When speaking with two-time Juno Award nominee Jeremy Fisher, it’s difficult to know whether to ask him about the release of his new album or his bias towards touring on a bicycle.
The Canadian folk-pop-roots singer-songwriter, last seen in these parts at the 2011 Edmonton Folk Festival, released his fifth album Mint Juleps in July 2012. He will perform with Emm Gryner to a sold out concert at the Arden Theatre on Saturday, Feb. 2.
“It’s the kind of record you’d listen to on a lazy Sunday afternoon while you’re sipping a bourbon,” says Fisher. “The southern culture is so rich with acoustic music and tradition.”
But, no, Fisher won’t be strapping on his helmet for his upcoming Alberta-British Columbia tour. His bicycle is parked while snow is on the ground.
The singer-cyclist made headlines in 2001 when he broke into the music scene with an indie debut album, Back Porch Spirituals. Low on cash, the troubadour developed an unorthodox, but ecologically sound approach to promoting his album.
Fisher planned a six-month cycling tour from Seattle across Canada to Halifax. The tour dubbed One Less Tourbus, crossed 7,500 kilometres and presented 30 performances.
Preferring nature’s breezes to polluting vehicles, the fitness enthusiast finds van touring both physically and mentally exhausting.
“I ride about 100 kilometres on a show day. That’s about four to six hours of cycling unless there’s a strong headwind. I feel good and energized before a show. I pass out afterwards and sleep really well. I find the pace so much more relaxing.”
The singer’s first extensive ride was in 1998 on a cross-Canada trip filled with killer climbs and magnificent views. By the time Fisher reached Moose Jaw, he’d run out of money. To pay for groceries, he picked cans and pop bottles from ditches and busked on street corners.
After his debut album, the affable singer-songwriter continued establishing solo credentials with Let It Shine (2004), Goodbye Blue Monday (2007) and Flood (2010).
The ever-restless Fisher also founded Malahat Revue with fellow pop musicians Said the Whale, Hannah Georgas and Aidan Knight. In the summer of 2010, the hardcore cycling collective used its pedal power to complete a 500-kilometre tour of British Columbia.
Fisher, it turns out, is a homespun kind-of-guy and in some ways, a bicycle is a metaphor for his philosophy of life.
“A bicycle serves us. It’s an incredibly efficient way of transportation. Riding a bike is more fun than a car. There’s something to be learned from the simplicity of a bicycle – the way it works, the beauty of the way it works and how it hasn’t changed that much over the years.”
That do-it-yourself attitude so visible in songwriting and cycling is also a core tenet of a personal life drawn toward simplicity in all things.
“The most important thing is the company you keep,” he said. “I’ve lived in a lot of different places. The community you live in is very important and an active lifestyle is very important. I find a lot of joy in making things, not because they’re better, but because there is joy in learning things.”
Mint Juleps, his first solo release on Hidden Pony Records, is a delicately flavoured 12-track of assorted relationship songs. They vary from The Part That Breaks, a heartbreak, heart-on-the-sleeve tune to Canned Goods, a song that brings to life nostalgic memories of his grandmother’s farm.
At the Arden concert, Fisher plans a mixed set list and a duet with Gryner.
“I’ve heard a lot about the Arden Theatre,” he said. “It’s my first time performing there and I’m flattered all the tickets are sold.”