Politics, religion and rock and roll

David Usher will be playing the Spectrum this Saturday in support of If God Had Curves, his latest solo effort.

Calling from Toronto just before rehearsals, Usher said he can’t wait to play for the city he once called home. “There’s such good energy in that city [and] we always have a blast going there. I have a lot of friends and they all come out to the show [so] it’s quite a fun party,” he said.

This will be Usher’s second show in Montreal since the release of this record, and one where fans can expect to see the fruits of the past six month’s labour with a new set list and an extra treat.

In an attempt to delve us even deeper into this album, Usher has been hard at work completing his DVD, Walk.Don’t.Run, available online and at the shows. Usher said that the DVD is “a very personal look at the way I make records, shot much more like a documentary. It’s about thoughts and ideas and process, and [it’s] a collection of works behind making a record.”

Certainly, If God Had Curves is an album filled with many interesting ideas. “It definitely has the New York energy in terms of the changing social fabric of America,” Usher said. There’s the idea that there’s a lot of observations about the way the social contract is changing, where you really have a sense of a serious conflict between the secular and religious and the political parties going on right now about how society should be defined, and what the core values are in that society.”

That’s all pretty heavy stuff compared to the nature of subjects discussed in most of today’s pop music, but Usher believes that these are things we have to discuss because it’s important that society learns “to live together as humans and respect basic rights.”

This is the definition of humanism, a theme that Usher feels characterizes his fourth album. We should be more willing to “cross boundaries [so that] it’s not about your race, colour, creed, sexual orientation or religion; it’s more about [your humanity] and the importance of diversity and having a diverse culture that embraces people that are different,” he said.

Usher’s recent relocation to the US has enabled him to see many differences between how issues like these are dealt by both North American countries. “There’s a fundamentalism going on in America with evangelicals and born-agains that is very exclusive and divisive and wants to step on other people’s rights,” he said. “[Canada’s] a country that has pretty much legalized pot, gay marriage, and we have health care. So maybe Canada is sort of the beacon for social reform – a new sort of social contract within [North] America.”

This kind of atmosphere, rife with debate and political energy, has always been one that Usher feeds off of for inspiration and creativity. And while, like any other artist, Usher would love to break into the American market and attain international success, this isn’t as important to him than actually playing shows in the States and getting his music out there.

No matter what the future holds and where he ends up, Usher says he just wants to keep making music. “I am driven by the songs. My life sort of ebbs and flows with my family and whichever song I’m working on at the time. If it’s going well then I’m doing pretty good, if it’s going badly then I’m not doing so well.” Considering that Saturday’s concert is on the verge of selling out, it looks like things will be going very well for Usher indeed.

David Usher plays the Spectrum on Saturday, October 22 with Matthew Barber. Showtime 8 p.m., tickets $29 plus tax and service charge.


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