Interview by John Wisniewski

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2017 - The Last Rider

Ron Sexsmith’s status as one of the greatest songwriters of his generation has never been in doubt, even from the moment he released his self-titled major-label debut album in 1995. His career arc since then has in some ways been a study in how that pure ability has been handled in the studio. On his 12 albums, Sexsmith has worked with some of music’s most celebrated producers—Daniel Lanois, Mitchell Froom, Tchad Blake, Ray Kennedy, Martin Terefe, Bob Rock and Jim Scott. With all of that experience, it would stand to reason that Sexsmith has learned a thing or two over the years about how to make a record.

That thought indeed struck him as the Toronto-based Sexsmith prepared to make his thirteenth solo album, The Last Rider, where for the first time he, in tandem with his longtime collaborator Don Kerr, has taken matters into his own hands as a producer. For fans, that fact alone should heighten the listening experience in terms of getting to hear Sexsmith’s complete musical vision for the first time. However, it’s not much of a surprise that, as an artist whose music never fails to draw out raw emotions, Sexsmith the producer has made The Last Rider perhaps the most intimate and welcoming album in his catalogue.

Over the course of its 15 tracks—most clocking in at about the three-minute mark—The Last Rider is by turns romantic, bittersweet, uplifting and humourous, as might be expected. But what is most striking is how naturally the songs flow together, and how at ease Sexsmith sounds, accompanied by his trusted touring band who know his creative process perhaps better than anyone.

John Wisniewski:  Could you tell us about recording the new album, Ron? What was the feeling in the studio?

Ron Sexsmith: Well, it was the first time I had made a record with my touring band so the feeling in the studio was quite upbeat. Everyone was excited to be there at the Tragically Hip’s studio near Kingston for a week. I felt good about the songs too, so all around it was a good vibe

JW:  Where will you be playing live next?

Ron Sexsmith: I’ll be going on tour opening for BNL this month, so the first show is in Vancouver

JW:  Where do you find inspiration to write music?

Ron Sexsmith: It’s happening all the time

JW:  Any favorite musical genre?

Ron Sexsmith: I just like good songwriting mostly with decent melodies and
lyrics. I like singers who sing without affectation

JW:  Any favorite Kinks classics that you could name?

Ron Sexsmith: I love “Days” “Sweet Lady Genevieve” “Two Sisters”

JW: Do you write screenplays or poems?

Ron Sexsmith: Nope

JW:  Favorite albums?

Ron Sexsmith: Warren Zevon’s first album, Knnillssonn by Nilsson
and “New Morning” by Bob Dylan

JW:  Any plans for the future, Ron?

Ron Sexsmith: Hopefully I’ll get to play more shows with my band

November 29, 2017 National Arts Centre Ottawa, ON

December 9, 2017 Massey Hall Toronto, ON

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