Andrew H. Walker, Getty Images Nine days after the deadly tornado that touched…
- Posted on Sep 21st 2012 1:00PM by Sarah Kurchak
After a lengthy and fruitless struggle to find enough free time in both of their schedules to actually meet in a studio and play "This Wheel's on Fire" together for The Band tribute album Garth Hudson Presents: A Canadian Celebration of The Band, Belitsky had pretty much given up all hope.
"It just seemed like one of those things that would always be a rumor," the drummer tells Spinner. "Like a carrot on the end of a stick. We were on a treadmill and someone kept moving the carrot further."
When the day and the studio time were finally booked, the reality of the situation started to dawn on the band ever so slowly.
"I jumped on the streetcar to get to the studio and then I'm walking along the street where the studio is and, all of a sudden, I just hear this guitar tone coming out of the studio before I even entered and I was like 'That's undeniably the sound of Neil Young's guitar.' And then I was like, 'Holy shit. This is actually going to happen!'" Belitsky says. "And then he showed up and he was totally cool."
Cool as he was, The Sadies didn't have the time to indulge their inner Young fanboys while Shakey was working out the song and recording with them.
"It's just a bunch of guys trying to get together with a limited amount of time, trying to do the best recording we can. So we all just concentrated and focused up," he says.
Still, there was the occasional moment when the band were able to step back and enjoy what was happening.
"The first time we started running through it, and we figured out how we were going to start it and then we came in and everyone was playing it and the he started singing and it was like 'Holy shit, man! That guy sounds like Neil Young... Oh, that is Neil Young!'" he says with a laugh.
When their version "This Wheel's On Fire" was successfully recorded and Neil had left the building, Belitsky -- who learned how to drum by playing along to some of Young's early records -- finally realized the enormity of the situation.
"All of a sudden it me and I was like... I'm not a big drinker or a big smoker, but I was like 'You know what, man? I need to have a cigarette and a shot of whiskey,' just to celebrate or ground myself a bit. I knew that we had to keep it together during recording, but we kind of let loose a bit afterwards, I guess."
Now that The Sadies, who have established themselves as the preferred touring mates of bands like Blue Rodeo and The Tragically Hip as well as the favorite backing band for the likes of Andre Williams and Neko Case, are gearing up for a cross-Canada tour with Neil Young, Belitsky admits that he indulges in the occasional outlandish fantasy about collaborating on the road.
"In my fantasy? Yeah, we hang out and make a total back room record with Neil Young on tour. But do I really think that's going to happen? No."
His actual desires for the tour are far more simple.
"I hope that maybe I can hang out with him for a few nights and talk about the San Jose Sharks. That would be perfectly acceptable. And if none of that happens, I'd still be happy."
The Sadies play Pop Montreal on Sept. 22.