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Ron Sexsmith – Interview

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Ron Sexsmith interview Jan 29,2012
By: Darrell Shelley









1.  You released “love Shines” in 2010. Was it difficult to make a movie about yourself?  Were there times you had doubts about making this film? and or How was the overall experience?

It was difficult having cameras around while we were making the record. It was never my idea to make a film in the first place. Doug Arrowsmith started filming me about 7 years ago and I didn’t honestly know what sort of movie he was hoping to make – I guess I never thought it would actually come out. When Bob Rock came into the picture, suddenly Doug found some funding things got really intense. I think they did a good job although it’s hard for me to watch it.


2.  You got to work with bob rock on your latest album “Long Player Late bloomer”, was there an intimidation factor goin in?   Was there a learning curve in dealing with a producer who’s so direct?

Well to be honest, the evening before I flew to LA to start recording, I had an anxiety attack which had never happened to me before. I don’t think it was intimidation though. I think there was a lot of stress leading up to the sessions because I was coming out of a depression and It was hard pulling all the money together to start. It all culminated in me having this “attack.” But I’ve always worked with producers who were direct and I felt really comfortable with Bob.


3. You’ve said that being a household name is notbig deal for you, how’s your opinion on modern media towards you?   Or do you not pay attention to what people say in the media?

I didn’t realize I was a household name… it certainly doesn’t feel like that. I think the media in general has been good to me though I try to not to pay too much attention.


4.  Your songs have been covered by many greats including Rod Stewart with “Secret Heart”.  If you could have anyone cover one of your songs who hasn’t yet, who would it be and which song would you propose?

Perhaps Tony Bennett. I’d probably send him something “Wastin’ Time” or “Reason For Our Love.”


5.  Chris Martin on “Gold in Them Hills”, how was he to work with? What’s his personality like?

Chris is a great guy although I wasn’t there when he put his voice on my song. I was touring in Austria and they were mixing my album in LA. In fact nobody even asked me if I was ok with it. A few weeks later I received a cd in the mail and I didn’t recognize the guy singing on it and I was kind of upset about it. Ultimately though, I think he sang it very well and obviously the label at the time was very excited about it so we put it on as a bonus track. Afterwards, I went on a very long tour with Coldplay and Chris would come out and sing it with me each night. He’s a very good person and he’s always nice to me… the whole band actually are great guys.


6.  Do you think there’s a such a thing as a rock star in Canada? Or does one need to move to the US for that type of silliness?

I don’t think that we as Canadians have much patience for “Rock Star” behavior. We leave that to the Americans and the Brits.


7.  Favourite food?



8.  Dylan used to paste his lyrics on his guitar.  do you ever forget lyrics. What do you do to remember lyrics on stage?

I have a great memory for lyrics… Can’t remember anything else though.


9. Do you still collect vinyl?  Tell us your opinion on vinyl vs CD. Any notable records you own that influenced you?

Yes, I listen mostly to vinyl at home. It just sounds better than cd in my opinion. So many records have influenced me, I wouldn’t know where to begin. “New Morning” by Bob Dylan had a huge effect on me, just about every Kinks record and I’d have to say the Best Of Leonard Cohen changed my life.


10. How do you feel about digital downloads/internet is it a good thing for artists these days or is all the money going to labels?

I’ve never downloaded anything. I still buy CD’s and records but that’s just because I’m old and I’m not very good with computers.


11. In the explore music charts interview in 2011 you said that when you were signed to Intercope you heard an exec say “We don’t wanna make art, we wanna buy art”. Is this something that you think transcends as a dichotomy to all great songwriters of our day? Are labels losing touch with quality songs vs image?

I think it’s the prevailing attitude in the industry these days. There’s no incentive anymore for “record people” to get excited about great music. It’s all about the bottom line these days because all of the labels are struggling. It’s a sad state of affairs.


12.  You’ve worked with Steve Earle over the years, what is he like as a person?  Any plans to work together in the future?

Steve’s great… he’s a character, very opinionated. I don’t think that we’ll work together again but you never know.


13. Do you think that modern day pop has anything to offer or is it all garbage?

I wouldn’t say it’s all garbage and truthfully I’m not really that familiar with much of it. On a surface level a lot of it sounds robotic and shrill to my ears. And I don’t relate much to the lyrics which seem aimed mostly at juveniles. But I’m sure there are those who are bringing something to the table.


14.  You’ve been nominated for 6 Junos and you won 2. Do winning awards mean anything to you?

It’s nice to win but it’s more fun to just go to the Junos. You get to see friends and for the most part it’s a free bar.


15. So your 11th album “Long Player Late Bloomer”. Do you ever feel like quitting? What was the hardest sacrifice you’ve had to make for your music career?

I thought about quitting often, especially before I made this record. But then I end up writing more songs and I get excited again.


16. Any words of advice for aspiring young musicians?

Can’t think of anything offhand.


17.  Any great stories/memories about Newfoundland?Whats your favourite thing about St. John’s?

I love St John’s… It’s magical. I remember going to a great house party there once after a gig. I love that Fish N Chip place too – can’t remember what it’s called though.


By: Darrell Shelley

Ron will be playing at the Majestic in St. John’s on Thursday, Feb 2. Doors open at 7:30 pm but space is very limited so get tickets early.

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