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to me during the course of the day. Instead of calling someone and going ‘Check this out,’ you can just put it up on Twitter. There’ve been a few over the years where my drummer said ‘Hey, put this one up,’ but in general, I wrote 99 percent of them. I was always a fan of Groucho Marx and Bob Hope, that kind of humour. I do other things on Twitter but it’s mostly a huge waste of time.

LAW: After your cancer scare from a couple years back, have things felt a lot brighter? SEXSMITH: (Maybe) if it turned out I actually had cancer and beat it. It was just a momentary thing for a couple months, and it turned out to be this benign thing. I was very relieved it wasn’t anything serious. Immediately after I was feeling (good), but then you go back to taking everything for granted like you always do. You never really learn your lesson. I’ve had a friend who’s beaten cancer twice now. He had to go through some pretty heavy stuff, and he’s great now. It’s like it never happened. It’s weird. But…it’s very unsettling when you’re a singer and they tell you there’s a lump in your throat. I had a few months of quietly freaking out about it.

LAW: After that, would you hesitate to call Carousel One your happiest record? You’re even smiling on the cover. SEXSMITH: It is a happy record, but I don’t know if it had anything to do with that. The first song I wrote for it was “St. Bernard,” which was a fun song to write. That just set the tone. On all my records there have been up-tempo songs and stuff, even Long Player Late Bloomer (2011), although that one was more grouchy lyrically. But with humour. I think (the new) record’s just a bit sunnier, and that was sort of unintentional.

LAW: You and (Metallica) producer Bob Rock seemed like the unlikeliest pairing imaginable. Was that just a way to challenge yourself? SEXSMITH: When I got the idea for that, I had just seen the Metallica movie (Some Kind of Monster) and I really liked him in that movie. And also I was at a point where I was a bit discouraged about my career. Everything was pointing to Bob Rock. I happened to bump into him on the street at the JUNOs and he told me

he was a fan. Later on that night I kept asking all these people – like Bryan Adams, Michael Buble – who I should work with, and they all said Bob Rock. So the next day I asked my manager to reach out to his people. I was kind of fragile – if Bob would have said no, I think I would have went further into despair. Bob was great and that album (Long Player Late Bloomer) did very well for me for a change.

LAW: Have you ever worried that if you had a massive-selling album, you wouldn’t make another one for several years? SEXSMITH: Never really thought about it. I remember when my first album came out and all the reviews were good, I was feeling a little pressure. ‘Now what am I gonna do on the second album?’ But I never thought about it again. A lot of people said ‘Why didn’t you work with Bob Rock on the next record?,’ but the songs on the next record I don’t think were appropriate for the kind of production Bob does.

LAW: How was it watching Love Shines for the first time? SEXSMITH: It was really hard for me to watch it. I don’t like to see myself anyway, and (I’m) up there for 90 minutes or so. I have a lot of issues with it - I think it could have been so much better. But then I was surprised people liked it. When I heard that the BBC was going to air it in the UK…I was freaked out it was going to end my career. It had the opposite effect. Everyone kind of flipped out over it. Maybe I’m too close to it, but I just felt the director (Douglas Arrowsmith) was out to make this really sad movie. Which isn’t representative of my life in general.

LAW: Have you talked to him since? SEXSMITH: Oh yeah, I see him from time to time. I respect him for doing it because he was filming me for about six years before he had any funding. I was kind of hoping it would never happen, and all of a sudden he has this production company, and then they were around all the time. The whole point of the movie changed. The original idea was about me playing Massey Hall, and then it changed to me at my low point trying to make a record with Bob Rock. Which I sort of got might be more interesting for people.

LAW: Your hometown changes every time you come back here. SEXSMITH: When I’m down there more than a few days I like to walk around. I’ll walk by the old school and the old school isn’t there any more. Or the shops that aren’t there, that’s natural. My best friend’s house got demolished. But then I see things like the new Arts Centre, and the downtown seems to be making an effort to come back to life. It feels like a city that’s coming back.

- John Law, Niagara Falls Review

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