For 26 years and 12 studio albums, Canadian country-rock combo Blue Rodeo has been a multi-platinum staple at home. Band members compiled smash singles on a “Greatest Hits” collection in 2004, were invited to play the 2010 Winter Olympics and presented with a star on Canada’s Walk of Fame in their native Toronto. But in America? Bupkes, sighs band vocalist-guitarist Jim Cuddy. They’re back in the U.S. with a new double-disc “The Things We Left Behind” and a tour that hits The City next week.
You’ve got a best-of compilation up North. Why not here? You know what? I think that just sort of hit us around the time we were splitting with major labels down there, so we’ve just never done it. And that’s something that we absolutely should do, because we can do whatever we want now. We have total control over our catalog in the States.
With Blue Rodeo and as a solo artist, you really seem tuned in online, right? Yeah. And it’s been great for a band like us, with a small, spread-out audience in the U.S. So from the very beginning, the websites were incredibly useful. They brought everybody together and made a disparate audience seem more cohesive. And we certainly sell lots of music through the websites. But we still go kind of traditional with the records — the vinyl and the CDs are still done through (co-frontman) Greg Keelor’s label TeleSoul and Redeye Distribution.
Our Lady Peace. Great Big Sea. Why doesn’t Canadian rock translate down here? First of all, we’ve come to accept that we live in a different country. It’s not an invisible border. There are some great cultural differences involved. So one of the things that we had to realize when we came down on tour is that the way we viewed our music was not necessarily the way the way the general audience viewed it. They either thought it was country that’d been screwed up, or it was rock that had too much country. But for us, it was a very natural blend. And for us, it was never a question that we had two very different singers. But in the States, they just couldn’t get their head around it.
And now you’re into more of a rock sound? We didn’t leave behind the twang — we still do that. But now we go to our library of sounds and see what we haven’t done. Like “Oh — we’ve never had flute! Or bassoon! Let’s check it out!”
IF YOU GO
Where: The Independent,
628 Divisadero St., San Francisco
When: 8 p.m. Wednesday
Contact: (415) 771-1421,
On the road: Blue Rodeo, hitmakers in their native Canada, are seeking to expand their popularity to the U.S.
Blue Rodeo, Jim Cuddy, “The Things We Left Behind”