Hello again! The very first interview ever featured on Americana UK was with yourselves way back in May 2001. What have you been up to since then?
Ruth: Well, May of 2001. We completed our three week tour of the UK and headed home for an end of the summer break. The Guthries played a maritime festival which honors a Nova Scotian songwriter who was successful world wide. His name was Stan Rogers. We had a great time performing adjacent to Lynn Miles, Oh Susana , Valdy and Jimmy Rankin. We decided that before we set out on tour again, we should do some pre production demos for a new album. We used a studio that's out where I live (close to Peggy's Cove). We recorded around 30 songs by the 4 songwriters in the band. Our plan for September and October was to do an ocean to ocean tour of Canada. We wanted to have the demos with us, so that we could think about what tunes we wanted to include and also how we wanted the tunes to come across. The Guthries completed our tour, had a great time, were nominated for a Canadian Country Music award, went to the ceremony in Calgary, Alberta, met lots of friends and saw lots of wildlife. On our way home we stopped two nights in a row in Northern Ontario, to watch the northern lights. Once we got home we started recording almost immediately. By November we had most of the main tracks completed with the bells and whistles (literally) left to complete after our break in December. December didn't close like we had envisioned, with an almost completed album. As it turns out one of our songwriter's was let go from of any band obligations. This event then motivated more recording. We had more room now to work with. By the end of March we had finished. We (along with 2 engineers) mixed the album and had it mastered in Ontario. I worked on the graphics and layout while I finished up a term at school. We held a benefit for Doctors without Borders for our release party at home. It took place May 9th and we started a three month tour the next day. For May and June we travelled through Canada. For the end of June and the start of July we played shows in the UK with She Haw and the Have Nots (UK label mates). One of our last days in Leicester we got the opportunity to record with the Have Nots. The recording will be released on their album soon. August was a break time to write and enjoy the warm water. We have had some time off while I am in school again. We played some shows around town and are now ready to get back over to the UK.
The new record feels very different from its predecessor, with perhaps a greater variety of styles - was that intentional?
Ruth: With the absence of one songwriter and a new one in the midst, styles have come and gone. I think since we did have time to dwell a bit on the songs and production, it makes sense that the songs would be more thoughtful to arrangement and form. Our songs are like any piece of work, the longer you spend on it, the details become fine tuned and a direction it will be more obvious. This by no means, will set a trend. Our next album will be a new adventure again.
Do you think your music itself has changed much since the "Off Windmill" CD?
Ruth: We are still the same musicians (minus one) so I don't think there is any difference instrumentally, but we now have Gabe's songs as well as Dale's and mine to build from. My music is continually changing or revisiting the past. I can't say it has ever been consistent.
Are you pleased to see the new record getting an official release on a UK label this time?
Ruth: Sure, Mick is a great person who loves music and has a vision that fits with our own. We are tickled to meet and hear new interesting music like that of the Have Nots and a Manchester songwriter, Matt Hill.
You seem to be spending a lot of time over here, relatively speaking, this year. Are you keen to get the album known by UK audiences in particular?
Gabe: You’re right, this will be our second time over the water this year. We are "keen" in getting the album known by the U.K audiences. We also work very hard trying to get the albums known all over the world. Where ever there are people, and a good appreciation for our type of music, there will be a place to tour.
Have you met your label-mates the Havenots yet? What do you think of their music?
Gabe: We have met our label-mates "The Havenots". They are absolutely fantastic people. They both right beautiful songs and sing like angels. "The Guthries" recorded a couple of songs with them in the summer. I'm not sure whatever became of the songs though. I know one of them "shut your eyes" is available to listen to @ circus65.com. I can't wait to see them and pound back some pints with Liam, that boy is out of control I tells ya.
The biography of the band on your official website is untypically vague given the reams of stuff we wade through sometimes from other artists! Did you write it yourselves and was it meant to convey a broad element to what people might expect from the band? (or were you just feeling lazy? ;) )
Gabe: The bio on the website is "untypically vague" which is fine by us. The Murray brothers have a beautiful sister cleverly named Amy. She is a brilliant writer of sorts and really knows the band well. At first when the band asked her if she would be able to capture everything the band said and stood for without out going overboard, she wasn't sure if she could do it.(Being so close to the band and all.) But she managed to squeeze some of our accomplishments in there, with a few other facts like our height and weight. Important stuff ya know.........Lazy?!
It's presumably a way off yet, but where do you see yourselves progressing musically and/or lyrically for the next record?
Gabe: Well it's not as way off as one might think. "The Guthries" have loads of new material for a new album. I see ourselves writing songs still about people and everyday things like driving, or having a spider crawl in your mouth and bite you.
When we were chatting last year, it was before the events of 9/11 of course, but almost with premonition you discussed some of your worries with US foreign policy then, particularly as Canadians. How do you feel about the way things are going at the moment?
Serge: Well, it seems to be getting worse, doesn’t it? I heard a joke yesterday that Canadians will benefit from all the right-wing zealotry since all the liberal educated professionals and artists will be seeking refuge here in the weeks to come. I don't know, I’m not terribly hopeful. The republicans have just won majorities through by-elections, we have our own government in Canada warning its citizens about travelling to the USA since there have been tonnes of incidents at our border with people being unduly harassed and cries of racial profiling. There are fanatical right wing candidates like Pat Buchanan calling our country "Soviet Canuckistan" and crying foul on how we conduct our own affairs on CNN. Three million US voters supported this guy! You should hear this fellow talk about women in business and education in America. It doesn't make sense. There are some scary individuals in some very powerful places down there. Some would say that had 9/11 happened in one of our respective countries, we may well act or think differently, but why does human life matter more when the people are from your country? There are thousands dying at the hands many dictators all over the world, so why Iraq-now? Why doesn't anyone speak up about all the other atrocities? Because they don't jeopardise US interests. No country has a clean slate in respect to allowing unnecessary deaths, or perpetrating them, so how do we come to decide which countries deserve punishment and which do not? This is hypocrisy. US foreign policy over the last 20 years is, in effect, capitalist colonialism, and in my opinion, colonialism is still one of the major causes of resentment amongst oppressed people today. This resentment is passed down through generations and is the real root of terrorism.
Clearly, though Bush tries to convince everyone otherwise, Iraq has nothing to do with Al-Quaida. In fact,Bin Laden is enemies with Hussein.We all know about the sanctions that have killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children over the last 10 years. We know this war is about oil and the US multi-nationals protecting their interests. What will this war do to help the families of the dead in NYC cope with their loss? What will this war do to help prevent further attacks on American soil? How can this nation or the world sit by and watch this corrupt and evil government hijack democracy(yes maybe it is flawed, but that's another argument)and use it to satisfy their greed? Yes, the arguments have been made that Hussein is an evil dictator, but how can we effectively move beyond him when a country with the power and influence of the US has a dictator of its own? I guess since the people have voted for Bush and the Republicans that this is their will, but the last election did have some flaws and a lot of controversy surrounding it.
I would like to stress that I DO NOT hate Americans or think them below me (well, they are-but just geographically)or the rest of the world. I have had the pleasure of travelling there and meeting lots of our friendly neighbors and that is exactly how they have behaved in most circumstances, a very great and proud and deserving people, and I would always support them in any time of need, but I do not support any actions which would result in the loss of human, particularly, civilian life. We are talking about the government-NOT the people. In most cases it SHOULD be the same, but I believe this instance to be different.
As the world becomes a smaller place, we need to understand and question all that our governments do, especially with respect to foreign policy, because we should expect to treat others as we would want to be treated. Funny that all this sounds so elementary, and it is "educated, qualified and fairly elected" individuals can't seem to apply it to their daily lives and their jobs-jobs of the utmost importance.
Also, it wouldn't hurt to look to ourselves to break this cycle of envy and greed. This is inherent in many developed countries-there wouldn't be such a fervour if we didn't consume the way we do. Moving away from non-renewable sources and questioning what are necessities and extravagances in life and how much are willing to sacrifice to help others live freely would be a good start(IMOHO).
Ruth: It's pretty scary everywhere these days. The US seems to be inching its way into our lives, like it or not. I think Canadians have got to become more aware about what they buy and where it comes from. Newer Canadian cities like Calgary, Alberta are a thieving metropolis' of big US business. Almost all hotels, grocery stores, cinemas, gas stations and restaurants are American. I'm into trying to support the independent. Let it be in the music industry or in the commercial world. Small farms are being replaced by large, international ones. The Canadian Government has begun to privatize. The New Brunswick water supply contract is now being handed by the States. The US company came to NB and brought their own US staff. Tell me what is their incentive to keep NB'S water clean. A Nova Scotian, spring water company that takes millions of litres of water a year, for less than $1000 paid to the Nova Scotia government has now been sold to Avian France. Avian gets a great contract and France now reaps the huge profit from our local springs. Canada is just giving away it's natural resources with no thought to the independent worker. The US is creeping closer every day. Their was a US war vessel sitting in Halifax harbour for weeks and the public was not informed that it was chalk full of nuclear missiles. I have heard that there will be an US army base built in Bedford (which is right outside HFX) that will hold 20000 US troops. On the news US Military personal have said things like, if Canada will not put more armed support into protecting their shores then we will have to do it for them. These comments are more and more frequent, although there is no apparent reason that Canada is more of a target then any where else. My question is why is the world so concerned with the US wars, when there are 200 others that should be just as important.
Finally, what are you up to for the rest of the year? And what do you all want for Christmas?!
Ruth: When we get home in Nov. we plan on working on new demos for another album. We have plenty of new material. We may do a short tour in Feb. or March in Canada but weather is unpredictable so we won't want to travel too much. I've been busy mailing off packages, trying to put together a summer, Canadian festival tour. Hopefully that will take place in July and Aug. We probably won't make it back to the UK until we have a new album. Christmas, what's that?
Serge: We'll probably lay low for the rest of 2002.There will be a short jaunt up to Toronto and the surrounding areas in Jan/Feb, after that it will probably be time to look into studios to get started on the next record. As for a Christmas gift, I’ll be satisfied when my better half returns from studying in Montreal and also spending time with my nieces and nephew should do the trick.