Edmonton’s Captain Tractor toast 25 years on with double album, new music, rye whisky and the promise of more to come

Age gracefully.

And have a blast doing it.

That’s apparently the advice that Edmonton party-folk-pop mainstays Captain Tractor have been following for the past quarter century.

The band are in the midst of celebrating that milestone with a string of shows across Canada, including Dec. 14 and 15 at the Ironwood, as well as a couple of fairly special releases: a double-album titled 25 Years On, which features 17 remastered tracks spanning their career, two unreleased ones “from the vault” and four new tunes recorded earlier this year; and a special Twenty-Fifth Anniversary Limited Edition Captain Tractor Spiced Rye Whisky produced by Edmonton’s craft spiritmaker Hansen Distillery. 

And while they have admittedly slowed down considerably since those easy days when they were band vanning it across the continent and taking their songs overseas, co-vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Scott Peters says that there really is no end it sight.

“Exactly, we’re all talking about a new record. Going back in the studio was so much fun … we all wished we were making a full album,” he says.

“So that’s probably our next goal for the next couple of years is to get back in the studio and record a new one.”

First, though, are those Ironwood shows that will wrap up 2018: The Year of Captain Tractor.

Prior to those dates, Peters spoke with theYYSCENE.

Q: How are the celebrations going?

A: Pretty good, we’re having a blast on this tour.

Q: Twenty-five years — I think I’ve probably been covering you guys that long as well. Thank you for making me feel really, really old.

A: (Laughs) “Really old,” yeah, well we’re doing it to ourselves, too, so you know.

Q: Is it mind boggling that it has been 25 years and you’re still around in some incarnation or form?

A: Oh, yeah, for sure. It’s a very strange, mind-boggling feeling and it’s something like 200 in band years, isn’t it? (Laughs)

Q: How? How are you still here?

A: How are we still here? I don’t know, because I guess we still like each other, we still like playing together and make the music we make together. And you know, it’s not like we’ve been hard at it for the last 10 years, so maybe that’s part of it, too, we’re not in each other’s faces on a daily basis. And we still like each other — we still have fun together.

Q: And the music is such fun, party, drinking music and I’m guessing that helps, too.

A: Oh, totally, and we always have a blast when we get together and I think that translates to the audience, so the audience has fun when we play. We kind of liken it to a family dinner, that’s what it feels like when we get together and play now, because we don’t play all the time, we mostly do bigger stages and festivals and things like that, so when we get together to play it’s more like a family dinner and we laugh and, oh, my God it’s so much fun. I think that’s part of what’s kept us going and keeps us together, keeps us doing it.

Q: Musically how do you keep things fresh because there are obvious favourites — many that appear on the new double album — songs that you’ve probably played a billion times? How do you keep it fresh.

A: Probably because we don’t play them a ton, like I said we probably only play like 25 shows a year, so they’re still fresh when we play them. And we do rotate the lineup of songs, for sure, we take songs out and put them back in, so the setlist is always fresh for us. We have so many songs and we don’t play the same ones all the time — every show is different. Even in Edmonton, when we did two shows the setlists were different.

Q: So that will be the case in Calgary as well?

A: Yeah, the nights will be slightly different, yeah. And we’ve been adding some stuff on this tour that’s keeping us all pretty on our toes …

Q: So, whisky. I remember getting your beer sent to me back in the day (Edmonton’s Alley Kat brewery made a special Captain Tractor Yellowhead Wheat Ale). You’ve graduated from beer to whisky?

A: That’s right — so, Hansen Distillery made us this spiced rye whisky and it’s really good.

Q: So you’ll be selling it at the show?

A: It will be at the bar at the Ironwood, yeah.

Q: What you drink with it?

A: We’ve just been drinking it on the rocks but people really like it with coffee and somebody said the other day they had it with eggnog and that was really good. And Hansen Distillery made up a a whole half-a-dozen drinks based on it named after our songs, so that’s pretty great.

Q: After rye whisky, for year 50 how do you celebrate? Champagne?

A: (Laughs) I was going to say, yeah, we should start bottling the Champagne now.

(Photo courtesy Lyle Bell.)

Captain Tractor performs Friday, Dec. 14 and Saturday, Dec. 15 at the Ironwood. For reservations please call 403-269-5581.