PHOTO CREDIT: Sean Sisk
ADRIAN Sutherland of Midnight Shine…
has been talking with me about the band’s new album, High Road. I ask what it was like working with John-Angus MacDonald and Tim Vesely on the record and why the band decided to cover Neil Young’s classic track, Heart of Gold.
Sutherland tells me about gigs and whether the group will come to the U.K.; whether the Canadian band has any plans for the rest of the year; whether Sutherland has time to relax away from music – he recommends a new artist that is worth some time and attention.
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourselves, please?
I’m Adrian Sutherland; frontman of the Roots/Rock band, Midnight Shine.
Tell me more about High Road. What sort of themes inspired the music?
Our third album, High Road, was inspired by a number of different themes, mostly the experiences of growing up in the remote community of Attawapiskat in Canada’s North. Some of the experiences were not so good, while others were positive. But, the main theme is resilience: standing up and persevering through hardships and coming out the other end fairly unscathed.
What was it like working with John-Angus MacDonald and Tim Vesely?
It was such an honour to work with producers like John-Angus MacDonald and Tim Vesely. John-Angus was very calm down-to-earth and easy-going and was full of ideas. He’s the kind of person that I would like to learn from and aspire to be like someday. Tim was similar but approached the songs differently. He also has lots of experience producing and was able to capture the feel and magic of the songs he produced.
It was a real pleasure learning from and working with both producers.
The record brings in new musical tastes and elements. Did all these new elements come together naturally? Was it important to push your sound on?
You can say the third album, High Road, is building more on our first album, Midnight Shine, and trying to develop a more mature Roots/Rock sound versus a commercial Pop sound.
For me, it was important to create a sound and lyrical context and themes similar to what I did on the first album for a number of reasons such as wanting to inspire people, finding a place for my emotions and re-directing that energy into something more positive. Overall, it really felt like a healing journey for me.
One of the standouts is a cover of Neil Young’s Heart of Gold. What was the reason for tackling that sound?
We decided to cover Heart of Gold as a sort of a last-minute decision. Neil Young was someone who inspired me many years back to write music of my own. When we were recording Heart of Gold, it didn’t really feel like we were doing anything special at the time. But, we did want to make it unique in a way that set us apart from any other version out there.
After the mixing process was done, it was clear that we had done something pretty cool with this classic song. Neil Young’s publisher gave us permission to make the changes that we did and we are pretty proud of how the final song turned out.
What sort of artists did you grow up around and are influenced by?
Some of the artists I grew up listening to were Neil Young, Tom Petty; Creedence Clearwater Revival, Nazareth and a few others.
PHOTO CREDIT: Sean Sisk
It seems like you have some great gigs in Canada coming up. Which dates are you looking forward to most?
I would have to say the gig I am most looking forward to is Skookum Festival in Vancouver’s Stanley Park on September 8.
Might you head to the U.K. at some point?
I’m sure someday we will be making the trip over the big pond to do shows.
What do you hope to achieve in 2018?
In 2018, we hope to make a lot of racket and win over as many people as we can out there - because we believe we are a band with an important purpose.
PHOTO CREDIT: Sean Sisk
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music – the one that sticks in the mind?
One of my favourite memories in music was getting to share the stage with Tom Petty at RBC Ottawa Bluesfest in July 2017; definitely one of the biggest highlights of my music career so far.
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
The advice I would give to any newcomers would be to build a solid team to help you elevate your music and take it to the next level. This industry is a big machine with lots of moving parts, so any help you can get will go a long way...
IN THIS PHOTO: The Static Shift/PHOTO CREDIT: Joe Miles
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
One of the new bands that I really like are called The Static Shift. You should check them out.
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
I do get time away from music, which is usually time spent with family at home (I have four kids and three grandkids) or out on the land. I spend as much time as I can hunting and fishing - and carrying on our Cree traditions.
Finally, choose any song you’d like to hear, and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
I’d like to hear Saint Cecilia by the Foo Fighters
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