When it comes to Canadian rock music, Trooper’s place in the history books is well secured – and with good reason.
Between their 1975 debut record and 2013, the group amassed multiple gold and platinum records thanks to songs like ‘Raise a Little Hell,’ ‘We’re Here for a Good Time (Not A Long Time)’ and ‘The Boys in the Bright White Sports Car.’ These songs, along with a dozen others, are rightfully considered to be a part of the Canadian musical fabric in much the same way as tracks by The Tragically Hip and the Guess Who.
Live, Trooper continues to be a force to be reckoned with. While the days of seemingly endless touring are long behind the band, the group continues to play in the vicinity of 30 to 40 shows a year right across Canada.
From his home in British Columbia, Trooper vocalist Ra Maguire says that while the number of shows the group is playing each year has diminished over the course of the last decade, there is in fact a trade off that works to the fans’ benefit:
‘Maybe 10 years ago, we could play closer to 100 shows a year,’ McGuire says. ‘There were a lot of nightclubs that we could play on weekdays that are gone now. As the amount of shows has diminished, the quality of the shows has improved, so it all seems to be working itself out.’
Perhaps not surprisingly, the Trooper live show continues to be an important part of the band’s identity. Not only does it offer the band the opportunity to do what it does best, it is also allows Trooper to remain an active presence in cities right across the country. And after more than three decades in the business, the demand for Trooper’s live shows remains as popular as ever. Career longevity like Trooper’s is a rare commodity in the music business.
‘We get most of our fuel from the folks who keep coming to our shows. It is not hard to get motivated to play for sold-out shows of great fans. Live music, while less popular generally, is still real important for a lot of people. A good band is a good band,’ Ra says.
‘We sincerely appreciate having such a strong and loyal following. There are many folks who have attended more than 20 Trooper shows, while some have seen more than 50 or even 100 shows over the years.
‘I am starting to think that the key to being able to sell out shows might have something to do with the fact that every show is distinctly different from others. We hit the stage looking to make the best party with the audience that is there. While the party shapes up differently depending on the people and the vibe in the room, it is always a great party.’
The history of the band is a long one, dating back to 1965, when Maguire began writing and performing songs with Trooper co-founder Brian Smith.
In 1974, fellow Canadian Randy Bachman signed their band Applejack to his Legend Records label, releasing their debut album Trooper in 1975. After changing their name from Applejack to Trooper, the group supported an impressive cast of bands including BTO, Aerosmith, The Doobie Brothers and more in the United States.
At home in Canada, the band’s success was just beginning as two singles (‘Baby Woncha Please Come Home’ and ‘General Hand Grenade’) from their debut record cracked the Top 10 Singles Charts.
Trooper’s first platinum album, Two For The Show, would follow in 1976 and would be the first in a run of consecutive platinum records: 1977’s Knock ‘Em Dead, Kid , 1978’s Thick As Thieves would also be certified platinum.
It was 1979’s hits collection Hot Shots that affirmed the group as one of Canada’s most popular. The record sold a then unprecedented 450,000 copies that year alone.
Asked why he feels that Trooper’s catalogue of songs have stood the test of time so well over the course of the last 30-plus years, Ra offers a relatively simple answer:
‘I think that what was considered by some to be a liability in the ’70s and ’80s has worked out well for us in the present day,’ he says. ‘Back then, we were criticized for the inconsistency in our catalogue. ‘Raise a Little Hell’ and ‘Pretty Lady’ have very little in common, but both songs were big hits for us. We simply stayed focused on writing and recording good songs.’
Article published in the August 8, 2013 edition of the Times & Transcript
WHAT : Trooper
WHEN : Friday, Aug. 9, 8 p.m.
WHERE : Casino New Brunswick, 21 Casino Drive, Moncton
TICKETS : $33 plus taxes and service charges. Advance tickets are available at the Casino Gift Shop, by phone at 1-866-943-8849 and online at casinonb.ca