The Tragically Hip's new album, "We Are the Same," started on tour in 2008 as a kind of creative exercise by frontman Gordon Downie.
The singer says that he would take his laptop, with its Garage Band writing and recording program, to each of the other members of the band. "I would chase each guy down and say, 'Give me something on acoustic guitar right now that you're fiddling with,' " Downie recalls. "So I had five guys with music, then I'd flesh out those ideas and take them back to the guys and we'd work on them as a whole band.
"We sort of developed 40 songs that way. It was different than the usual five guys in a room saying, 'Let's jam in B for two hours and see what shakes out.' We've done that, and this time we wanted to try something new."
The result, Downie feels, is one of the Hip's most varied and expansive albums. "I think we decided with this (album), we needed to do something where we could expand the margins and really work on the dynamics, from a pin drop to blow the doors off," he explains.
Of course, "We Are the Same" features 12 songs. What about the other 28?
"Ultimately you always vow you'll put them on the next record, but you never do," Downie, 45, says with a laugh. "When you start winnowing them for (the album) you don't work on the other ones much, so they stay in an uncompleted state as you move forward with the ones you're interested in.
"They all have titles. They have melodies. They're still there, but what we'll do with them I can't say."
The Tragically Hip performs at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday (May 29-30) at the Fillmore Detroit, 2115 Woodward Ave., Detroit. Tickets are $65, $45 and $35 with a $105 balcony four-pack. Call (313) 961-5451 or visit www.livenation.com.
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