Sam Roberts and canadian evil… content

By Daorcey Le Bray

Some rock bands don’t want you to know they’re from Canada. They’re afraid of being marked forever with a scarlet maple leaf, never to find legitimate success apart from CanCon and CBC specials. With The Sam Roberts Band working on their fourth Canadian tour in the last year, there’s no doubting their nationality.

And if this new success from Montreal can help it, the rest of the world won’t doubt it either.

“There are plenty of references in the record that are very localized and very much about things that affect Canadian lives,” says Sam Roberts about We Were Born In A Flame, their first full-length album, which burst onto the scene this June.

While musicians who want to globalize their success often shun self-referential lyrics, Roberts has his own ideas.

“From a band’s perspective, to mention Canada in a song is to pigeon-hole oneself and doom one to a life within our borders,” he says. “I think in a lot of people’s minds, it’s impossible to sing about anything Canadian and have people in the States and people in Europe possibly relate to what you’re talking about.

“I think that’s bullshit. I felt that other people around the world, when I mention a hockey puck, or the city of Montreal, or sing in French, would be able to relate to it,” he continues. “These are local ideas, but they’re still universal ideas.”

While Roberts feels he has experienced unqualified success as a result of his ability to play music for fans in Canada on his own terms, he admits he still has some work to do before he makes it big in the United States.

“What’s happening in the States is a new beginning for us,” he says.

The band has recently focused on playing as many gigs down south as in the Great White North, yet Roberts has come up against the reality of cross-cultural ignorance.

“Just like Canada doesn’t give a shit about what’s going on in the States, they don’t care about what’s going on up here,” says Roberts. “We have to go down there and prove ourselves all over again.”

It is a considerable challenge for any band to mirror their local success abroad, and The Sam Roberts Band is no exception.

“It’s one gig at a time. We try to get people into a room… and then we can do what we do. We’re just chipping away, trying to get every little opportunity we can get, and sometimes it’s tough and sometimes it seems easier.”

The Sam Roberts Band is playing MacEwan Hall Tues., Nov. 4.

Leave a comment