Hawksley Workman is a happy guy. It could be that, as an established Canadian rock auteur with a slew of Junos under his belt, he’s finally coming back to Nelson, a place he hasn’t performed music since he “quit high school, joined a church musical, and played the Nelson United Church of Canada in the ‘ 90s” in a phase carefully described as “excruciatingly embarrassing.”
Or it could be because his new band, Mounties, is set to hit the road. Mounties, a collaborative project consisting of Steve Bays (of Hot Hot Heat) and Ryan Dahle (of Age of Electric and Limblifter) is a triumvirate of iconoclastic Canadian noisemakers and it has Workman seriously excited. “You’re not supposed to feel these pleasant, positive vibes in the music business,” he says. “You’re supposed to be properly jaded and believe everybody’s out to get you. But all of a sudden I feel really, really, really excited about music.”
The band’s debut record, Thrash Rock Legacy, is an ambitious, raucous, ’90s-inspired futuristic joyride in which Workman returns to his first instrument: the drums. “It was the drums that as a kid I sat and had my big rock and roll dreams behind.”
For Workman, who has spent the last 15 years recording his own solo albums, which have run the gamut from glam rock to hymnal folk, Mounties is a chance to, as he says, “take a bit of pressure off.
I know that when it comes time to write lyrics the three of us are all trying to impress and outdo one another but a funny thing is that there’s no ego. It’s not like we’re The Police, with Sting and Stewart Copeland punching each other in the studio. We’ve all been frontmen. And we’re really happy that when somebody comes up with an idea it’s almost like, ‘Oh good! That means I can be lazy.’”
For a brand new band, the three members of Mounties already have a combined 60 years of experience touring and recording. When asked if Mounties could have worked if it was formed when each member was at the beginning of their careers — three huge musical personalities sharing the same spotlight — Workman pauses: “I don’t think we could have. Honestly, I was too busy in those days trying to make my own mark.”
He continues: “Now we’re not really interested in proving anything to anybody, which I know that sounds so Noel Gallagher, like ‘give us a break!’ but it is true that this record, this thing, was made to create pure joy.”
Their tour is set to hit Spiritbar on Monday, March 24. “When we formed this band,” Workman laughs, “we were like, ‘we’re never going to get in a van and grind it out on the road!’ Well, f*ck. We’re getting into a van tomorrow and grinding it out on the road for three weeks. And we couldn’t be bloody happier.”