They were never meant to be an album, but the songs Jay Semko was writing turned into one.

“Basically, about a year and a half ago, I cleaned myself up,” said Semko. “I had some substance abuse issues.”

A member of the Canadian group The Northern Pikes, Semko recently released his third solo studio album, International Superstar, and is appearing in Halifax this weekend as part of a tour supporting the CD.

“It’s been great,” said Semko who is crossing Eastern Canada as part of a three piece band — a set up he’s musically enjoying. “It’s tough, you are singing and playing and it all counts.

“Playing brand new songs is the funnest thing for me.”

It didn’t start off fun. The new album began to develop while Semko was in a rehab clinic, mainly for alcohol abuse. He was allowed to take a guitar with him.

“I was in the early recovery stages and they were all about the dark side, and what it was like to be there,” he said. “A lot of them were really good songs, but what happened is that I started feeling better, feeling happier and more positive.

“I didn’t know if it was correct for me to put out an album of this stuff right now.”

With his new outlook on life, Semko took the advice of his friends and went to Nashville. He’d been there before, but never for an extended period of time.

“I didn’t feel bummed out, and life was getting even better,” Semko said. “I took a trip down, set up some writing sessions — just a couple — but it ended up being a domino effect.”

He began collaborating with more writers, and soon International Superstar — with its playful melodies and tongue-in-cheek lyrics — began taking shape.

“I think the guys I wrote with got a kick out of working with me,” said Semko. “I came back with a platoon of songs and I realized, ‘Hey, this is an album.’”

Latest From ...