Exclusive Q&A With Joel Plaskett!

Canada has produced some of the world’s most enduring songwriters and Joel Plaskett is hailed as one of the best. With countless awards to his credit, thousands of tour dates, and numerous recording and producing projects under his belt, Plaskett remains one of the most innovative and prolific artists on the scene today. We had a quick chat with him about the inspiration behind his newest album and much more.
Q: What was the inspiration behind The Park Avenue Sobriety Test?
A: The song itself was inspired by a comment. I was walking my son from daycare in my neighbourhood a few years ago when I spotted a smashed up guardrail. There’s a hard right at the bottom of this hill that leads on to this street Park Avenue. I ran in to my neighbour later and I said “Hey, did you see that smashed up guard rail?” He said, “Yea, it’s a Park Avenue sobriety test” and I thought it was a great name for a song.
The song just started as a title because it was such a great quip. That also became the name of the record because there were some miracle themes running through the song, and that made sense in the whole context of the record. I realised as we were putting the artwork of the album together that the acronym for the phrase was P.A.S.T, which suddenly made more sense.
Q: Tell me a little more about the album.
A: The Park Avenue Sobriety Test got a bit of variety for people who know my material. The songs can be on any one of my records but I also feel like it holds up like a new record – like thematically it’s a little different than anything I’ve done before.
Musically, it’s dance record with folk influences, like the fiddle and acoustic guitars. It also has a lot of rock and roll songs, but in some places there’s some new themes cropping up lyrically. Normally, I don’t write with any political agenda, but there’s a little more observation about some of things happening in the world, like the rich are getting richer, and the poor are getting poorer. I’m 40 now, and I’m starting to worry about the world and about leaving something behind for my son.
Q: How does your new album differ from your previous record, Scrappy Happiness?
A: Scrappy Happiness was made with just me and The Emergency, and it was definitely a rock record. The Park Avenue Sobriety Test has about 20 different people playing on this album and is much more collaborative.
Usually, a record is built layer by layer and you record each instrument and vocals separately. In this one, we just put 7 people on the floor and we all play at once and cut the vocals at the same time. It brings a kind of liveliness in the album that I think is different from the rest of my catalog.
Q: What is it like performing with The Emergency?
A: They are the guys who have played in my band for a long time. My drummer Dave and I have been making music since 1999. Chris, who plays bass and joined the band in 2006, and I go back a long way and its fun. They’re a huge part of my live show and it’s collaborative even though it’s all my tunes. There’s a lot of spontaneity to the stage and we improvise a lot.
Q: What can we expect at the show?
A: It’s going to be a fun, celebratory show. I’m there to tell some fun stories and it’s loose. It’s very much about the band playing and our connection with the audience. The audience is a large part of it and they bring a great energy to the show.
If you’re heading down to The Centre for this sold-out show, then come early and enjoy a delicious three-course meal at our CentreStage Lounge!
We are excited to partner with our new OnStage sponsor, Borealis Grille & Bar for an exquisite pre-show dinner on May 20. Borealis Grille & Bar serves the very best of locally crafted foods and beverages, and will be onsite in our lounge with a special three-course menu for just $29.95* per person. For more information, and to reserve your seats for the preshow dinner, simply RSVP before May 11 with your name and the number of guests joining you. There are very limited bookings available on a first-come, first-serve basis – RSVP now to save your spot!
*Price does not include tax, gratuities and all beverages. Please inform us of any allergies and sensitivities when responding.

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