5 Questions with Rags #51 - Craig Northey of The Odds

The Odds have been a staple of Canadian for music for as long as I can remember. (At the time of this writing, I'm nearly 33, so take my memory for what you will.) If you grew up with any kind Canadian radio in the last 20 years you know the Odds, I promise. (This one, or This one, or perhaps This one, or maybe This one.) And if you don't know the Odds, you need to open your ears more because they are fucking awesome. They write witty, silly, intelligent, sometimes bizarre and always absurdly catchy rock tunes. As my life has slowly been draining itself of the more straight-ahead rock parts of my listening diet, the Odds have remained on rotation because they just make good, quality music. In anticipation of the band's return to my beloved Victoria on May 18, I caught up with vocalist and guitar player Craig Northey from Toronto as he prepared to tour, as a dummer (!), with Canadian supergroup The Transcanada Highwaymen to talk about funky ghosts, Bret 'The Hitman' Hart and Davey Jones' weight.

The Odds, May 18 @ Distrikt Nightclub, Victoria

POWER STANCE 101 with Craig Northey. Photo by Rob Porter/RMS Media.

POWER STANCE 101 with Craig Northey. Photo by Rob Porter/RMS Media.

1. Do you remember the first album you bought with your own money?

I remember the first album that I got that was mine, and that was the Beatles' Hey Jude. The first album I bought with my own money could have been The Monkees' one with “99 Pounds” on it, but I can't remember the name. (Upon research, the album Craig is referring to is Changes.) “She was 99 pounds, some kinda dynamite,” which would be an eating disorder now. Davey Jones was a really little guy, so maybe that makes sense. Maybe he was 101 pounds.

2. If you could spend the day with anyone living or dead, who would it be and what would you do?

Oh my, that's a hard one. I think it would be driving around Toronto with Steven Page. Oh wait, I'm doing that! My life is fucking awesome! We're going to get tacos, and that's part of the day.

3. You're living the dream. When is the last time you did something for the first time?

That's a great question. I try to do that more and more as time goes on. If someone says to me, “Have you ever done this?” My wife and I have a rule that we have to say “Yes.” I think playing drums in this band [The Transcanada Highwaymen] is the biggest, newest thing. I don't think I ever did a gig in my life, I'm 55, playing drums and I actually have to be good at it. The first time we played was the first time I'd ever played drums, not being the third encore of an Odds gig when Pat runs out to the front to start singing some Englebert Humperdink tune while I jump on the drums.

So, you're enjoying the drumming then?

I love it. I just have to not get caught counting with my mouth. It's sort of like an actor lip-reading the lines of the other actors and mouthing the words. I have to be careful just to smile and bob my head.

Craig Northey's serious face. Photo by Rob Porter/RMS Media. 

Craig Northey's serious face. Photo by Rob Porter/RMS Media

4. What's your most positive memory from elementary or high school?

Lots of things flash to mind when you ask that. That's a long period of time. One time, it was Grade 9 or something, there was a rugby practice and it was really wet out, part of the field was basically a swamp. I remember the biggest guy on the team coming at me, he usually could just run right through me, and for some reason I stood my ground and turned at just the right time as he was going to run right over me. I brought him down like a canoe and it was so wet that I rode him for about 20 feet. It was really fun. I don't know why that came to mind.

5. Have you ever seen or felt a ghost or ghost-like presence?

Yes. I'm not sure if they're real but I've seen or felt it, meaning I hallucinated it or something. One time during an Odds recording, I had a cable plugged into a wah-pedal and it was in the middle of the floor and I was on the other side of the studio. I can't rememeber which song it's on, it's on Good Weird Feeling, I think, and at the end of it someone said, “That was great when you kicked the wah pedal.” And I said, “I never did. I was on the other side of the room.” But there's a ghost in Mushroom Studios so we always figured the ghost played the wah.

That's a pretty helpful ghost!

That's a funky ghost, I'm telling you. Some funky ghost that can work a wah-pedal.

6. The guest question comes from B.A. Johnston...Which 80's wrestler best describes your band?

I'm going to have to go with Bret Hart. Just because he's my favourite of the era. Macho Man and Bret Hart, but I gotta go with Bret. Not the boasting about “The Best There Ever Was,” but just quietly doing it, being good at his gig. I'm going to go with Bret just because I dig him.

Bret Hart always has a serious face.

Bret Hart always has a serious face.

Keep with up all the Odds and ends (See what I did there?) at oddsmusic.com.