The Sadies are one of today’s hardest working bands, having put out five albums since signing with Yep Roc Records four years ago (including the new release New Seasons), and have worked in various formats with alt country/indie crooner darling Neko Case. The Sadies are fronted by the Good brothers (Dallas and Travis) and have been making a name for themselves since growing up around their father’s (and uncles’) band, (Canadian country Hall of Fame legends)The Good Brothers.
New Seasons was recorded in Canada and co-produced with former Jayhawk Gary Louris. The album introduces 13 new tracks (2 co-written with longtime friend Rick White of Elevator and Eric’s Trip) into the Sadies’ catalog. This effort is defined by fewer instrumental numbers, with a greater emphasis on the brotherly harmonies of frontmen Dallas and Travis Good.. Travis and Dallas’ pre-mentioned father and uncles lay down autoharp, banjo and guitar, while mom Margaret Good contributes backing vocals, and Howe Gelb (Giant Sand) adds piano to a track.
While not actually beginning as a back-porch bluegrass picking family, the brothers have found themselves making their way to that point after choosing their own paths. The brothers Good on guitars and vocals, along with upright bassist Sean Dean and drummer Mike Belitsky, have procured a brand of music that invokes more psychedelic aspects than country, although they hold a true western swing in their sound. A sort of psychedelic honky tonk describes their sound best, which has been honed through the years with various tweaks and experiments.
Glide’s Sarah Moore recently sat down with guitarist and vocalist Dallas Good to discuss their new album, working with Neko, and growing up Good.
What kind of role did music have in your house growing up?
I guess I would say that I would have a different perspective on the music business than most people because I was brought up on that side of it. But overall we weren’t exactly like a back porch bluegrass family where we all played together by the fire. That’s just what we sort of tried to become. Actually that’s not fair to say because my father’s band is an exceptional bluegrass band that started out that way and that’s what they do now. But I mean growing up my brother and I weren’t forced to travel on the country circuit as some sort of side show vaudeville act. We gravitated toward the music we liked and our family was encouraging at all times but then it happened that we returned more to a style that was in tune with what they do.
And your parents and uncles contribute to New Seasons, correct?
Yeah, they play on pretty much all of our records, and we did get them in on this last one which was nice. This isn’t exactly new, and in a way they’re featured less than normal because I’ve separated them. Normally they would play in a group but this one they’re used individually. We’re fortunate that way. We also got my mother to sing on this one.
Do you think New Seasons differs at all from your previous releases?
I don’t think that the material or style is anything new. I think it’s basically what we’ve always been doing. But with time and experience and so on you get to a point where maybe it’s easier to do what you want to do or, if not, it’s just easier to satisfy yourself with the best job you think you’re capable of. I’m happy with this one but I think that’s sort of the stock answer of the musician, right? “Oh, yeah, we’ve combed peaks and things are great,” but you never know. It’s always for the listener to say. But I can truly say that we are enjoying each other’s company….that’s a weird way of saying that we are very comfortable on stage more so than we’ve ever been and we’re happy doing what we do.
I think that comes across on your disc, and definitely on the live disc (In Concert Volume One) you put out last year.
Yeah, we recorded two nights in Toronto and it was very fun.
What brought you to Spain to do some of the recording for New Seasons?
We’d been asked to do some shows over there as well. We often go to the UK and the Netherlands and it fell at a time where Gary [Louris (Jayhawks, Golden Smog)] was expecting to be vacationing in that part of Spain that he’s familiar with already where he knew the studio. It made perfect sense and we had nothing to lose and lots to gain. Even if it didn’t come out it wouldn’t be like we were falling short of our expectations by Yep Roc or anything else. We were happy with the end result and here we are.
What was the studio like?
The studio itself was bunker-style and it was very nice. We did about 5 of the 13 songs there in the span of about 7 working days. But that was the first time we’d ever worked with Gary and we were under very deliberate rules to go with things that were completely open for criticism and that we were happy to rework. I know at least my brother and I came to the process with Gary in mind to a certain extent and then the more work the quicker we work. I’m certainly looking forward to doing more with him as soon as possible.
So it was a great introduction to Gary for you.
I mean we’ve known Gary for years and we’ve talked about doing it for years but it was as good as I could have ever hoped. It would have really sucked to have had a terrible experience with my very good friend in a studio.
How did you get involved with Neko Case?
We were her band when she was trying to tour on her first recording which was a collection of different friends of hers from different bands. It was by no means a touring ensemble. She asked us, we were happy to comply, and we toured, and since then my brother and I have been on all her records except for the first one. We’ve been very busy so it hasn’t necessarily been a constant relationship. She’s very fortunate now to have an incredible band and over the years we’ve always just come back to working together for one reason or another. It’s something that I always look forward to and always enjoy.
What music have you been listening to lately?
I haven’t had a chance to listen to much lately. Nothing is as definitive of what I do as I’d like. There’s always Chuck Berry. Other stuff is either too eclectic to name or it doesn’t really apply to the band. I certainly have an affinity toward psychedelic music. I listen to more of that than anything country. Our records over the years have evolved slightly and taken on different emphasis.
Do you think that’s one of the keys to maintaining a solid fan base?
We just do what we do and we hope something will click.