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Old 04-21-2011, 09:10 PM   #1
Join Date: May 2000
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Default Tragically Hip cover "Circle Is SMall"
When they first joined forces for the side-project Strippers Union, the Tragically Hip's Rob Baker and Odds singer Craig Northey had an instant chemistry that resulted in 2005's 'Strippers Union Local 518.' However, it took a while longer to get around to 'The Deuce,' their aptly titled sophomore album released last month.

"I want to make the record when I have the time to make the record," Baker tells Spinner. "For the last five years the Hip has been really busy going full steam. And when the Hip are going full steam, I don't miss it in a sense because I'm making [music] with my friends.

"When the Hip takes a year off, I'm totally at loose ends. It's like, 'Okay, what to do with myself now?' Get on the phone, call Craig and here we go, because I can't be without a band, making music and having a project."

Baker says despite geography being a problem -- Northey is based in Vancouver, BC, while Baker calls Kingston, ON home -- the new album seemed like a logical jumping-off point from the debut.

"With the first one, there's a bit more of a feeling out process because I'd never played with anyone other than the Hip, not in twenty-something years," he says. "This time, I think there was a bit more of a concerted effort to write more songs, make a more pointed record and I think also more of an outward-looking record.

"I think it's probably more focused in terms of lyrical content; there are themes that run through the record. On the first record the only real theme that runs through it is which pop stars do we want to kill off -- we killed off a few but they just keep coming."

According to Baker, 'The Deuce' has "a sort of extroverted Stones, the Who sort of vibe," with the album's lead single, 'Making Strange,' inspired from a chat he and Northey had about people's assumptions regarding the whole notion of sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll.

"We were just talking about how hard it is for our wives and other people to believe that we're not like cats and dogs out on the road," says Baker. "People will believe what they believe or what they want to believe. So we had this conversation -- 'I'm not making strange.'"

Perhaps the surprise is the album's closer, a cover of Gordon Lightfoot's 'The Circle Is Small,' which is a song Baker has been wanting to record for several years.

"We're all at that age where we've seen friends -- if we haven't been through it ourselves -- go through horrible domestic situations," he says. "At the time I had a friend going through it, I was listening to old Gordon Lightfoot songs. I thought these lyrics are so pointed and so direct.

"He sings it in this jaunty sort of troubadour style and I really thought it kind of undercuts what he's saying. I thought there was an alternative reading to this, so I worked it up in my basement, me trying to do my demonic Leonard Cohen, trying to divide the song into this pleading verse and then this menacing chorus. It's sort of like, 'Every breath you take I'll be watching you.' There's just a little twist in there that makes it unsettled."

Strippers Union has no firm tour dates but Baker says there's a chance for some touring in late April and May before the Tragically Hip -- who are "plugging away" on a new album -- mount some summer dates. If that doesn't work, a more piecemeal approach should happen in late summer or early fall with a handful of dates in different regions rather than one extensive trek.

"I just want to get out and play the songs live because it feels like that's the consummation of the whole process to me," Baker says. "The band has been flirting and letter-writing and romancing, but you've got to get out there naked in front of the crowd."
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