Regina Leader Post

Here’s a nice article by Emmet Matheson in Regina’s newspaper.
Northey beyond ‘Corner Gas’
Emmet Matheson
Special to The Leader-Post
Thursday, November 25, 2004
Most Saskatchewan residents, if not most Canadians, are probably already familiar with the second track on the new album from singer-songwriters Craig Northey and Jesse Valenzuela.
“They know 30 seconds of it, at least,” quips the Vancouver-based Northey.
The song in question is “Not A Lot Goin’ On,” heard every week as the opening theme for CTV’s Saskatchewan-made hit sitcom Corner Gas, starring Tisdale-raised comedian Brent Butt.
A stereotype-debunking ode to the prairies and the people who choose to live here, the song is a natural fit on a show with the same aims. Still, Northey initially had his doubts that the show would survive, let alone flourish.
“I’ve know Brent for years. This is so great,” Northey says. “Everything I like is either mildly successful or critically acclaimed. So I was really surprised that something as good as Corner Gas was allowed to exist.
“I saw a rough cut of the first episode before I solidified the song and I was calling everyone down to the room going ‘He’s done it, he’s done it!’ Everybody in the room said the same thing, so I figured, ‘OK, it’s doomed.’ But I should have had more faith in humankind.”
Writing and performing the theme for Corner Gas is hardly Northey’s first exposure to Saskatchewan and its people. Since the break-up of his mildly successful and critically acclaimed band, the Odds, in the late ’90s, Northey has frequently collaborated with stubble jumpers like Wide Mouth Mason and Jason Plumb, and even served a tour of duty as guitarist in Colin James’s band.
“I love the place,” he says. “I love hanging out there and I love the people. I guess it’s a cliche, but there’s some good, honest, intelligent people on the Prairies and all the pretenses seem to be stripped away, so you can get right down to what matters. In an artistic relationship, when you’re collaborating with somebody, that’s one of the most valuable things you could ever have. That’s what you try to scrub all that artifice, in order to get to the heart. It seems with those people, it’s easy to get right down to it.”
When he’s not writing songs for people like Roseanne Cash or former Kids In The Hall star Bruce McCulloch, Northey can usually be found writing songs with Jesse Valenzuela.
Valenzuela is best known for the on-again, off-again Gin Blossoms, who, like Northey’s Odds, created some of the ’90s most memorable pop songs. The two singer-songwriters have been friends since the early days of their respective bands, and the result of their collaboration, Northey/Valenzuela, is a smart and hook-riddled album in the classic pop vein.
“We unabashedly bonded one night when we met over a friend’s collection of Nick Lowe records, and there are many quotes and rip-offs on our record, just as their are on his of the people he loves,” Northey says. ” We actually used the lyric ‘Cruel to be Kind’ in one song.
“We had fancied ourselves those sort of Memphis writing teams that are now extinct; y’know, like Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham. We thought we’d just write songs that singers would want to sing. Then we’ll give them to them and they’ll sing them and we’ll be so happy to see our babies go out into the world. But really, that world doesn’t exist. It’s just a fanciful notion. So we had to record them ourselves.”
Craig Northey and Jesse Valenzuela hope to tour their album across Canada early in the new year.