When the Crash Test Dummies released their second album, God Shuffled His Feet, in 1993, keyboardist and singer Ellen Reid said the band didn’t know how it would be received.
Two years earlier the Winnipeg alternative rock group was surprised by the success of their debut record, The Ghosts that Haunt Me, which ended up winning them the Juno Award for Group of the Year, beating out Blue Rodeo, the Tragically Hip, Rush and Glass Tiger.
“Our ultimate goal was to sell 30,000 copies of the record in Canada. So when we sold that many the first month, or something like that, we were completely gobsmacked,” Reid said.
She said lead singer Brad Roberts didn’t want to write the same record twice, and they were unsure of what listeners would think of their follow-up effort. The band produced the album with Jerry Harrison, formerly guitarist of the ’80s new wave group Talking Heads, and Reid said they were happy with the result and hoped it would do well.
God Shuffled His Feet did better than that and proceeded to earn the group three Grammy nominations for Best Alternative Music Album, Best New Artist and Best Pop Performance for the hit single Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm. The record also brought the Crash Test Dummies to the attention of song parodist “Weird Al” Yankovic, who turned Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm into Headline News, a telling of recent tabloid stories.
Reid said the band met Yankovic at an awards show and it was an “absolute pleasure to have any kind of interaction with him.” They even joined Yankovic in performances of Headline News.
“He was an absolute delight, let me tell you,” Reid said. “And of course some people, some bands, take themselves a little bit too seriously and don’t want to be parodied by ‘Weird Al,’ but that’s a frickin’ feather in the cap.”
God Shuffled His Feet turned 25 years old last year and the Crash Test Dummies are celebrating that anniversary on their current tour, which brings them to Nanaimo’s Port Theatre on Aug. 10. Reid joked that she’s not bothered by the realization of the passage of time.
“It’s not so scary because I was six when the album came out, so it’s harder for the guys because they’re all getting on but I’m just 30-something now,” she said with a laugh, before admitting that, “Obviously, it’s a little bit of a shock when you really think about how fast the time has gone and how much stuff has happened in between.”
She said the group is humbled that people still want to hear them play music from a quarter century ago and they’re grateful to do so on tour “before we’re all losing our teeth and losing our hair anymore than we already are.”
On tour the Crash Test Dummies are drawing from their entire catalogue, but they’re marking God Shuffled His Feet’s birthday by playing every song from the album, though not in order, Reid said. “If you want that, you can just stay home and listen to the record.”
Reid said she sees God Shuffled His Feet differently playing those song night after night 25 years later.
“I think I actually appreciate it more now than I did then…” she said. “I think it has sort of stood the test of time.”
WHAT’S ON … The Crash Test Dummies perform at the Port Theatre on Saturday, Aug. 10 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets $47.50, available at the box office or online.