It’s early on a Tuesday morning, and Cody Canada has just pulled up to a south Texas recording studio to lay down a guitar track and vocals on two other songs for his upcoming album with his band, The Departed.
Later in the day, bassist Jeremy Plato was expected to stop by and add his vocals. At that point, Canada believes The Departed’s new album will be done.
For 16 years, Canada and Plato made up half of the seminal country-rock, Oklahoma-based group Cross Canadian Ragweed. The hard touring band established themselves as one of the all-time greatest acts of the Red Dirt Music scene. But the band called it quits in 2010 after an alleged amicable split, though in a recent interview with the Dallas Observer Canada indicated tension between guitarist Grady Cross and the other members also played a role.
After Ragweed, Canada and Plato formed The Departed along with guitarist Seth James, Steve Littleton on the B3 organ and recently added Chris Doege on drums. Their first record, This is Indian Land, was an album of cover songs. Canada describes it as a “transition” record to get his new band off the ground and a “time buyer” while The Departed started writing their own material.
Now, The Departed have gone through an album and touring cycle, and Canada believes “the dust is starting to settle” on the transition between his old band and his new outfit, and he’s extremely pleased with it.
Canada is ready to release his first album of new material in nearly four years, which he said is “far too long” for him to go between albums.
To say The Departed have been busy writing may be an understatement. Canada said he expected 16 or 17 new songs to be on the record.
“It sounds like I’m in the band, it sounds like Seth James is in the band, it sounds like Jeremy Plato is in the band. It just sounds like everything that we’ve grown up with and been writing for the past 20 years of our lives,” he said, describing the new record in a nutshell. “It’s everything I thought it was going to be. It’s our voices, our opinions and it’s topics that have been swirling around us the past two years.”
Overall, Canada said the sound of the new record will have a harder edge to it than Ragweed. Though he acknowledged there will still be elements that will sound like his old band.
“I think no matter what Jeremy or I are involved in it’s going to sound like Ragweed just because we did it for so long, and our voices are pretty distinct, I think, especially when we’re together,” he said. “With Ragweed, we did a lot of rock-n-roll stuff. But this one was…it really felt like that Soundgarden, Stone Temple Pilots influence was coming out. A lot of that stuff I’ve always wanted to do it, but I felt I couldn’t do it with my other band.”
Canada says the band has been playing about six of the new songs in concert. He hopes to have the record out before the end of the year.
On Thursday, The Departed returns to the State Room, and once again are playing in Salt Lake City on their way up to the annual 3-day Bruan Brothers Reunion music festival in Challis, Idaho, featuring Micky & The Motorcars, Reckless Kelly and many more of the top names in Americana music. Canada said that show and the Steamboat Music Festival in Colorado each January are the two he looks forward to the most because it’s the only time of year those bands all get to hang out together.
Canada says the Salt Lake show is always fun because many of the fans – as well as the musicians – headed to the Braun Brothers Reunion add an extra night of music by stopping first in Utah. Last year, Reckless Kelly was a last minute addition to open The Departed’s State Room show, and Stoney LaRue jumped on stage for a song.
This year, Canada said he had been texting Virginia-based Sons of Bill to show up in Salt Lake before heading to Idaho. which would once again make for an outstanding double bill.
“I have a pretty good feeling they’re going to be there,” he said.
The other reason the Salt Lake show is always special to Canada is because it lands on he and his wife, Shannon’s, wedding anniversary.
“I always work up an old tune I wrote for my wife,” he said while promising this year won’t be any different.
Tickets for Cody Canada & The Departed’s State Room show are available at the venue. Fans should get their tickets now, as it sounds like one never knows who will show up Thursday night to play!