Pause & Play

The tragically hip are in vogue

Each twist and turn on the road and other events along the way for The Tragically Hip are being captured on paper by bassist Gord Sinclair.

Not in a diary, but in postcards to his children back home in Kingston, Ontario.

“My oldest boy dragged out this gigantic shoebox full of postcards during a break we had over Easter weekend,” Sinclair said during a recent stop in Philadelphia, where he was hunting down a card of the city’s famed Liberty Bell. “It’s just been one of those years, where some things have been happening and we’re just along for the ride more than anything.”

Among those experiences: a headlining U.S. tour, including three straight sellouts in Chicago; performing on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” on March 25; opening dates on the Robert Plant/Jimmy Page tour in the coming weeks, and opening for the Rolling Stones in Europe this summer.

“First off, opening for Plant and Page and the Stones are the kinds of things you can’t say no to,” Sinclair said. “It’s a great opportunity … you think back to years when you were 15 in the basement and listening to ‘Stairway to Heaven’ or ‘Brown Sugar.’

“I don’t want to say these are going to be milestones for us, because that sounds so cliche, but it’s yet another experience I can write down in postcards to my kids.”

In America, The Tragically Hip – formed nearly 10 years ago in Kingston – is finally receiving widespread recognition it earned years ago in Canada. (Last month, the quintet was named Entertainers of the Year at the Juno Awards.) Their new Atlantic album, “Day For Night,” is a palatable package of expressive lyrics and compelling moodiness.

Sinclair said things are clicking because he and his bandmates – guitarists Bobby Baker and Paul Langlois, singer Gordon Downie and drummer Johnny Fay – are, first and foremost, friends.

“That’s the real beauty of being in a group with your friends, that you get to share all these experiences and ups and downs,” he said. “The road is probably the hardest part of what we do for a living. I think that’s a lot of what ends up breaking up bands who might not know each other all that well.

“It’s not so much the playing that gets to you, it’s the time spent in between. The cool thing with us, we’ve all grown up doing this. … We’ve gone from writing little love songs in our early 20s to more meaningful stuff now that we’re in our early 30s.”

“Day For Night,” more so than any other Hip album, was a collective effort, Sinclair said. They share writing credits on all the songs.

“We’ve been playing together so long and we know each other’s styles so well that we can go in with some confidence and you have a half-finished idea and you know that someone’s going to have something that’s going to complement it.

“This co-dependency really works out for us.”

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