Interview With Craig Northey of Odds: Someone Who’s Cool

Listen to this track by Vancouverite power-pop poobahs Odds. It’s their arguably best-known hit song among other well-known radio favourites, “Someone Who’s Cool” as it appears on their 1996 album Nest.

That record marked the end of an era for the band, the last of their releases that included guitarist-singer and songwriter Steven Drake. After this, the band went on hiatus for a period, with solo careers, collaborations, and other projects with each other, and with members of other bands .

But always being hard-working and fiercely local in their emphasis, they came together again at the end of the 2000s, sans Drake, but with a seemingly undiminished capacity for  writing and performing hook-laden songs that sound joyous yet are laced with bitter acrimony and black humour.

Odds_0512 (credit-Cole_Northey)
Odds today (image: Cole Northey)

Singer and guitarist Craig Northey takes lead vocals on the lion’s share of the band’s material these days, although this one was always a highlight for his voice, and a great example of his ability to make self-deprecating humour and subtly tragic overtones into something to which everyone can sing along with gusto. It helps that he is part of a band that is still as passionate about live playing as they ever were, giving audiences that very opportunity.

Their love of playing for crowds stretches back to the time when they played hard nearly every night on the local scene to hone their craft and fund their ambitions to continue to record their own original material, which they’d written even before they served as house band under a different name at Vancouver’s The Roxy. And it’s good that they did, considering that many of their songs, including this one, has become such a vital part of the Canadian pop music continuum.

I had the tremendous pleasure to speak to Craig Northey through the magic of email about this song, about their roots as a west coast band, and about karaoke, too. Here’s what he said.

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Odds Play “Love Is the Subject”

Listen to this track by Vancouver-based hitmakers and power-pop champeens Odds, aka The Odds. It’s “Love Is the Subject”, an early single that would be the first of many here in Canada, and showing off their way with hooks, and with irony-tinged pop song narratives, too.

Odd NeopolitanThe song would feature on their first record in 1991, Neopolitan, which the band produced themselves after spending many years jobbing as a cover band around town, particularly at the Roxy on Granville Street in Vancouver where they served as a ’60s and ’70s cover band under the name “Dawn Patrol”.  Seeing as they’d become one of the prime bands in Canadian power-pop, this must have been like going to university where delivering tight performances  for live audiences is concerned.

But another thing on their side was a capacity to take all of those pop instincts and performance chops and pour it into superlative songs of their own. With multiple songwriters in the band, they had plenty to draw from. This initial hit would lead to others, too.

Maybe this is because they so expertly played into the key characteristic of power-pop songwriting – vulnerability wrapped up in a tough package. Read more