It’s the spring of 1987: Blue Rodeo has released its first studio album Outskirts, the band’s singles “Try” and “Rose Coloured Glasses” are dominating the airways and fans are lining up along Toronto’s Queen Street trying to get tickets to their show.
Three decades later, Canada has continued its love affair with Blue Rodeo.
Canada’s music icons are on a nation-wide tour in support of 1000 Arms, the band’s 15th studio album. They will play the Save On Foods Memorial Centre, Jan. 26.
The maturity and scope of the songs on 1000 Arms is evidence of a long and successful career.
“From the beginning of the band, we never ever felt that there was an age category for whom we were writing,” co-frontman Jim Cuddy said.
“We felt that this type of music could encompass any age, any level of maturity, anything you wanted to say, as long as it was authentic. As long as it felt free of the conventions of other songs, we could write about anything we wanted. We have never worried about whether we’d be accepted or not.”
For the 12-track album, the band recruited co-producer and engineer Tim Vessely, a founding member of the Rheostatics.
“We’ve tried to change the sound around, but (for this record) we were more convinced to sing like we sang before,” Cuddy explained. “I think as different as we try to make ourselves we always come out sounding like ourselves, and I think that’s a good thing.”
The collaboration has paid off, with the single “I Can’t Hide This” reaching the top spot on CBC’s Radio 2 Top 20 Chart. From the band’s inception, Blue Rodeo has forged its own path. And while there were times of doubt, the band stayed true to itself, and success quickly followed.
“The early days of The Horseshoe (in Toronto) when we were filling the room were so exciting. Then I would go to my job at five in the morning and all these guys would be kidding me about how shit my band was – even though they’d come out to see us all the time,” laughed Cuddy.
“It can’t get any better than the first appearance of success. We didn’t even know what success was. We just thought, ‘This is fun. This should be the way things are supposed to go. Nothing will change. We still have to keep our jobs.’”
But a few things did change. Twelve Juno awards and 31 nominations, multi-platinum selling albums and sold-out tours followed. For 30 years, Blue Rodeo has continued to be a mainstay in the Canadian touring circuit.
“Canadian music fans are very loyal. As long as the [band] performs, puts out new music and gets better [they will support you]. If you are very successful in Canada, you aren’t going to live in the hills of L.A. you are still going to be working, and that keeps you humble and down to earth. To be in a band that plays well together … why would you want to do anything else?” Reflecting back, Cuddy is able to fully appreciate where the band sits in the pantheon of music.
“Success seemed really real when we were entertaining people in The Horseshoe. That was the top of the heap for us,” Cuddy said.
“When you look back, you realize that it has just been this beautiful dream.”