I was recently given the opportunity to meet up with Rob Baker of the Tragically Hip and interview him for a project I’m working on about Canada’s music history. While not everything we talked about will fit into that topic, I wanted to make sure the quirky facts I learned weren’t lost! So here goes…four things you may not know about The Tragically Hip.
1. Man Machine Poem was originally Dougie Stardust
The album Man Machine Poem was originally very similar looking, only on the cover were arms throwing the same baby in the air (the baby with the mullet we’ve all come to love off the last album). This baby was known as Dougie Stardust- a playful homage to David Bowie. The inside spread however was totally different with Polaroid shots of a little girl with her cat and a back cover that was purposefully fashioned to remind people of the Clash’s epic London Calling album. However, with the untimely death of David Bowie and the decision made that the band didn’t want this to be a light hearted album in the end, the concept of Dougie Stardust was dropped.
Along with Dougie Stardust, a new beer featuring a “mullet mirror’ (a label with mirror qualities that had a mullet printed on it so you could figure out what you look like with this awesome haircut) was also dropped. The albums were prematurely shipped out to a few record shops and they had to be tracked down. These original albums were pressed in the Czech Republic by a world renowned company.
2. Rob Baker gets mistaken for Dave Grohl
When Dave Grohl was brought up in conversation, Rob let us know that he gets mistaken for Dave Grohl quite often. Once, he told us, a lady asked for his autograph and as he was about to sign she said “You are Dave Grohl, aren’t you?” To which he replied, “Yes I am” and signed away.
3. Gord Sinclair wrote most of the songs in the beginning
When the band came together, bass player Gord Sinclair was actually the most complete songwriter and he wrote a lot of the songs. Over the years, each of the band members refined this craft and the decision was made to say every song was written by The Tragically Hip, not a single band member. Rob said these are the things that ruin bands. Over time, songwriting became more of the collective process we think of with The Tragically Hip and it seems to have served them well!
4. Johnny Fay has a record lathe that he’s used exactly one time.
You can hear it at the beginning of Toronto #4. Fay recorded the drum loop and cut it to vinyl. You can hear the needle drop at the very beginning of the song. Isn’t that great?
Want to know more? You’ll have to wait for the project!