Published Jan 01, 2006At the beginning of the year 2000, Montreal's Tricky Woo were on the top of the North American underground rock heap and seemingly poised to break out in a major way. They topped countless album of the year lists for Sometimes I Cry, garnered a Juno nomination, and had procured a prestigious deal to launch the same album worldwide on artist Frank Kozik's Man's Ruin label. By the end of the same year they'd lost second guitarist Adrian Popovich, bassist Eric Larock needed major ear surgery and the Man's Ruin deal had fallen apart.
What was a hard rocking band to do after such an up and down year? In this case, pull up their socks and come out with Les Sables Magiques (roughly translated, The Magic Sand) the biggest, boldest step in the Tricky Woo progression to date.
"There are definitely more colours used on this one," says singer/guitarist Andrew Dickson. "A few of these songs had actually been written before I started Tricky Woo, but all the capabilities to do them weren't there until now."
Musically, it's as if the band has ventured out of a dense forest into an big, open valley where true 70s boogie rock gets the upper hand over power blues punk. A small string section, female vocals and some meaty slide guitar work all contribute to this broader vision of vintage hard rock updated and filtered through modern sensibilities. "When I started the band, I wanted it to be constantly ascending and climbing," Dickson continues "and I think that had a lot to do with Adrian wanting to leave. The place it was going was not where he wanted to go."
The move to a three-piece offered more possibilities as it cleared out space for other elements to move in. "A lot of doors are opening with respect to bringing the rhythm section to the forefront and I've always been a fan of music that had that quality." Not only are bass player Larock's crisp and tasty bass lines featured more prominently within this new, roomier sound, but he also steps up to sing some lead vocals on the Southern fried "Don't Get The Music Worried" and the enigmatic "Szabo Gabo."
The changes just keep on coming for these guys and the latest is the addition of a new band member, multi-instumentalist Phil Burns. "He plays flute, organ, and guitar," Dickson says. "He also has a great voice and will be singing a lot of back ups live. It's going to be nice to be out and playing again. Last year we only did one tour and it was kind of a bummer. If I had the choice I'd like to be playing all the time."