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Talk Music: Cody Canada is 100 percent American

By Melissa Crowe
Nov. 6, 2013 at 5:06 a.m.

Cody Canada

DON'T MISS IT

• WHAT: Cody Canada's Acoustic Songs and Stories

• WHEN: 10 p.m. Thursday

• WHERE: The Mustang, 309 E. Crestwood Drive

• COST: $20

After years at the height of Austin's Americana music, the end of Cross Canadian Ragweed didn't slow down the frontman and primary songwriter Cody Canada.

Canada turned to his buddies, started a new band - Cody Canada and the Departed - and a national tour. Now, he's weeks away from dropping his first solo album.

Canada caught up with Get Out to talk about acoustic healing, the album and stepping back up to the front.

I've heard you call these shows "acoustic healing." What do you mean by that?

It's probably been eight years ago, and I had been on the road a lot, and we had kids, and just everybody in Ragweed, we had three kids at once. We were really busy, gone all the time, missing our kids. I told my wife, 'I love playing music, but it's a different game now, I need some acoustic healing.'

I didn't mean for it to be cheesy in any means, but I need some acoustic healing with my friends. It stuck, and she's been saying that ever since.

You're releasing your first solo album this month, "Some Old, Some New, Maybe A Cover Or Two."

In a couple of weeks. Usually, it's about a six-month turnaround to get a record out. With this thing, I tried to keep it as easy as possible.

For one, it was acoustic, and it was one night, and I wanted to just push record and go with it. If something needed editing, I'd just do it myself.

We've had the same sound guy for about 10 years; he and I sat down and edited it. I told a lot of stories that night. I hadn't played by myself in years. I had to shave the songs down; if I didn't, it was going to turn into a four-disc thing.

We turned it around real quick just because there was no polishing to do on it. We just took some of the stories out and shortened them and sent them to mastering, and we were done.

Sounds like it's as raw as it can possibly be.

Ragweed put out three live performance CDs. To me, live is live. If you mess up, that's what the people that were there heard, and I think that's what people need to hear who weren't there.

There's a lot of voice cracks and pops, and there's a few times I didn't hit the note I was trying to hit, and it's fine with me. It's never perfect.

If we'd had gone in and redone it and done voice tuning and stuff, then it would really bother me, then it wouldn't be honest to me.

There's not a lot of personality to music these days in my book. There's so much that's overdone. That's the way songs are written.

In my world, that's how songs are written - on acoustic in a room by yourself, and that's how it needs to sound, mistakes and all.

I always like to put out music that I'm used to hearing. I like to hear a live record that you can tell that person didn't really mean to do that, but they kept it because that's the way it was. It's personal to me, and I think people like personality with music.

With Seth James stepping down, what does that mean for the band?

I played all the lead guitar in Ragweed for 16 years. For the last three years, I haven't been playing 100 percent of leads. For me, it puts me back in the driver's seat when it comes to electric lead.

I'm by no means scared of it. I've been away from it for three years, and I'm really looking forward to coming back to it.

I've known our keyboard player, Steve Littleton, since I was 17. That was the year Ragweed started, and I've always wanted to play music with him. We started as a four-piece, but Steve always had something going.

The last three years, he hasn't been able to step out front because Seth and I are pretty loud. With what's about to happen, Steve and I are going to do what we've always talked about doing and share the leads and rhythms.

I've been away from the old Ragweed songs for about three years, and I'm going to bring them back.

I'm curious about your equipment. Is there a story behind your guitar?

I have one electric that my wife bought me 14 years ago for Christmas. Bless her heart, she didn't really know what she got, but I did. It was a Paul Reed Smith guitar. At the time, that was something I never thought I'd have because it was such a high-end thing - that's what the Big Dogs used.

I've been playing it for 14 years. I think the lightest year of touring we ever had was about 200 dates, and I played it every night.

It looks like it's about 30 years old. That's the one I carved No. 1 in the back of it, that's the one I've been using for years.

I've got an acoustic that's a '93. I bought it in Austin at Austin Vintage Guitar. I've been using it for six years.

I've searched for a long time to find an acoustic guitar, and that was it. I knew it before I even played; I knew it was the one I'd been searching for. When I saw it, I thought I don't care if it sounds bad, I'm going to have work done to it to make it sound good. I put strings on it and hit the road.

I had a Seagull, a Canadian guitar I bought that when I was living in Oklahoma with Jason Boland and Stoney LaRue. I played so many songs on that guitar; it had a satin finish, and within a couple of years, it wore straight through.

When you're not performing, what are you up to?

I'm Dad. That's it.

When I'm home, my favorite thing to do is get up in the morning, make breakfast for the kids.

I have one in kindergarten and one in second. I get them off to school, go back at noon and have lunch with them.

The music thing, when we're playing live, they love to get up and sing. There's nights I have to tell them they can't.

They want to get up and sing every song; they know every tune. There's a lot of singing and music in the house.

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