Hawksley Workman may be a two-time JUNO winner and a staple of the Canadian music scene for the past two decades, but even more than that… he’s an artist. A multi-instrumentalist, celebrated producer, and musician with a signature genre-blending sound. He’s recently released a video for his single “Around Here”, and is making a stop in Niagara this Friday at Station 1 Coffeehouse – we had a quick Q&A to chat about the key to longevity in Canadian music, his musician bucket list, and his practice routine.
From The Strait: If you could play a show where the audience was filled solely with other Canadian bands & musicians, who would you want in attendance?
Hawksley Workman: Hmmmm… sometimes other musos can be kinda grumpy audience members. I’d probably choose comedians first, or theater people. But I wouldn’t mind seeing my Mounties buddies (Steve Bays and Ryan Dahle) in the audience, because you know the after-show hang would be legendary! Of course drummers are always welcome… they’ve got a built in humility that I understand. Pat steward is invited. Craig Northey for that matter. I like running with those guys.
FTS: What, in your opinion, is the key to longevity as a Canadian artist, without sacrificing your own vision?
HW: I’d say don’t become predictable. To yourself or your audience. Some of the longest lasting artists disappoint as much as the delight (I’m looking at you Neil Young). Stay on the road and be authentic. In many ways, being unique is getting easier because uniqueness is falling so quickly out of fashion. I believe it’ll always be a currency.
FTS: In your career, you’ve shared the stage with such icons as David Bowie, Morrisey, and The Cure – that’s a pretty iconic list! Who would be on your bucket list to play with?
HW: I’m really a musician nerd so I’m always interested in drummers… like Mark Guiliana and Jojo Jayer and Zach Danziger. Touring with their outfits would be cool. I’d be happy to tour as Brian Blade’s drum tech, or tea-towel holder, or drink-getter. It’d be cool to tour with Steely Dan to sit side stage every night to watch Keith Carlock… I’d love to have Wayne Krantz on tour too…
FTS: Being proficient on so many instruments must take a fair amount of discipline. What is your practice routine?
HW: It’s getting harder and harder to stay good at all of those instruments at once now… when I was younger it was easier. The bulk of my practicing happened between 8 years old and 20. Those were the obsessive years where hours and hours and hours went into practicing. Nowadays, before I tour where I’m playing guitar I spend an hour a day. Before any drumming, I start woodshedding an hour a day, and I take a drum pad with me on tour to play backstage. I always study with my opera coach of more than 20 years before any tour, he puts me on track to sing powerfully and in the healthiest way possible when I’m about to embark on a long tour…