One day I got a call from Michael Timmins with a concept idea for the next album. Since there was still a lot of people that didn’t know of me, he thought it would be cool to show my two major musical sides with two different records but packaged under the same roof. ‘Nonsense’ would be a gritty-bluesy-rock ‘n’ roll album and ‘Heartache’ would be a folk-roots-singer-songwriter album. How many times does a record company ask the artist if they want to make a double-LP? I definitely had enough songs but was worried it would be too much information for the public and press to digest. Mike convinced me that they would either listen to it or not, whether it was 8 or 80 songs. He would eventually be right.
‘Nonsense and Heartache’ was recorded as two separate albums, starting with ‘Heartache’ during a week in January 2016 and 3 days in June of that year for ‘Nonsense.’ We also wanted to bring it back to the core of the band, so it was just The Situation and I plus Angie Hilts adding some harmony on a few tracks (including the wonderful closer “Pawn Shop Piano” with some of its lines inspired by my tours in the States). “Another Dead Radio Star” came out of my Dad’s stories of listening to radio shows like ‘The Shadow’ when he was a kid in St. John’s and had other radio references such as The Nighthawks of Kansas City and the 1930’s hit “I’d Give A Million Tomorrows For Just One Yesterday.” “He’s The Lonely One Now” I think was probably from listening to a lot of Randy Newman at the time while “On The Fishing Line” showed the influence of Lightnin’ Hopkins. Actually that song was only recorded once and the band had never heard it before, so we just stayed on that blues riff. A lot of the songs on ‘Nonsense’ were actually edited down from 30-40 minute versions. I wanted the band to be completely relaxed. I love the guitar interplay from James McKie and I on songs like “Forged Check” and “She’s The Best Writer You’ve Never Heard Of.” Kyle Sullivan’s creativity as a drummer really shines on the latter song, a groove that he quickly went into after hearing the song for the first time in the studio and we fell into it with him. Also on songs like “Troubled Morn” (written after an early morning stroll around Vancouver) and “Buckskin Wall.” Dan Mock played upright on all of ‘Heartache’ and electric bass on ‘Nonsense’ and he’s so locked in with the band, one can miss just how great he is but when you really listen it’s rewarding. James brought a new instrument into the fold and lap steel really adds a flavor to ‘Heartache’. Timmins left us alone and never got in the way. When he would make a suggestion it was always what the song needed. A little tweak but he really wanted to capture what I do and what the band brings to it.
A year after its release here in Canada, it came out in Europe and the UK through Proper Music (Nick Lowe, Richard Thompson, Cowboy Junkies) where it started gaining attention including a full page feature in the European Rolling Stone. We toured there for the first time in support of the album where I was met with fans I didn’t even know I had. The unusual decision to put out a double album in today’s climate paid off. Thanks Mike. Note: the album cover shot by Laura Proctor Photo was taken in our Toronto apartment, unplanned but had the perfect mood.
Due to distribution issues, this album is unavailable on Bandcamp (waiving their revenue share today) but the compilation ‘Too Broke To Die’ features some of the tracks, which has been added to the store today. Check it out: