MUSIC : THE TRAGICALLY HIP : T-Shirt Bound : * The five-member Canadian band started five years ago as rock ‘n’ rollers with a mission--beer.
The Grateful Dead. Moby Grape. The 13th Floor Elevators. The Electric Prunes. Zodiac Mindwarp and the Love Reaction. Oingo Boingo. Millions of Dead Cops. Stukas Over Burbank. Gaye Bikers on Acid. The Bonedaddys. The Screaming Blue Messiahs. The Dead Milkmen. Toad the Wet Sprocket. Eleventh Dream Day. Rock ‘n’ roll and funny names go together like cops and doughnut shops. Or mothers-in-law and hell.
This week’s happening new band with the memorable name that’s coming to our area is none other than the Tragically Hip from north of the border. Pretty clever, pretty funny, huh? Couldn’t you see yourself in the shirt? You’ll soon get the chance to achieve sartorial splendor when the Tragically Hip play the Carnaval Club in Santa Barbara on Monday night.
The Tragically Hip got their name out of a Mike Nesmith video entitled “Elephant Parts,” which appeared, among other places, on the Playboy Channel. So much for redeeming social value and all that. . . .
The band first formed five years ago in their Canadian hometown of Kingston, a tourist, college town on the New York border. And the Tragically Hip were rock ‘n’ rollers with a mission--beer.
“Three out of the five of us first met at Kingston University,” bassist Gord Sinclair said in a recent interview. “Then there weren’t any rock ‘n’ roll venues in Kingston, just all these Top 40 disco places. So we formed a band and played on campus so our friends could have a place to drink beer. We used to play a lot of old Stones and Yardbirds covers, plus obscure rock ‘n’ roll stuff. We follow the classic two guitars, bass and drums format.”
The band is touring in a thinly veiled effort to sell copies of their album, “Up to Here,” since local radio is doing its usual nothing to promote and play new music.
“We’ve been touring back and forth across the U. S. for the last six months,” Sinclair said. “The album came out last September, but it’s taken awhile for it to get rolling. ‘New Orleans Is Sinking’ is starting to get some air play. We just wanted to make a record that you could listen to from start to finish. We’ve been playing the songs off the record for about a year now. We write as a group.”
En route to becoming your basic rock gods, the Tragically Hip face an additional problem indigenous to their Zip code. “For a Canadian band, it’s really tough to get across the border,” noted Sinclair, who has a degree in history. “You can’t just cross the border to play. For example, Watertown, N.Y., is right across the border from Kingston--and if we wanted to play there, we couldn’t without filling out a million forms with proof that we could provide some sort of essential services not otherwise available in the States.
“It’s weird. You can go to the States to spend money but not to make money.”
The latter matter seems to have been handled, at least for the time being. A few years ago, the band members recorded a seven-song extended play album that caused them to be signed by MCA Records; so, for now, they’re in there.
The Tragically Hip rock, not a lot of slow ones, no Paula Abdul covers. Their sound is a little retro, ‘60s-sounding, and singer Gordon Downie has this distinctive quivering, booming voice. The swagger and the stagger sort of make these guys a north-of-the-border version of Dramarama.
They can write too. From “Boots or Hearts,” check it out: “Fingers and toes, fingers and toes, 40 things we share, 41 if you include the fact that we don’t care. . . .”
“The thing for us is the music,” Sinclair said. “The live performances are dear to our hearts--that’s what we’re all about. We’re a live rock ‘n’ roll band.”
Opening for the Tragically Hip will be another band with a funny name, Flies on Fire.
* THE DETAILS: The Carnaval Club is at 634 State St. in Santa Barbara.