Music Interview: Sadies doin’ it old country stylee

By Garth Paulson

Country music is a very polarizing genre. For every person falling in love with it there are dozens who think it’s the most squalid sounding filth around. But polarizing as it may be, country music is responsible for creating a third classification–the alt-country phenomenon. Alt-country folk love the tradition and the down-to-earth honesty country was founded on, though hate the modern radio perversion forcing as many choruses into three minutes while desperately trying to sound blue-collar.

“I’m so oblivious to it, I don’t listen to those stations,” says Mike Belitsky, drummer of Canadian stalwarts the Sadies. “There’s one [radio station] that my mother listens to that plays one new country song and one old country song back to back. When I’m home I listen to it with her and we basically listen to one out of every two songs, then she turns it down when the new one comes on.”

Considering these harsh words, it’s surprising to find the Sadies’ latest album, the quintessentially Canadian titled Favourite Colours, is arguably the band’s most country sounding album yet. Though their previous albums may have had a distinct country edge to them, the band also paid tribute to the other genres of music they love, whether it was a dirty garage-rock, Ventures influenced surf-rock or Ennio Morricone-esque spaghetti western epics. On Favourite Colours, however, many of these aspects of the Sadies’ sound are less evident allowing the bittersweet twang, which has always been the band’s backbone, to take full control.

“I don’t think it was a conscious decision,” explains Belitsky. “We weren’t intentionally trying to make less of a Sadies sounding album, it was just a progression.”

Intentional or not, the results of Favourite Colours speak for themselves. In the short amount of time since its release the album has garnered an incredible amount of praise from the usual Canadian sources to even some of the most notoriously picky American publications. After years of releasing consistently good albums, gaining a reputation as one of Canada’s preeminent live acts and becoming highly sought after collaborators amongst their peers, the Sadies finally might be getting the listener recognition they deserve.

“We’ve always put our stuff out on smaller labels and had creative control over everything we’ve done,” Belitsky says. “I don’t think its about time [that we received more recognition], it’s a natural growth. We knew that if we kept doing what we’re doing people would hear it. Somebody likes it and they tell their friends who tell their friends. It’s been more of a grassroots kind of growth. It’s a very pleasant experience, it’s been really gratifying”

Just don’t expect the Sadies to make any appearances on Country 105 anytime soon.

“It’s such a different type of music you know? We’re not even the same genre,” argues Belitsky, “There is no reason why the local hot country radio station would want to play us because we don’t sound anything like the music they play. They wouldn’t touch a band like the Sadies.”