like growing up with Bruce Good as your dad. Did you go out on tour with the Good Brothers when you were kids?
TG: Once a year my mom would take us out, or if he was gone exceptionally long, we’d go out on runs for sure. He was away a lot and then he’d be home a lot. There was always good amplifiers around the house and he was very encouraging. He had good musical taste, though we weren’t interested at the time.
Mb: So money aside, would you rather play a large stadium or small soft seater?
TG: Money aside? I’d rather play the Orono Town Hall than a stadium.