By James KeastWhat are your current fixations? I’m fixated on getting ready to go on the road.
Name something you consider a mind-altering work of art: Day-to-day life is a pretty mind-altering work of art.
What’s been your most memorable or inspiration gig and why? I say Peggy Lee in Edmonton in 1983 or ’84, and that was pretty mind-altering. Particularly because it’s Peggy Lee, and she was really, really transporting. She was such a great performer and I was young and she was one of my huge influences and I saw her in a really tiny room. It had a tremendous impact on me. It was right at the very beginning when I was starting to put [early country band] the Reclines together, and I had been a big fan for a while. Physically she was very frail, but she had amazing presence and that stuck with me — it’s not the power of the voice or the power of the body, it’s the power of the intent of the song.
What have been your career highs and lows? Funnily enough, they’re probably inseparable. I believe there are opposite truths to all truths. What seems to be a high at one moment would be a low at another. Or when you’re high, there’s gotta be a downside and when you’re down, there’s gotta be an upside.
What’s the meanest thing that anyone has ever said to you, before, during or after a show? I remember once I was really young, it was right at the beginning, and I just finished singing this ballad that I thought I had really, really nailed — and maybe technically I did nail it — and the guy said "Okay, now let’s hear it with feeling.” I was so mad at him at the beginning, but over the years, that comment always rang in my head and I wondered what he meant. As I get older, I realise what he meant. Not because of him, but it has subsequently been my number one journey or driving force of my singing, that I try to be as honest and as present in the song as possible.
What do you think everyone should shut up about? Themselves.
What traits do you most like and most dislike about yourself? I like my confidence and I hate my overconfidence.
What’s your idea of a perfect Sunday? Start off at the farmer’s market - the organic local market here in Los Angeles, that’s one of the most beautiful things about living in Southern California - then walking the dogs, riding my motorcycle and watching NFL football.
What do you think of when you think of Canada? Space.
What was the first LP/cassette/CD/8-Track you bought with your own money? Anne Murray. I remember what it looked like - it had "Shine” on it. [1976’s Keeping In Touch]
What’s been your most memorable day job? Working harvest — that was an awesome job. Hard, but fun. I liked the idea of harvest, I love the work ethic of farmers, and being outside, and the smell of fresh cut wheat was beautiful. It was hard physical labour — I liked that.
If I wasn’t playing music I would be: Painting.
What do you fear the most? Fear.
What’s been your strangest celebrity encounter? I was in a private box at the Super Bowl one year. It’s a private box that’s shared by the people who have performed at the halftime show. In the box are Kiss and Cher and someone else weird, I don’t remember who it was. And in walks Martha Stewart. I was sitting beside Cher, and someone sitting beside me leans in and says "I hear she likes big black dick.” And Cher says, "Yeah sure, on a bed of greens with squid sauce.” I swear to god that happened.
Who would be your ideal dinner guest, living or dead, and what would you serve them? I know this sounds a bit altruistic and esoteric, but I think maybe Buddha Shakyamuni. We wouldn’t have to eat.
What does your mom wish you were doing instead? Hanging out with her.
What song would you like to have played at your funeral? That one’s a no-brainer: "The Valley” by Jane Siberry.