Trooper may well be the most popular Canadian band ever in Canada, their musical legacy stretching back to the mid 1970s comprising a vast catalogue of hit songs that still remain staples today of Canadian classic rock. The group performed at the Rock The Lake inaugural festival in Kelowna last summer and return to the Okanagan this year to perform at West Kelowna’s Royal LePage Place on Friday, June 2, the first rock concert ever held at that venue. They also will play at the Penticton Peach Festival on Aug. 10. Black Press senior regional reporter Barry Gerding recently interviewed lead singer Ra McGuire via email about the history behind the band, their music and Trooper’s place in Canadian music history today.
BG: How many shows or how long a touring schedule does the band have this year?
McGuire: So far there are 26 or 27 shows booked for 2017. An Ottawa Grey Cup show booking just recently came in.
Some of your original band members, such as Tommy Stewart, Donni Underhill and Frank Ludwig, moved on to other things over the course of Trooper’s tenure. What keeps you and Brian Smith motivated to keep touring year after year? How long do you want to keep it going?
Doni, Tommy and Frank all left the band – so, really, Smitty and I were just the last men standing. There was a period there, where being the two leftover Trooper guys was not particularly empowering for us. Speaking for myself, I am still performing because I love doing it – and record crowds keep coming out to do it with us. It’s a really rare, and beautiful, combination.
Where did the name Trooper originate from?
“Trouper” is an old vaudeville term for a performer who keeps doing his tap dance, even though the roof is falling in. We changed it a bit so people didn’t mispronounce it as Trowper.
Trooper has become an iconic band in Canada and you received many, many honours in recognition of that fact. Given your success in your home country, any regrets that you didn’t enjoy similar level of success in the U.S.?
American success, and in our case the lack thereof, is a complicated topic that I could probably write a book about. Back when we were striving hard, US success and its associated riches was definitely the most attractive goal to strive for. And we did tour pretty hard in America in the seventies. As things have worked out, though, I’m really proud that we’ve ended up becoming a Canada-only band. I honestly have no regrets. I am very grateful for our Canadian situation.
“American Dream” was written as a reflection on our travels in the US and I was trying to allegorically compare and contrast our two cultures. The unspoken upshot, in my mind, is: I like it a lot better here in Canada.