Ten songs, 10 weeks, new album.
From Thursday afternoon of one week to Thursday morning of the next, singer-songwriter guitarist Joel Plaskett pumped out song after song.
“It was 10 weeks of go, go, go,” he says, noting that while he mapped out some of the ideas before the project’s January start date, he might arrive at the studio to discover the material didn’t work.
The resulting album, Scrappy Happiness, has been put to bed and Plaskett and his band Emergency are on a cross-Canada promotional tour.
And they’re making a stop in Salmon Arm in a concert that will help the Shuswap Environmental Action Society raise funds to support the purchase of a property adjacent to the mouth of the Adams River, home to the world-famous sockeye salmon run.
Plaskett hails from Nova Scotia, where he has been a pop icon for more than a decade, winning many awards, including a Juno, two Canadian Folk Music Awards and numerous East Coast Music Awards, plus two Polaris prize nominations.
In 2009, he opened for Paul McCartney in Halifax and in May 2011, he became the first artist to reach one million plays on CBC Radio 3 – a station that aired each of his new songs as the Scrappy Happiness project unfolded.
“I love classic writing,” he says, pointing out he gets inspiration from events and experiences in his own life and the lives of those close to him.
The 36-year-old artist laughs as he describes how some of the events from his past are now viewed through the proverbial rose-coloured glasses.
“As I’m getting older, I’m watching time fly and trying to find happiness in the imperfections,” he says. “One thing I notice, is that more and more, we tend to romanticize the past that, in fact, may not have been so great when you were living it.”
Having said that, Plaskett is happy to affirm that his life is “actually pretty good” right now and that he’s doing what he loves.
And, in doing that, his creative mind also draws inspiration from events, situations, places and people he meets while on-tour.
“I operate in tangents; one thing leads to another,” he adds, acknowledging the power of music to take a person back to a specific period. “It connects the dots in your life, and I have tried to document that.”
Like many writers, Plaskett says words can flow at inconvenient times, so he keeps pen, paper and phone beside his bed to capture the ones that arrive late at night.
“My wife is a light sleeper and ridiculously, I put my Iphone under the covers and type something,” he laughs. “When I’m in creative mode, I don’t let any of it go.”
While his lyrics embrace many different subjects, sometimes more contemplative, sometimes born of stark or sad notions, even the darker lyrics are set to an uplifting beat.
“I always bounce back into a more celebratory perspective, and I have always enjoyed the entertainment value of rock and roll,” he says. “I believe in resilience and facing life’s problems. Life is a mixed bag, but you can still celebrate the imperfections.”
Plaskett began making music with his guitar at the age of 14, had a band by the time he was 16 and upon graduation from high school, hit the road on tour.
“Opportunities presented themselves early,” he says, crediting the popular alternative rock band Sloan for taking his band on the road in 1993.
Some 19 years later, Plaskett is still in love with life, his music and this country, and says he’s seen much of Canada – including Salmon Arm in the 1990s, when he and the band had a three-day wait for a replacement part for their bus.
The irrepressible musician is looking forward to returning to perform with bandmates Dave Marsh on drums and back-up vocals and Chris Pennell on bass guitar and back-up vocals.
“Rock and roll is folk now,” he laughs as he describes the appeal of his music to fans of all ages.
Plaskett appears at the Salmar Classic Theatre at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, April 15. Tickets at $25 each are at Acorn Music in Salmon Arm, 250-832-8669, or online at www.ticketbreak.com.