Fredericton Locals’ Jamie Ross Talks To The Sadies Frontman Dallas Good

Photography by Brody LeBlanc

Canadian rock darlings the Sadies were in Fredericton last weekend,
performing at the Boyce Farmers Market as a part of the Shivering
Songs Music festival. Fredericton Locals’ Jamie Ross caught up with frontman Dallas
Good and received a hefty lesson in Canadian rock history. In this
wide ranging interview, Good speaks of his recent involvement with
legendary instrumental act Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet, and the
importance of Garnet Amps in the this country’s rock n’ roll legacy.
With his roots planted firmly in the bluegrass, country and western
scene, Good speaks about guitars, growing up a son of the Good
Brothers, how touring has changed in the age of mobile technology, and
Randy Bachman and the real story behind the name “BTO.” This is a condensed version of their conversation.

FL: What was your first guitar?
DG: I purchased a Squire Statocaster when I was 14, but there were
always a lot guitars in my house. My brother (Sadies guitarist and
vocalist Travis Good) had been playing, and he’s five years older than
me, so we always had instruments around.

FL: How many guitars do you own now?
DG: Tough question…12 electrics, maybe 13, and three acoustics. So 16 or 17.

FL: Do you sell them, or are you set on collecting?
DG: I worked at a guitar shop when I was 20, so I could sign them out
before I decided if I wanted to buy them, so I did get a lot of them
cheap. So yes, I have sold guitars, but only out of financial
necessity and out of the redundancy of the instrument.

FL: You always play a Telecaster. Do you gig exclusively with those?
DG: Yes. With the Sadies, anyway.

FL: Why are you Telecaster player?
DG: Travis and I agreed that a Gretch and Tele would make a good
formula. The red Tele I use now, it’s Travis’, but I’ve been playing
it almost every day for almost 20 years.

FL: You’ve also got a Telecaster with your name inscribed on the
fretboard, on the inlay, which is wicked cool. How did you do that?
DG: It’s actually a B-Bender, and so the whole thing is a custom mutt.
The neck was done by a friend who works at a luthier school in
Arizona, and he did it for me 10 years ago now. He had the technology
for it. It could be a very expensive job, and frankly, I’m obviously
extremely vain or I wouldn’t have done it in the fist plaice. But not
vain enough to drop thousands of dollars on it.

FL: Where did the inspiration to have your name on the guitar come from?
DG: It’s an old tradition, for sure. Merle Travis, Johnny Cash, and
most country singers back in the 50s would do that.

FL: You play a Garnet Amp.
DG: I do. I have six Garnet Amps. I used to be in a band called
Phono-Comb with some of the guys from Shadowy Men (on a Shadowy
Planet), and the first two amps belonged (Shadowy Men bassist) Reid
Diamond, who’s now passed away. And I used to use his on stage, and
then I bought one and inherited one, and purchased more over the
years. I always swore by them. Now they get pretty expensive.

FL: They’re a bit of a rarity. You’re among Canadian rock royalty as
far as being a Garnet player then, with Randy Bachman, Gordie Johnson,
Neil Young…What can you tell me about (Garnet founder) Gar Gillies,
and that kind of… legendary Canadian amp line.
DG: They’re not ideal road amps, but they’re great. But they are kind
of one trick pony’s, much like myself. I don’t think they’re versatile
amps. But as for Gar Gillies goes, the man is so important to the
Canadian music industry, whatever you wanna call it. Randy Bachman has
become a very good friend of mine, and the stories he’s told me about
Gar are incredible. The first Herzog amp he built for Randy was a
stomp box that he had to manually flick a switch on. If he wanted to
solo he’d have to walk over and basically punch the thing. The amp,
the BTO model – the Big Time Operator – Bachman Turner Overdrive took
their name from the amp, I’m pretty sure that’s the case. I heard that
from a guy who worked at Garnet, but I’ll have to ask Randy.

FL: You mentioned Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet. One of my favourite
Canadian Bands. You could be found giggling with them in the past
year, filling in on bass for the late Reid Diamond. There’s some
history there with you and those guys, as you said, with Phono-Comb.
Tell me about your past with Diamond and (drummer) Don Pyle and
(guitarist) Brian Connelly.
DG: I meet them in ’91. I was in a punk band they liked. And we just
became good friends, around the time Shadowy Men broke up…their break
up was shrouded in Shadowy mystery too…They were working on an album
with Jad Fair of Half Japanese, and Brian, for whatever reason – maybe
his heart wasn’t in it, maybe he didn’t have the time, I’m not sure -
he wasn’t able to do the record, let’s say that. So I filled in. So I
worked on that album, the stuff that was already composed by them. We
became friends, so me Don and Reid became a band. The Sadies were
together, but Phono-Comb was a little more agile and accomplished
strictly on the merit of Shadowy Men. We played together for a couple
of years, a called it quits. Sadly Reid passed a way a while ago now,
and Don and Reid were always very much involved in the Sadies’ career.
We’ve done tons of engineering together, they’d sat in with us
perfuming before, whereas Brian, our bassist used to play in a band
with him, so it’s a pretty incestuous group. And now I’m actually
playing Reid’s bass with (Shadowy Men), and it’s been an just a huge
honour and thrill, and all that horse shit. I’ve never had that
experience, to be right in the middle of a band that I love so much.
It’s differently when you’re involved in the creation process compared
to being in the replication process, but it’s awesome.

FL: There’s an awesome video of your set with them at Lee’s Palance
from 2012 (…With those
guys, and then Phono-Comb and even a large component of Sadies
material, you play a lot of instrumental music. Do you draw any
inspiration from surf music, like Dick Dale or the Ventures?
DG: Absolutely. Maybe a little less surf and a little more rock. Link
Wray, personally. But also The Ventures of course, the Shadows. It’s a
fragment of our work…Travis and I are very comfortable playing it. We
see it as a strength of the band, but not a direction we want to
pursue exclusively. It was nice doing the soundtrack for the Rat Fink
(2006) film in that way.

FL: Given your family background (father Bruce and uncles make up the
popular Canadian bluegrass band the Good Brothers), do you think you
come by this road tested lifestyle honestly?
DG: I’ve been around it way before I can remember. I was recently
looking at a photo from the Carlisle Bluegrass festival, where I was
being bathed in a bucket at the age of 2. I would say my exposure to
country and Western music has been innocent enough…and yeah, it’s a
family band. But by no means were the Partridge Family, sitting around
jamming together. But we have put a record together, and it’ll be out
later this year. It’s called the Good Family, and it’s my mom, dad,
uncle, cousin and the Sadies.

FL: How has touring changed in the era of mobile technology? You sent
me an email from your phone to arrange this interview.
DG: It’s great. Yeah. The days before cell phones, touring was really
tough for sure. It’s not something I complained about at the
time…You’d just get into town, and the first thing you’d do was find
pay phone to call and hopefully reach the machine the bar. So things
have been greatly improved on that front. Otherwise, it’s all the same
old shit.

FL: What’s your opinion of the media? Do you mind doing all kinds of interviews?
DG: I love doing it. I’m frustrated at my lack of dirt, I guess. I’d
like to be able to give a more colourful interview, but sadly I’m just
a boring guy. But I love the media…actually, let me strike that
comment…the fact the Sadies have become media darlings, it’s
fantastic. We have the support of music journalism. Whether people
believe it or not, the media are the biggest fans out there….As long
as people care I’m happy to keep talking.

FL: Do people ever get it wrong? I recently read an Exclaim! story
about your work with (legendary bluesman) Andre Williams, and it
quoted you regarding the presence of a documentary crew that was
filming Andre at the time. There was big correction at the bottom the
story. They quoted you saying that the crew had “plied” Andre with
“booze” to kind of show his dark side for the film. But the correction
they issued showed they did a pretty hefty edit on what you actually
said. You didn’t use those words at all.
DG: You’re always subjected to the people you’re interviewed by. It’s
just part of it. But that quote, in particular, was a little
misleading. One thing I didn’t say in that article about the crew
getting Andre wasted, or whatever it was, is that Andre would’ve been
getting wasted with or without their help. I should’ve made that
clear. But I did say it was shooting fish in a barrel, and that I
stand behind. It’s like, get him drunk and put a camera in his face,
what he’s gonna do? But it’s not my business and I don’t have an
opinion on that film, so I don’t like talking about that thing, but I
did want to clarify.

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