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Goth Girls & Cows

14 August 2012 | 5:45 am | Michael Smith

"I’d like to make a Western – I’d like to be violently killed in a Western."

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He might be working the roots/country/American end of the musical spectrum, but you only have to listen to a couple of his songs to know that there's quite a wicked sense of humour working alongside the regular songwriting muse in Canadian singer/songwriter Corb Lund. Proudly Albertan, fourth-generation ranching stock, on record Lund doesn't stray too far from the country in which he grew up. So on his latest album, Cabin Fever, for instance, there's the hilarious Cows Around, pure traditional country corn reminding us that “everything is better with cows around”, with its I've Been Everywhere-style recitation of all the breeds you're likely to meet [“Is there an Australian breed called Murri?” he asks, hoping to include it for his visit. “It's funny because, if you miss one, someone will call out, 'Why didn't you say this one?'”], followed by the self-explanatory (You Ain't A Cowboy) If You Ain't Been Bucked.

“There are some dark moments on the record [September and his 'country suicide ballad', One Left In The Chamber] so I'm glad that it isn't entirely a downer,” Lund reassures with a chuckle. “You've gotta mix it up though. [With the songwriting] I totally have to roll with it, wherever it goes. There isn't a lot of premeditation involved.”

Cabin Fever, his seventh album, wasn't the easiest record for him to make. “A lot of it came quickly by but it took a long time to sort of get to see anything. Like, I had some family health stuff goin' on and I had a breakup and stuff so it took me three years to get the thing done. I kinda hit a wall for a while, but then I eventually broke through it. I think it was the one about the pistol [Priceless Antique Pistol Shoots Startled Owner] was the one that sort of broke the dam, whatever.”

The album has once again seen him nominated for Roots Artist or Group Of The Year – with his band The Hurtin' Albertans – in this year's Canadian Country Music Awards, an award he won seven years in a row between 2004 and 2010, so it's obvious he's found his niche. Yet he started out playing bass with what was, in its day, a very successful hardcore punk band, The Smalls, back in 1989, selling more than 40,000 albums over its decade of existence. Recollecting those times inspired the track, The Gothest Girl I Can, on the new album. Anyway, it turns out moving from one style to the other wasn't such a big leap for Lund.

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“Not really no. I had both bands goin' at the same time for the first few years. You know, I guess it seems bizarre to other people but to me it seemed quite natural. I don't know; to my weird brain, the whole thing seemed natural, but I think that's kind of what's given me my current style of writing. The first half of my life I spend rodeoing and chasin' cattle on horseback and the second half I spent in the punk metal underground scene, and I think that twisted my songwriting. 'Cause in that scene you're encouraged to do unique shit whereas in the country scene you're sort of encouraged to do the same, especially mainstream country.”

As for that sense of humour, “I don't really do it on purpose, it just sort of happens that way. You've gotta check out Jerry Reed though – he's very good.” Not that Corb Lund is likely to try his hand at being a Canadian Kinky Friedman – he admits he doesn't have the patience to write a whole comic novel. “But I'd like to make a Western – I'd like to be violently killed in a Western.”