Critically acclaimed for over two decades, The Tragically Hip have remained at the heart of the Canadian music scene by evoking a strong emotional connection between their music and their fans. A five-piece group of friends including Rob Baker, Gordon Downie, Johnny Fay, Paul Langlois and Gord Sinclair, who grew up in Kingston, Ontario, The Hip has achieved mass popularity with over 6 million albums sold in Canada alone as well as 42 JUNO Award nominations and 13 wins.
The Tragically Hip formed in 1983. Guitarist Paul Langlois joined in 1986; while saxophonist Davis Manning left that same year. They took their name from a skit in the Michael Nesmith movie Elephant Parts. In the mid 80s they performed in small music venues in Ontario until being discovered by MCA. They were then signed to a long-term record deal with MCA, and recorded the self-titled EP The Tragically Hip.
They followed up with 1989’s Up to Here. This album produced four singles, “Blow At High Dough,” “New Orleans Is Sinking,” “38 Years Old” and “Boots or Hearts.” All four of these songs became staples of modern rock radio play lists in Canada. Road Apples followed in 1991, producing three singles (“Little Bones,” “Twist My Arm” and “Three Pistols”) and reaching #1 on Canadian record charts.
The Hip soon released another album, Fully Completely in 1992, which produced the singles “Locked in the Trunk of a Car”, “Courage” and “At the Hundredth Meridian”. The Hip created and headlined the first Another Roadside Attraction (festival) tour at this time, both to act as a vehicle for their touring, and to promote other Canadian acts.
Day for Night was then released in 1994, producing 6 singles. Trouble at the Henhouse followed in 1996, producing 5 singles, including “Butts Wigglin” which would also appear on the soundtrack to the Kids in the Hall movie Brain Candy. Live Between Us, was recorded on the subsequent tour at Cobo Arena in Detroit, Michigan.
Many critics and fans consider this the era in which the band defined and explored a unique sound and ethos, leaving behind all earlier blues influence. Downie’s singing became fuller and stronger while the band experimented with song structures and chord progressions. Songs explored the themes of Canadian geography and history, water and land, all motifs that became heavily associated with the Hip. While Fully Completely began an exploration of deeper themes and is suitably highly revered, many critics consider Day for Night to be the Hip’s artistry most fully realized. The sound here is typically called “enigmatic” and “dark” while critic MacKenzie Wilson praises “the minimalism of Downie’s poignancy.” It was on the follow up tour for this album that the band made its first and only appearance on Saturday Night Live, thanks in large part to the finagling of fellow Canadian Dan Aykroyd.
In 1998, the band released their seventh full-length album, Phantom Power, which produced 5 singles. It won the 1999 JUNO Awards for Best Rock Album and Best Album Design. The album has been certified platinum 3 times over in Canada.
2000 saw the release of Music @ Work. It won the 2001 JUNO Award for Best Rock Album. The album featured back-up vocals from Julie Doiron on a number of tracks, and reached #2 on the Canadian Billboard Charts
– Inducted into Canada’s Walk of Fame (2002)
In 2002, In Violet Light was released, along with 3 singles from the album. It became certified platinum in Canada. which were featured on the Canadian TV show Trailer Park Boys
– In 2002, they made an appearance in the film Men With Brooms
October 10, 2002, The Tragically Hip performed two songs, “It’s a Good Life If You Don’t Weaken”, and “Poets”, as part of a command performance for Queen Elizabeth II. They also recorded a cover of “Black Day in July”, a song about the 1967 12th Street Riot in Detroit, on Beautiful: A Tribute to Gordon Lightfoot in 2003.
– Released album: In Between Evolution (2004)-
– In 2005, they had a cameo in an episode of the Canadian TV show Corner Gas
On November 1, 2005, The Hip released a double CD, double DVD box set, Hipeponymous, including all of their singles and music videos to date, a backstage documentary called “Macroscopic”, an animated Hip-scored short film entitled “The Right Whale”, two brand new songs (“No Threat” and “The New Maybe”), a full-length concert from November 2004 That Night in Toronto, and a 2-CD greatest hits collection Yer Favourites (selected on-line by 150,000 fans). On November 8, 2005, Yer Favourites and That Night In Toronto were released individually.
In 2006 another studio album, entitled World Container, was released, being notably produced by Bob Rock. It produced 4 singles, and reached the #1 spot on the Canadian rock music charts. The band toured concert dates in major Canadian cities, and then as an opening act for The Who on several US dates. A tour of Eastern Canada, Europe, and select cities in the United States occurred late in the year.
In 2009, the band again worked with producer Bob Rock, and We Are the Same was released in North America on April 7, 2009. It produced 3 singles. To promote We Are the Same the band invited The Hour’s George Stroumboulopoulos for a live interview at The Bath House Recording Studio in Bath, Ontario (where most of the album was recorded), and they played seven new songs as well as unique versions of five other songs. The interview and performance were broadcast live in more than eighty theatres across Canada.