It was 2009 when Juno Award winner Hawksley Workman found himself chatting with Hot Hot Heats’ Steve Bays after a taping of Q with Jian Ghomeshi when an idea was sparked. “We were just talking about music and how we had kind of admired each other’s careers and the things we had done,” Workman said.
As the conversation progressed the name Ryan Dahle was mentioned.
“For some reason I was like ‘You know what other guy in Vancouver I love is this guy Ryan Dahle,’ and Steve said something like ‘oh, no way, this is crazy – he’s producing our new Hot Hot Heat record’,” Workman said.
“It wasn’t too long that the three of us were raising glasses of wine and drunkenly cheering to the band we would one day make.”
After years of e-mail exchanges and chit chat the three musicians decided to combine their musical talents and created Mounties in 2012.
“We really didn’t know what it was going to be … I think in someways it was one of those things that once you become an adult it’s, like, alright I am going to have start following through on some of the things I say I am going to do,” Workman said. “The adult thing to do is to start a bloody band and if it is a failure then it’s a failure. It was really started for the joy of music and it’s funny because the music business is a place where your dreams of musical love go to parish.”
On Wednesday (March 19), Mounties perform at the Queen’s alongside JPNSGRLS and Rich Aucoin.
“We are really giddy school boys and we cannot wait to get out and play,” Workman said. “It’s embarrassing actually.”
The trio will performs songs from their recently released full-length album, Thrash Rock Legacy. Workman explained that Thrash Rock Legacy, which has been described by reviewers as “music from the future,” draws heavily on their boyhood aspirations.
“A lot of of our obsessions that we’re finding when the three of us are in a room together is very much our 1980s boyhood obsessions. So, Lamborghini Countachs and that kind of hope and promise that was part of growing up in the ’80s, you know? We’re trying to in someways celebrate it as best as possible … it’s that hopeful imagination of that kid in the ’80s,” Workman said. “We hadn’t had our hope pounded out of us unlike what some generations are feeling today. It’s true it’s music made for the future but if it was made 30 years ago.”
Workman, 39, began his musical career more than 10 years ago as a drummer. He eventually transitioned into a singer and released 13 albums during his solo career. He has received two Juno Awards and six nominations. As a member of Mounties, Workman is back doing what he loves most.
“All I ever really wanted in the music business was to be a drummer,” he said. “I just wrote my first record to spite a girlfriend and then I became a singer and now I am finally getting to do the thing I always wanted, which is I get to play drums like I always wanted to. It’s like I am fulfilling my boyhood fantasy.”
In addition to a solo career, Workman has also produced 18 albums for a handful of artists, including Serena Ryder, Tegan and Sara, Jeremy Fisher, Great Big Sea and Sarah Slean. He said that since the music industry has changed with the advent of the Internet and social media, more industry professionals are concerned with the types of people with whom they work.
“What I am hearing more now than ever is ‘are they a good person?’ because it is funny there is no money in the business anymore, not the kind of riches that there were 10 to 15 and 20 years ago. I am noticing quite a bit that before they get into a business relationship with somebody they ask if they are a good person,” Workman said. “Back in the day you’d suffer an asshole or two because there was a million dollars attached to them but there isn’t a million dollars anymore. So, no one suffers assholes anymore. It’s kind of great actually. It’s like whoever is left in the music business is here because they are good or they’re here for the love of it. It’s a pretty nifty place to be … There is enough in the music business to be bummed out about, let alone having to deal with an asshole.” Being able to work with Bays and Dahle has created a renewed sense of passion and excitement for Workman. “I couldn’t imagine my creative life without them. It’s so strange how big of a part they are in my life,” he said. “It’s funny how a great experience can bleed into all parts of your life. I am a more fun person to be around. I know even my wife is glad that I am in Mounties, not because I am away a lot though, but because I am a happier, more fun guy.”