With more than 10 years of songwriting and performing under their belts, Toronto band, The Sadies, have been steadily accumulating both momentum and critical acclaim with their latest offering, Darker Circles. Following up 2009’s New Seasons, this haunting and pensive album brings musicians Dallas and Travis Good, Mike Belitsky and Sean Dean together with sought-after Jayhawks’ producer, Gary Louris, to create a distinctive blend of country, psychedelic, rock and surf. Taking a break from their current tour, drummer Mike Belitsky, speaks on the band’s history, their shared aspirations and what’s planned for the future.
How did you come to be a part of The Sadies?
I joined the Sadies in 1998 after their second drummer left the band before a tour. I wasn’t living in Toronto at the time so we existed as a band for five years without all of us being in the same city. Strangely enough, when I did move to Toronto, Travis moved away…I guess we weren’t meant to all live in the same city at the same time!
Does each record get you closer to the best music you’ve made together?
Yes…I think we’ve been working to make each one of our releases more accomplished than the last. We’re always trying to think of ways to improve ourselves both on album and on stage. As far as specifics, it’s hard to say. We just keep trying to grow as musicians, writers and performers.
How do your songs typically take shape?
We have no set formula. Sometimes [our songs] come out of intense collaborations and other times they arrive more fully realized by an individual. However, once each of us puts our stamp on a song – it inevitably becomes its own entity. [The guys] surprise me…positively.
Why such wistful undertones on Darker Circles?
I suppose as [we] get more comfortable in the studio, there is a tendency to be able to express deeper and darker emotions… without being self-conscious.
You’re currently touring to support the album. How’s it going?
I enjoy being able to perform on a consistent basis, and I like the routine of knowing where I have to be each day and what I have to do. I also like the feeling of being a ‘part of the whole,’ if you will. Being on tour and recording are two of the biggest ways I feel I am part of something bigger than myself.
Do your performances differ greatly from your recorded music?
Live shows have a tendency to evolve and adapt on a nightly basis. Recording is finite. Once you record, mix and produce it, it will forever be heard as that. Live shows have that ‘intangible’ element of being a different venue and a different audience night to night.
You recently covered This Wheel’s On Fire with Neil Young…
Yes! We were asked by Garth Hudson, who was curator of [A Canadian Celebration of the Band], if we would want to be Neil Young’s band for the recording. Of course we said yes – and the experience was one of the high points of my life.
Have you developed many meaningful relationships within the music community?
Definitely, I have. When we first started touring we relied on other musicians for their support – and often their couches and floors. The relationships and bonds we formed then are everlasting and will transcend any successes or hardship.
What aspirations do The Sadies share for the future?
I think we aspire to always challenge ourselves to make the best music, both live and recorded, that we can. There’s always room to improve as individual musicians and as a band.
And what projects are you looking forward to?
We’ve been working with Gord [Downie] from The Tragically Hip on a recording project. I’m really stoked with what we’ve come up with so far and am looking forward to completing that recording, and then starting to think about a new Sadies recording. As of today I have no exact timeline for these… only the future!
See The Sadies live on tour: visit www.thesadies.net to find a concert date near you.