ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, FEB. 5, 1998
By Steve Newton
Last month’s ice storm back east took no prisoners, but Barstool Prophets singer-guitarist Graham Greer got off pretty easy. The native of Cornwall, Ontario, was residing in “the fortunate end of town” when the storm hit, so he only lost power for three days, while his folks spent three weeks shivering by candlelight.
Greer’s close scrape with the storm of the century hasn’t inspired the lyricist to compose any cautionary odes to Mother Nature, though.
“Maybe we’ll just cover Platinum Blonde’s ‘Standing in the Dark’ or something,” says the 26-year-old rocker, unconcerned that threat might hurt attendance when his band plays the Starfish Room on Saturday (February 7).
When the frozen rain assaulted his burg of 40,000 souls, Greer probably wished that he was situated somewhere a little further south—like Memphis, maybe. That’s where his group recorded its latest CD, Last of the Big Game Hunters, with producer Joe Hardy—although, as Greer explains over the phone from frosty Cornwall, it wasn’t Hardy’s experience with the likes of ZZ Top and Steve Earle that made him their first choice.
“Joe was the only one out of the half-dozen bigger names that we talked to that said he didn’t want to change very much. He loved our demos, and he just wanted to make them sonically better.”
Hunters was recorded at the legendary Ardent Studios—where the Tragically Hip helmed their breakthrough Up to Here record—as well as at Hardy’s studio in the garage behind his home. Greer says the band spent much of its Tennessee time hangin’ out among the weeping willows in Hardy’s backyard. According to Greer, the veteran roots-rock producer enjoys an almost hermitlike existence.
“He’s got a hacienda-style house with a pink roof,” divulges Greer, “and he rarely leaves it unless he has to. He and his wife order in food all the time, and he has paper plates ’cause he doesn’t know how to use his dishwasher. He’s quite a character, and I hope to model my life after him.”
Greer also hopes that the tracks laid down in Memphis will strike a chord with the Barstool Prophets’ growing fan base, like those on the previous Crank CD. The riff-happy quartet has been touring across Canada for the past six years, finding particularly enthusiastic acceptance in Northern Ontario locations such as Timmins, Sault Ste. Marie, and Sudbury. In B.C. that northern vibe continues, with Prince George mentioned as a most rewarding West Coast destination.
“You get to know all the laundromats,” quips Greer of paying dues on the grueling small-town circuit, “but the audiences increase every time, so you feel like you’re getting somewhere.”