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A Dirty Dozen with ADRIAN SUTHERLAND – March 2024

| 12 March 2024 | Reply

According to the bands bio: “Adrian Sutherland is a roots-rocker with heart from Attawapiskat in Canada’s Far North. His music draws inspiration from his life, the land, and his Cree culture, with songs that ripple far beyond stages. Adrian is fluent in Omushkegowuk Cree, and is a respected cultural leader and traditional knowledge keeper.” We get Adrian to discuss new music, influences, and more.

1. Tell us a little about your latest release.  What might a fan or listener not grab the first or second time they listen through?  Are there any hidden nuggets you put in the material or that only diehard fans might find?

The latest release is called “My Rebel Spirit,” it’s a single from my second solo album that comes out March 15. I’d have to say “My Rebel Spirit” encompasses a little bit about who I am. Sometimes I can be misunderstood because of where I live and come from, not everyone can relate or grasp who I am, so it can be tough at times. It leaves me feeling like an outsider or a loner, or maybe I’m just a rebel because I haven’t always conformed. A person I once met told me that it’s not such a bad thing, which I agree with. One thing that grabs my attention in the song is the soulful harmonica playing of Mickey Raphael, and of course Colin Linden’s otherworldly guitar playing, all beautifully put together by Colin as he was producing the album. Hidden nuggets on the upcoming album are two songs written and sung in my native language, Omushkegowuk Cree. You’ll also hear pow wow singing on two of the tracks, that I performed in the studio.

2. What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a musician?

I grew up around musicians in my family, and was amused by it from a young age. When I was a young boy way up in Canada’s far north (where I still live) and first saw a music video by Bryan Adams on TV, I knew in that moment I was set on making music someday. It lit a fire in me that’s still burning.

3. Building on that, is there a specific song, album, performer, or live show that guided your musical taste?

There are two performers that come to mind, Tom Petty and Michael Jackson. Tom’s music has certainly influenced my music in many ways, if you listen to my songs you can definitely hear it. I was also fortunate to get to see Tom Petty perform at one of his final concerts. It was at Ottawa Bluesfest in 2017 when my band Midnight Shine opened up on his stage that evening. Michael Jackson’s music and videos were big when I was growing up, and I wanted to become a great performer like him. I’m not a great dancer at all, but my goal and vision since then has always been to build a live show that will leave a lasting impression on others.

4. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a song with, who would it be, and why?

There are a few that I would call on for sure, but I’d have to say Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters. Man, that would be such a great experience! I’ve been a big fan of his music for a long time and I’m almost certain we’d hit it off. Foo Fighters is one of the few big concerts I’ve seen, too. I live in an isolated place where we don’t get concerts. I’ve only seen a handful of big shows in my life, but I got to see Foo Fighters last summer at Ottawa Bluesfest. I performed in one of the theatres on the same night, and after my set I got to go and watch their concert from the crowd – what a great show!

5. What is your favorite activity when out of the studio and/or not on tour?  What do you like to do to unwind?

I really like nature so anytime I can get out to the wilderness, I do. Most times I go with family to camp out on the land, or to fish and hunt for game to fill our freezers. Sometimes I take groups of youth for camping and hunting, to do what I can to pass on the knowledge I was taught as a youth. I also enjoy skating and stick-handling, it’s such a good way for me to relax. There’s just something about handling a puck that’s really calming and satisfying at the same time. So I do that when I can in the winter, after first clearing a rink out on the river.

6. How would you describe your music to someone who’d never listened to you before? What is the one comparison a reviewer or fan has made that made you cringe or you disagreed with?

I’d describe my music as a little bit of rock, folk, Americana, pop, and country. It’s hard to place me in one genre, so people have said. While I write about things that have impacted my life, my music also touches on universal themes and touches people in different ways. So others can also relate to the songs. One thing someone said that made me cringe was that my music was dated, ugh! Maybe in some ways it is, but I don’t think it is.

7. When your band is hanging out together, who cooks, who gets the drinks in, and who is first to crack out the acoustic guitars for a singalong?

I mostly play solo these days, but when I was touring with a band I’d cook a lot for the others. My duo partner can cook some great meals as well, it’s always nice to travel with him. I’ve lived a sober life for over 20 years now, so the drinks these days are typically coffee or tea. I’m always the first to pull out the acoustic to sing or rehearse, probably because I need the most preparation time for shows.

8. When was the last time you were starstruck and who was it?

Last summer I was completely star-struck when we ran into the Foo Fighters in the performers area at the Ottawa BluesFest. I was sitting right next to them in the catering tent, and still can’t believe it!

9. What is the best part of being a musician? If you could no longer be a musician for whatever reason, what would be your dream job?

The best part of being a musician is performing and connecting with the audience while on stage. Meeting others is also up there, and so is getting to see different parts of the world. If I was no longer doing music, I think a dream job for me would be guiding people out on wilderness trips.

10. What is one question you have always wanted an interviewer to ask – and what is the answer? Conversely, what question are you tired of answering?

I’d love to talk about hockey – I used to play hockey and love the sport. The highlight of playing the game, my response would be my last-ever game in Jasper, Alberta, where I played well. The building was so loud that each time I touched the puck or gave a big hit the crowd roared! I’m tired of answering questions about the water conditions in my village.

11. Looking back over your career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over,” even if it didn’t change your current situation?

I’ve made some mistakes over my music career, some bigger than others. The biggest one was signing a bad record deal right out of the gate which derailed things for the first few years, and almost killed the music in me in the process. If only I had listened to my gut feeling, I would’ve been a lot further along in this music journey now. Because that deal really put a stick in my wheel.

12. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording sessions for any one record in history, which would you choose – and what does that record mean to you?

I’d have to say Grave Diggaz’ 6 Feet Deep Hip Hop album. I love Hip Hop especially when I was in my teens, and that album certainly made an impression on me. To be in those sessions I’m sure would’ve been great but nuts at the same time. That record meant a lot to me as I was trying to sort through some difficult life circumstances and when I blasted that in my room it seemed to take me away from all the shit.






Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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