Described as Blues Reggae Rock (by Wikipedia), and best known for songs like Digging a Hole, and Please Mr Fantasy, If I Had My Way, Big Sugar is the band that’s been around forever without ever becoming stale or past their prime. Taking a nearly 10 yr hiatus in 2003, only heightened people’s anticipation of a return, which happened in 2010.
Currently on tour supporting their new album, Yard Style, we had a chance to talk to Big Sugar singer, producer and all round talented guy Gordie Johnson.
nightMair Creative: how’s the tour going so far?
Gordie Johnson: its going really well. The audiences have been pleasantly surprised I think. This is our first time going out with an all acoustic presentation and the crowds have been fantastic; the response has been great.
nMC: we’re seeing that a lot of the upcoming dates are sold out weeks in advance of the actual show.
GJ: hmmm yes, we’ll we’ve toured Canada for years and years and we’ve had very enthusiastic responses, and I think the fact that we’re coming out and doing something completely different (acoustic), has people excited.
nMC: seeing photographs on your website and social media, the band is wearing all white on stage for the shows.. can you elaborate on that?
GJ: why all white on the stage? well, .. because its ..because of the kind of presentation that it is. The music has a more spiritual nature to it. And we’ve doubled the size of the band for this tour as well. (Colin and John Angus of The Trews joined Big Sugar on stage for two Ontario dates as well as singing on Yard Style tracks). It’s not rock and roll, its not about flash and its not about individual style… having us as a group, if everyone wears the same color it brings more of a focus to the music rather than the band members. It brings a different atmosphere.
nMC: speaking of different atmosphere, Big Sugar has teamed up with World Vision on this tour, tell us more about that.
GJ: yeah, that has been going amazingly well, and gives us a nice focus for the tour. It gives us…. hmm, it just gives us something more important and bigger than music, than rock and roll – the ability to give something back to a community that needs help, especially working with kids. Its very well suited to the message of the music and everything we’re about on this tour. To tie it in with a charity and get our fans to take part in it is special. We’re well on our way to getting each of the 150 kids in that village in Ethiopia sponsored, and being able to build a school for them all. We’re about half way there. It’s very inspiring at the end of each show to have sometimes 10 kids sponsored in one night.
nMC: Big Sugar has a reputation as being an ‘outstanding live band’ When Big Sugar took a hiatus and then came back, how did you find it? Was it hard to connect with fans again or were they just waiting for your return?
GJ: It was great really. People were quite anxious to see us come back. From the first time I walked back on the stage and played Big Sugar songs again, the response was overwhelming. Which really inspired us to keep putting out better work and keep trying new things. We could never just play only our old material or grinding out our hits -there would be no incentive for any of us to do that. So to see people’s enthusiasm for Big Sugar’s new songs (as well as our old ones), it really keeps us motivated.
nMC: no Golden Oldies band here!
GJ: (chuckling) no, no.. the only reason we came back was to make new records, and tour, and play our music. If you don’t breath life into the tunes, I don’t see the point of it.
nMC: we have a couple of quick fan questions. Aaron wants to know if you remember playing Riverfest?
GJ: Yes. We play 300+ shows a year but we remember most of them.
nMC: Dwayne wants to know “if you could create a Big Sugar super group who would be in it?”
GJ: You can just look on the Big Sugar website and see who we’re playing with now! (laughs). The people I play with now – that’s my biggest influences, my ‘ideal’. I wouldn’t swap anyone out for anyone else. I enjoy the talent of who I’m playing with now, some of the very best.
nMC: and John Angus wants to know, “what are you going to do with all that green beer now that we aren’t there to help you drink it?”
GJ: (laughs).. I’m thinking that would have to be John Angus MacDonald of the Trews. And our Heineken. (laughs again). We have a huge stock pile just waiting for the Trews to come back.
nMC: its been a pleasure talking with you, thanks very much. We’ll see you in Kelowna March 6.
GJ: thank you!
Big Sugar’s tour schedule can be found on their Website – and if you’re lucky enough to secure a ticket, go! Many of the shows are already sold out so get going. Big Sugar roll into Kelowna’s Mary Irwin Theatre on March 6, 7pm start. The band will be saying hello after the show, at the merch and World Vision booths.
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