Rough Trade to be inducted into indie hall of fame
Simon Hayter/Torstar news service
Ask Carole Pope if Rough Trade initially set out to break down the barriers of sexuality in the music and entertainment industry and she provides an interesting answer: “We were just doing what we were doing and making a political statement about sexuality but with a sense of humour. I think art, being any kind of an artist, is just presenting your point of view and so many people related to it.”
Canadian Music Week is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year and Canadian act Rough Trade will be inducted into the Hall of Fame at the Indies, the awards ceremony honouring the best in Canadian independent music.
Pope and Rough Trade partner Kevan Staples met in 1968, and officially formed Rough Trade in 1974. Their explicitly sexual lyrics combined with Pope’s open homosexuality, resulted in radio bans of certain Rough Trade songs and gained Pope the nickname ‘Raunch Queen’. Possibly their most well-known song, High School Confidential, was one of the first obviously lesbian-themed Top 40 singles in the world.
When questioned if, initially, there was an awareness of Rough Trade creating something special and big, Pope replies, “I think we got together for the love of making music and trying to get something different and unique out there and we were kind of surprised by our success. But there was an audience, there was just a ready made audience for it.”
Commenting on the importance of commercial success, Pope admits “I guess, it got to be important to us at some point, when we got a record deal and started making records and stuff started to chart. I wish then we’d had more success in the U.S. and the rest of the world, but we were a very innovative band and ahead of our time, so that kind of plays into things.” As for her solo material, she adds laughing, “Is success important to me now? I’d like to get my music played on the radio more than it is.”
True to being independent artists, Pope says the commercial success didn’t change Rough Trade’s content or the way they presented it. “We wrote what worked for me, what made me happy. I think being an artist you have to be true to yourself, because people know when you’re being dishonest. That’s why people were very influenced by Rough Trade and they still are…that is the most gratifying thing about Rough Trade.”
Rough Trade performs tonight night at the Docks and Pope performs Thursday at the Hard Rock Café.
CMW Indie Awards