Bahamas on Maritime Living, Almost Meeting Trump and Marrying His Wife After 10 Minutes

The Exclaim! Questionnaire

Photo: David Gillespe

BY Matt BobkinPublished Oct 6, 2020

You can truly get the best of both worlds with the music of Bahamas. The folk rocking troubadour also known as Afie Jurvanen has long been a staple of Canadian music thanks to his affable demeanour, succinct songwriting and expansive arrangements, with songs great for both easy listening and detail-oriented over-analyzing — radio hits for the studio heads. All of it and more can be found on his next album, Sad Hunk.

What are you up to?

I'm writing and shooting a YouTube show called Tone Tools that I'm excited about. I'd prefer to be on tour, but it's nice to develop some new skills. Also, I have this wicked new album that I'm promoting. Keeps me pretty busy…

What are your current fixations?

I set up a canvas wall tent right by the ocean this summer and that has me pretty dang fixed! It's got a little wood stove in there so I'm looking forward to the changing seasons. Beauty, eh?

Why do you live where you do?

I live in Nova Scotia because it's beautiful pretty much everywhere, there's lots of space for everyone, and so far I've only met nice people. I'm sure there are jerks here, but I've never actually seen one.

What's the last book or movie that blew your mind?

Can't Hurt Me by David Goggins. His life is a story of the mind triumphing over unfathomable pain. Also, he did 4,000 chin-ups.

What has been your most memorable or inspirational concert and why?

Neil Young at the United Palace Theatre in Harlem, 2007. Neil did the first set solo, and then tore the roof off the place with Crazy Horse for the second. I cried 10 seconds into the first song. Everybody was there. Donald Trump was sitting across the aisle from me! I got invited to hang on the bus after the show and it was a huge moment for me. Didn't see Trump back there though… Guess he didn't get the invite.

What's been the greatest moment of your career so far?

I played the Winnipeg Folk Fest right when my first album, Pink Strat, came out. I asked the label to send me 30 copies figuring I could sell them over the course of the weekend. They accidentally shipped 300. I must have played 25 different times that weekend but it was worth it as I didn't have to fly home with any CDs. It gave me a lot of confidence early on that people were connecting with my music.

What's been the worst moment of your career so far?

When my old band Paso Mino broke up, that was pretty tough. We made an album and then it just sat on a hard drive for 15 years cause we couldn't figure out a way to finish it. A lot of that was my attitude. The good thing is we started having Zoom hangs during the lockdown and we've finished it and it's gonna be out soon. It's like Chinese Democracy, but actually good.

Who's a Canadian musician that should be more famous?

Garrett Mason. I just discovered him, but he's very well known out here on the Coast. I don't think he wants to be famous, but his album Love & Sound is famous in my house.

What advice should you have taken, but did not?

I've taken every piece of advice from anyone that's been willing to give it to me.

What was the first song you ever wrote?

"Jolly Green Giant." It was about this kid that died of cancer when I was in the sixth grade. The melody and arrangement were pretty juvenile but I remember the lyrics being pretty heavy. I played it for my mom and she cried. But she cries to all my songs so she's maybe not the best barometer for quality.

What do you think of when you think of Canada?

Canada is a wonderful place to live and I feel so lucky to be here. My mother came here as an immigrant and built a whole life for her and me and my siblings, so I'll always be grateful for the generosity Canada has shown me and my family.

What was the first album you ever bought with your own money?

Run-DMC, Raising Hell. Compact disc.

What was your most memorable day job?

I worked in a factory when I was 16 and a machine ate most of my right hand. They put it all back together, but my index finger still has a big scar from where they sewed it back up. My guitar playing career would have been pretty different if I didn't have these sweet fingers, so that was pretty memorable I guess.

If you weren't playing music, what would you be doing instead?

Probably still working in that factory! It's the last job I had.

How do you spoil yourself?

I like fishing a lot. I don't really feel guilty doing it, so maybe it's not spoiling myself, but I do really enjoy it.

What traits do you most like and most dislike about yourself?

I'm impulsive, which sometimes leads to interesting decisions. On the other hand, I think my instincts are pretty tuned into what works for me. Impulse and instinct are almost the same thing. My wife and I got married after dating for 10 minutes. Seems like the instinct to be impulsive worked in my favour on that one 'cause she's da bomb.

What's the best way to listen to music?

The car is really good. It's been good for a long time. Your basic car stereo in a Kia Rondo is probably better than what most people have in their homes at this point.

What do you fear most?

Probably my brother dying. Sorry, that got heavy fast.

If you won the lottery, what would you do with the money?

I get to travel around the world and spend my whole day cracking jokes with some of the best people. Then I get to play my music and people actually seem to like it. And I get paid for it! Trust me, I won the lottery 20 years ago just by becoming a musician.

What has been your strangest celebrity encounter?

I shared a van with Chali 2na from Jurassic 5 after Bonnaroo one year. I had a bad soccer injury the night before and my leg was in a cast and I was super high on Percocet. Not a good look for me, but he was very generous and cool and we even got a pic together. But that was before social media so the photo was pretty useless…

Who would be your ideal dinner guest, living or dead, and what would you serve them?

I haven't seen my mother for a long time because of the lockdown. I would have her over and barbecue a salmon that I caught in Newfoundland. But let's be honest, she would probably take over the kitchen and make me dinner.

What is the greatest song of all-time?

I like "Happy Birthday" a lot. Even if you suck at singing, most people are pretty happy to hear that one.

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