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Trooper in it for a long time

By Joe Leary

Trooper is set to play the PNE. (SUBMITTED)

Trooper is set to play the PNE. (SUBMITTED)

Hailed as Canada’s No. 1 party band, Trooper have contributed scores of songs into our country’s musical mosaic and still continue to sell out shows nearly 40 years later. Prior to their Friday evening performance at the PNE, Joe Leary spent 24 Seconds with lead singer Ra McGuire.

24: When you first hit the radio airwaves in the ‘70s, the Canadian music industry was a much different animal. What was the process like for Trooper to secure a recording contract?

RM: Back in the day getting a record deal was a pretty straight-forward process of playing thousands of shows until you had a big following in your hometown, which would then, hopefully, get the attention of an A&R guy from a major label. If you had a strong local fan base and the A&R guy liked your set you had a good chance of getting signed. We did it slightly differently because we managed to get Randy Bachman’s attention at the point in time where he was looking for a second act to release on his Legend Records label.

24: Early on was there an expectation that the band would endure for any length of time?

RM: We never thought about how long this could last. We were always just working hard on the next record or the next tour. Remember we were in our 20s. How many 20-somethings think this far into the future.

24: After selling millions of records and selling out shows for years, is there one song that resonates above all others in concert?

RM: It’s all been a great adventure which, as you know, continues to this day. I love a lot of the songs like a parent loves their children - and in the same way, don’t like to single one out for attention. Having said that, The Boys in the Bright White Sports Car has always been a fave because it succeeded despite being such an atypical pop song. Where’s the hook? Right?

24: It appears to this day that you’re still having a blast performing onstage. Is it as much fun?

RM: It’s way more fun now that there’s not so much riding on it. When we were making records, each show was in support of those records and there was pressure from everyone - record company, management, the press - to represent. Now, it’s just between us and our audience. That’s a relationship we take very seriously, but we can have a lot more fun on stage with only us and them in the equation.

24: Inexplicably, Trooper have yet to be enshrined in the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. Have you received much feedback about this glaring omission from your fans?

RM: Yes, our fans would love to see us there and, the truth is, we’d be proud to be included there, but as I’ve said before, our greatest reward for these many years of writing and performing is still the sold-out crowds that greet us every night at our shows.

24: What inspired you musically or was there one band that you tried to model Trooper after?

RM: I think the only band we could all agree on was the Beatles - and mostly because they were so damned courageous musically. They changed up their deal with every record - trying out any new thing that popped into their mind. That was inspiring. For me though, I was really into Motown, soul and R&B music as a teenager. I sang in a nine-piece R&B horn band when I was 12.


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