On a busy week, we’re proud of ourselves when we still manage to remember to take the recycling out on time. That’s why we’re always impressed to meet a chill guy like Ryan Higgins who makes juggling work, family and life on the road with his band seem like it ain’t nothing but a ‘G’ thang… or maybe it’s a bluegrass thing. Higgins, the bass player for Toronto band The Key Frames, gave us a little insight into what kept him so inspired to keep rocking the Canadian music scene all these years. Check out Higgins and The Key Frames this Friday at the Dakota Tavern at 10pm. Til then, find out more about this rockin’ dude…
Tell us a bit about yourself. What should people know?
I’m a married father living in North York. When I’m not wrapping cables at Long & McQuade I play bass for The Key Frames. I moved to Toronto from Halifax six years ago and I love it here.
Describe the sound of your band and explain why everyone needs to check it out.
We’re basically a rock band but with heavy influences from classic country, ’90s Canrock, bluegrass and soul.
When did you get your first instrument and how did you learn to play it?
My first instrument was guitar. My dad plays it, and taught me my first chords on a classical guitar my great-uncle had rescued from the trash. After we had it appraised and found out its moderate value, I traded up for an electric so I could rock a little harder.
What were some of the albums that defined your youth and made you want to be a musician?
Of course, the records of popular music’s holy trinity (Beatles, Stones and Dylan) play a big part in my love of music, being some of my dad’s favourites. So the first songs I learned were theirs. Once I reached my teens, records by Nirvana, Sloan and Thrush Hermit really blew my mind. Specifically, Twice Removed rings as my all-time favourite.
What are currently some of the most played songs on your iPod?
I am really digging “Some Folks Know” by Toronto’s Jerry Leger… He’s a pal and a brilliant songwriter. I’m also listening to “Scrappy Happiness” by Joel Plaskett. I should also mention I finally got “Tribute To Famous People” by Pomplamoose – super fun one.
What modern bands do you think are doing the most innovative, interesting stuff and why?
I once joked with a friend that on the day my son was born, I instantly “got” Dire Straits. That’s kind of a lazy joke about becoming a dad and at the expense of dads who like lame music. Still, a lot of modern bands don’t interest me much. I sometimes feel a little ripped off by being raised in the golden age of music videos because I lived to see it whither and then I came of age at such a shift in how young people make and discover new music. I was left out, I think. I feel like there are loads of 30-somethings pretending to like whatever’s on the radio, or whatever free song is on a card at Starbucks, or whatever hip band is winkingly mentioned on some hip show written by people 10 years younger than them. I won’t try and change them, but new music that I do like and identify with has become the mother-of-pearl shimmering in wet brown sand: scarce and a break from the dullness.
When on the road, what are three things you can’t live without?
Air mattress, clean socks and earplugs. (I’m a light sleeper and you don’t always sleep among people who care.)
What’s the best piece of advice you’d give up-and-coming musicians before they go on tour?
Believe in the kindness of strangers but plan to not experience it.
Finish this sentence: I love Toronto because…
…it’s interesting and beautiful. Everyone is nice… I don’t know where the bad rep comes from. I always tell people at home in Halifax that people in Toronto are just as nice. It’s the little differences, like people here will hold the door for you but just not for very long.