Features | Interviews

Jim Guthrie

By Aaron Newell | 20 July 2005

CMG's Aaron Newell randomly e-mails little-known Canadian pop megastars and prays they’ll respond. On a day when he had nothing better to do, Jim Guthrie humoured Mr. Newell, finally offering our Associate Ed. some justification for the reload button.

CMG's Aaron Newell (CMG): So, Three Gut was a bit of an indie dogfight, who started it?
Jim Guthrie (JG): It wasn't really a label until Tyler and Lisa came to the rescue but it started when I first released "A Thousand Songs" in 1999. There were a few other folks "involved" then but we never did a damn thing for the label living in Guelph until Royal City put out At Rush Hour the Cars in 2000 and that's when Tyler and Lisa made stuff happen.

CMG: Who are Lisa and Tyler?
JG: Lisa Moran and Tyler Burke were the real muscle behind Three Gut. Without them no one would have ever heard of the label.

CMG: Why did the label shut down?
JG: Lisa has been doing it on her own for the last 2-3 years and she really needs to do something else at this stage in her life. The label will still handle back catalogue until we all find our feet but she won't be doing any new releases. I think she's mainly going to do management now. I feel like we'll all go on to do good things and I'm glad it's ending on a good note and not 10 years from now when we're all old and crusty about the music biz.

CMG: How did you hook up with the Constantines, and how did Sub Pop get into the act?
JG: You have to know that from the moment Lisa and Tyler started doing the label, I was nothing more than an artist on the label so I never "hooked up" with the Cons in a label sense, if that's what you mean. I'm not sure how the Sub Pop thing happened!?

CMG: Will Royal City ever record again?
JG: No but we will being putting out a B-side thingy.... maybe.

CMG: If we were to play "where-in-the-world is Aaron Riches?" what would your first three guesses be?
JG: I haven't the faintest idea where he is right now but i can tell you that by the end of August he will have moved to England to live and work with his wife Melissa.

CMG: Any idea what's to become of Sea Snakes (and/or its respective, now-broken-up members)? Gentlemen Reg?
JG: They've all become members of a secret society. In this society their diet only consists of bark and bugs. They wax their entire bodies 3 times a week and only answer to the names "Peppy" and "Linda." I'm worried about them.

CMG: What's the international distribution/release deal for the new Constantines record?
JG: I honestly have no idea, Lisa deals with that stuff.

CMG: What have you been up to, personally?
JG: Well I finally got a website going "www.jimguthrie.org" with much help from Robot and Proud (Shawhan Liem) which I'm very excited about. I've been working on videos in imovie on my mac and you can see some of them on my site. I just got turned down from factor so I'm working on a plan B to try and figure out how I'm going to make a new record this summer/fall. A bunch of friends have also come forward and offer to "help" with cash and it made me want to cry I was so thankful.

CMG: What's "factor" (for the non-Canadian people and/or indie rockers with trust funds)?
JG: Factor is government funding for "the arts." They've help fund a bunch of tours and stuff for bands on the label. I managed to snag a factor loan for Now, More than Ever but I just found out I was denied funding for a new record.

CMG: Why'd they turn you down? Is it because you said "I've got my boobs" and the government isn’t into stuff like that?
JG: Ha. I dunno. It sucks but it's not like I've never done a record with no budget.

CMG: How did/do you feel about the Juno awards?
JG: I think they are just dandy. You really can't take it too seriously. It starts and ends with the Juno weekend. The moment you make it mean anything other than a free trip to some great city in Canada with all the booze and food you and gobble down yer in trouble. I was quite plump and a little hung by the end of that.

CMG: How did you feel about the 'best independent recording' category?
JG: Is that a category? I never heard of it. Sounds dope though.
CMG: That's the one you were nominated in?
JG: I thought it was best alt album!? Whatever the case may be --- it's definitely the only one that had a good mix of artists because it's not based on sales to get nominated in that category.

CMG: Fact checking is for assholes. Roughly, how much did you drink at the Junos?
JG: How ever many it takes to feel like I was going to die the next day. Ouch. I was so hung over... and I'm not proud of it. I don't want to send the wrong message to the kids out there reading this. Drinking is not cool!

CMG: It’s funny that you think people read this. The Toronto 'scene' seems to be pretty tight-knit, with Hayden sometimes appearing at the same gigs as Broken Social Scene members, who appear sometimes with ex-Three Gut musicians, etc. Can you talk about the importance of these musical connections to the city's music scene?
JG: I think it's a good time. I don't go out that much so it's hard to comment but I think everyone has a good spirit about it.

CMG: Music: Toronto vs. Montreal --- who wins?
JG: Nobody. We all die.
CMG: Why?
JG: Because the blast kills us all.
CMG: OK. But what are the key differences between the 'scenes' in the cities, if any?
JG: The only thing that separates the scenes is that Toronto gets a lot of attention when it comes to the arts but there are so many good bands/artists in Canada. I think Toronto has a lot to offer as well but I also think you really gotta kick ass in a different way if you don't live here.

CMG: If you were to get out of TO forever, where would you go, and why?
JG: Any small town nearby will do. I want to live somewhere with lots of trees cause trees kick ass!!

CMG: While out in the woods, can you produce a Hayden record for us?
JG: Ok.
CMG: Please?
JG: I said ok. What's his number?

CMG: (Hayden, call me) When do we get new Guthrie material?
JG: Soon. Late fall maybe? Probably not though. That's pretty ambitious considering the work I need to do.

CMG: Who's going to release it?
JG: I don't have anyone to release it. I'll sell it on the web and at shows if I have to. It'll work out some how.

CMG: Any long term plans?
JG: I would love to be able to quit my part-time catering job and just do music but I can't as things stand. I'm broke. I'd just love to be smart and get lucky with money and be able to buy a house or something. That's all.

CMG: That was a very comprehensive answer. Token: what are you listening to lately?
JG: New Sufan Stevens. It's called Illinios and it's really good. The sweet soul sounds of Alice Clark. The Wedding by Oneida. Spoon rules my world these days. Wes Montgomery. All sorts of shit.

CMG: Finally: why are there so many Three Gut songs named after Newfoundland towns (Conception Bay South, Little Hearts' Ease)?
JG: Because at one point or another, we were all apart of this secret society I was speaking of earlier. That was just one of the many wacky things we had to do.

CMG: Are you suggesting all Newfoundlanders eat bugs and bark and answer to Peppy and Linda?
JG: On the contrary: just a select few who wear masks and chant in foreign tongues. It kinda reminded me of Eyes Wide Shut at times.

CMG: You married? Jim Guthrie's top five hip hop moments are:
JG: I really wish I had a good answer for this one. Let's just say: "it takes 2 to make a thing go right.