The Tragically Hip’s Paul Langlois Pleads Not Guilty

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Guitarist and songwriter Paul Langlois is once again stepping out from the shadows. As a part of Canadian music institution the Tragically Hip, Langlois has sold millions of records, earned 14 Juno Awards and is an inductee of Canada’s Walk of Fame.

With promotional efforts behind the latest Tragically Hip record Now For Plan A largely wrapped up, Langlois has proven that you can’t keep a good man down. With his sophomore solo record Not Guilty having been released earlier this month, Langlois performs at Moncton’s Tide & Boar on Sunday evening.

From their formation as a band in the first half of the 1980s until the time that Tragically Hip vocalist Gord Downie released his first solo record Coke Machine Glow in 2001, none of the members of the Hip had pursued musical interests outside of the group.

Langlois believes that after Downie dared step off the Hip ledge, it in turn encouraged others in the band to do the same.

“Gord releasing his record was really the first time anyone in the band had moved sideways to do something on their own,” Paul says. “It wasn’t a matter of anyone in the band being scared to step away from the band. It was simply more a matter of there not being a whole lot of free time where the band didn’t have something on the go and because of that, stepping outside of the Hip to make music probably just wasn’t crossing anyone’s minds.

“As time commitments to the Hip began to lessen somewhat around the turn of the century, everyone in the band was good with people starting to look at projects outside of the band. The general idea among us is that we all remain committed to the Hip first and foremost; that is our favourite thing to do, how we make our living and who we all are. That being said, everyone in the band was OK with the situation changing as well.”

Langlois says that the experience of making Not Guilty couldn’t have been more different than his solo debut, Fix This Head. Increased confidence aside, Langlois completely revamped his approach to the art of making a new record.

“My first solo album was (more or less) me messing around on my own. It was very much a solitary process, playing all of the instruments and having to build up each of the songs from the ground up. It was an experimentation of sorts: can I play the drums and have it sound OK? I had done a lot of backing vocals with the Hip but hadn’t necessarily sung much on my own. It was a great experience but nothing like the making of Not Guilty . This time around, I went into the studio with my band; they were very supportive, very encouraging and very enthusiastic about the songs.”

Langlois is understandably excited about bringing Not Guilty to the masses. With the Tragically Hip having long outgrown small venues in Canada, he says that having the opportunity to play in relatively intimate venues like The Tide & Boar is something that he is looking forward to.

“It is going to be nice to get back to smaller venues to perform,” he says. “The Hip still plays smaller venues when we play Europe and the United States but ultimately, with this tour, I just wanted to get into places where I could get in front of people and still make it feel like a full-on show. I am very comfortable with my role in the Hip but being the centre of attention truly is a different role for me. I am trying not to put too much pressure on myself.”

Article published in the November 15, 2013 edition of the Times & Transcript