Blue Rodeo is still pure gold

On their new album, Blue Rodeo proves they can diversify their sound with an orchestral flavour, and still keep their faithful fans tuning in.

“You have to keep it fresh,” says Glenn Milchem, the drummer of Blue Rodeo.

And a fresh sound is certainly what Blue Rodeo’s latest release Palace of Gold entails, with an appealing orchestra flavour throughout, featuring The Bushwhack Horns and The Planet Soul Strings.

“This is the first time we had strings and horns consistently on a record, it was a conscious stylistic choice,” says Milchem. “We thought it would be cool to do sort of an orchestral album.”

Blue Rodeo is often classified as alternative-country, but the band was around before the term even came about.

“To me it’s just ‘Blue Rodeo,’ I don’t worry about labels,” says Milchem. “I always think of Blue Rodeo as a country type band, because I think that’s what we do best.”

Since Blue Rodeo’s first studio album Outskirts, which was released in 1987, the band has developed a loyal fan base.

“We could probably have a career, or a dwindling career, rehashing the favourites,” says Milchem. “In some ways we have to put pressure on ourselves to keep evolving and to keep it interesting.”

The band kicked off their Canadian tour on November 1 in Vancouver, a tour that will end in February in London.

“There’s a lot of places in Canada that I get excited about playing in, because there are a lot of beautiful halls,” says Milchem. “This is our home, this is where our largest audience is.”

This tour will promote their ninth studio album; however, fans can still expect to hear some classic Blue Rodeo tunes on the tour, in addition to the songs on the new album.

“We’re going to feature the horns a lot,” says Milchem about the upcoming shows. “We’re touching on a bit of everything in these shows, a lot of the older stuff has been rearranged to accommodate the horns.”

Blue Rodeo recently toured in smaller venues in the States, usually in bars. This limited their American demographic, because their audience had to be aged 21.

“The American audience is a lot smaller, but they’re very enthusiastic,” says Milchem. “Demographically speaking, [Americans] are a more narrow age group, in Canada we get young people because their parents listened, and they grew up on Blue Rodeo.”

When Milchem is not drumming in Blue Rodeo, he can be found as the front man in his very own band, The Swallows, a band where he demonstrates more control in the creative process.

“You don’t just sit down and say, ‘I gotta write a hit,’ it doesn’t work that way. You just try to do something of quality, just what you believe in.”

The Swallows second album, Beauty of Our Surroundings, will be available in stores on November 26.

“Hopefully, sometime in the near future, I’ll be touring in support of it,” says Milchem.

Each member of Blue Rodeo has their own solo project and Milchem says that “this is healthy for everybody.” Though juggling two musical projects is a challenge, it is ultimately the passion for music that drives Milchem.

“Making music is what I do, it’s what I do best, and it’s what I love to do. That’s what I’m doing in both situations.”

Karaoke discs are now available on Blue Rodeo’s official website, which reflects the fact that the music has woven itself into the Canadian fabric through the years.

“Blue Rodeo is definitely embedded in Canadian culture. It’s nice to be a part of a band that’s become part of the culture.”

The future is unknown for Blue Rodeo, but they show no signs of slowing down.

“I couldn’t tell you what our next album will be like, but we’re gonna keep cranking them out.”

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.