Tim Hicks: Homegrown Hero Hoping to "Get Loud!"
By David DeRocco
With a virtually sold-out show scheduled for his hometown of St. Catharines November 16th, you’d think country music star TIM HICKS would be jacking up the rider with the backstage necessities required to fully enjoy his “Let’s Get Loud” tour homecoming at the Meridian Centre. But like a true-blooded Canadian – one who’s biggest personal indulgences on the tour bus are bringing his own pillow and a heavy sleeping bag – Tim’s not one to get sucked into the road excesses often associated with burgeoning stardom. That is, with one vitally important exception.
“It’s funny you mention that,” said Hicks, who kicked off his 19-date national tour November 1st in Toronto. “We actually paired down our rider because I can’t stand wasting stuff. We’d roll in and there would be wonderful meat trays and cheese and veggie trays and the guys wouldn’t touch them. So we’re trying to dial a little bit of that back. What does have to stay the same is the booze. We can’t live without that. We can live without the sweaty cheese trays. We can’t live without our bottle of tequila.”
All kidding aside, Hicks and his bandmates certainly have more to celebrate than just headlining the Meridian Centre, the biggest venue in a city where the multi-platinum selling artist once toiled playing covers to half-empty bars. With the release of his most recent album New Tattoo – his fourth release in five years – Hicks has once again proven himself to be a master craftsman when it comes to weaving giant hooks and impactful lyrics into rock-infused, boot-scooting new country tunes. Loyal fans and new converts are definitely taking notice of Hick’s high-energy hybrid, with tour dates from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Abbotsford, British Columbia indicative of his growing national appeal with country music lovers. However, as referenced in New Tattoo’s smash hit first single “Loud,” there’s nothing quite like “the roar of a hometown crowd,” and Hicks is looking forward to a thunderous welcome when he and his bandmates take the stage this November.
“It’s going to be amazing,” said Hicks, a CCMA winner, SOCAN award winner, multiple JUNO Award nominee and recent winner of the 2018 CMAOntario Compass Award. “So many people, even strangers, have stopped me at Walmart or the produce section of Zehrs saying ‘we’ve got our tickets, we’re coming.’ I can sense the excitement in St. Catharines and we’re so excited to be coming to play that room. It’s located where I used to park my minivan when I lived downtown. To me, just getting that booking at Meridian Centre is a win. Being able to play the biggest room right smack dab in the middle of downtown is going to be fun.”
Hicks had some unexpected fun during last year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs, when “Loud” was adopted by the NHL to help hype the games. That affiliation lead to a dream opportunity October 27th at Toronto’s newly named Scotiabank Arena, where Hicks was chosen to perform Stompin’ Tom’s “The Hockey Song” to honour its induction into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame. Hicks admits that being a part of the salute to Connors had him a little on edge prior to his abridged performance of the iconic 1973 Canadian classic.
“I was nervous at the press conference, because all of Stompin’ Tom’s family was there, plus all the national media, all the music industry big wigs. I was a little bit like a fish out of water. But once the conference was over all the nerves were gone. At the hockey game, I was in my element standing in front of a crowd. It was a lot of fun, even if I only got to play a minute-twenty of the song.”
As the headliner on a tour date that includes singer/songwriter Teybey and special guest Madeline Merlo, Hicks will have plenty of time to play complete versions of any song he wants. However, with his growing catalogue of great material, Hicks admits he and his bandmates are struggling to whittle down the set list to fit into their allotted time on stage.
“That’s the biggest discussion we have prior to the tour, what’s going to come out of the set,” said Hicks, whose Canadian-crafted brand of country rock has been earning him comparisons to American mega-stars Eric Church and Brantley Gilbert. “With four records now it’s getting more difficult to choose what we can fit into a 75 minute slot. I always try to fit something in for us, something that isn’t necessarily “Stronger Beer” or “Get By,” something interesting for the band. Which is usually something new or an album cut that’s fun to play. Trying to balance that but still promoting the new record. It can be challenging. We’re taking some chances this time around. I think it’s going to be a great show.”
Returning home at the mid-way point of the tour, Hicks knows there will be plenty of demand on his personal guest list from friends and family hoping to see both him and the show. And while the always approachable superstar-in-the-making will do his best to accommodate, he knows there is bound to be some odd requests for tickets from unexpected sources.
“I said as a joke that I’ll be hearing from all the girls who dumped me in in high school,” laughed Hicks, when asked if he had any success-being-the-ultimate-revenge fantasies about returning to the Garden City. “I’ve had such a great ride really. I don’t hold any grudges at this point. It’s just nice to be able to do my thing. I’ve seen lots of posts from people I haven’t heard from for a long time who are coming to the show. Unfortunately I won’t be able to say hi to all of them. But it will be a really cool night.”
To buy your tickets visit: http://www.meridiancentre.com/.
YOUR TICKET TO THE S HOW HELPS BENEFIT CANADIAN MUSICIANS:
For his “Get Loud Tour” Hicks has partnered with PLUS1 so that $1 from every ticket goes directly to Unison Fund and their work providing counseling and emergency relief services to the Canadian music community. “I wish I had known that there was the Unison Fund out there helping musicians,” said Hicks. “As a guy that suffers from chronic eye issues, I spent thousands on surgery. If I can give a little back and bring awareness to the fund amongst working musicians I’m like yeah, get me involved.” Learn more by visiting www.unisonfund.ca.