Despite his varied musical career, songwriter Craig Northey keeps returning to his Odds job

Consider it the Great White North version of the Kevin Bacon game: Six degrees of Craig Northey.

There’s seemingly no one in this nation who hasn’t worked with or had some contact with (or worked with someone who worked with or had some contact with someone who had some contact with) the Jack of all musical trades.

In fact, on this particular morning chatting with the B.C.-based artist it proves an easy one to play.

Two days prior there was also a conversation with Bruce McCulloch, noted member of the Kids In the Hall, whose 1996 film Brain Candy and reunion series Death Comes to Town the musician scored. He also worked with the comic and filmmaker in 2002 on the album Drunk Baby Project and again recently on a web series that Northey’s children, daughter Aleita and son Cole, produced for the CBC, This Blows — McCulloch writing, dad supplying the music.

That day there was also a Tweet from the author on a book about XTC, What Do You Call That Noise?, in which Northey is featured opining about his love for the legendary Britpop band.

The next day saw an interview with veteran Canadian country singer Aaron Pritchett, whose latest video Better When I Do was directed by the aforementioned offspring Cole. 

And then there are all of his collaborations with members of every big-time Canadian act such as The Tragically Hip, Barenaked Ladies, Sloan and The Pursuit of Happiness, as well as working with other artists such as Rosanne Cash, Colin James and Jesse Valenzuela from The Gin Blossoms, with whom he also wrote the theme to beloved Brent Butt sitcom Corner Gas.

Craig Northey is always only but a degree away.

“I did diversify, at some point, I can’t remember when, and that’s led to keeping my life interesting,” he says.

“I’m a say yes-er, so what happens is someone says, ‘I’m over here doing this thing that looks really interesting, do you think you could do that?’ And then I say, ‘Of course.’ ”

He laughs. “And then I figure out, well, you know what, it’s harder than it looks. And that takes awhile and then I end up getting OK at it …

“I just generally get excited about things and interested in them and I do it.”

Yet, despite all of those divergent roads, his own journey always returns him back to Odds, the Canadian pop-rock band that formed in Vancouver in the late ’80s (brought together by the members’ mutual love of the Beatles and, not surprisingly, XTC) and sweetened up the country’s airwaves throughout much of the ’90s with hits such as Heterosexual Man, Truth Untold, Eat My Brain and Someone Who’s Cool.

They recorded, charted and toured extensively — even as Warren Zevon’s backing band — before Northey decided to take an almost decade-long break while doing many of those aforementioned degrees of other things.

He still does, but there will always be Odds.

“No, there’s no quitting, it’s still alive,” he says.

They’ll prove that Thursday, Jan. 17 when they perform a local show at The Palomino as part of a quick January jaunt. 

They also proved that this past holiday season when they released a jangly, jaunty, joyous and ridiculously catchy Christmas song, Love Is What You Get, which was released to coincide with their participation in the CP Holiday Train raising money for the Food Banks, with proceeds from the track going towards the Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund.

It is their first studio work since a trio of EPs released over 2013/14 — The Most Beautiful Place on Earth, Game Face On and Party Party Party.

“I guess for the public, yes,” Northey clarifies. “We do all kinds of things in secret for ourselves as we develop things, but the last thing anybody heard would have been that.”

The secret should become public hopefully soon, as the guitarist/singer admits they’ve almost completed a double-album’s worth of material, which they’ll either release as that or do what they did the last time and spoon it out in several EPs over the course of a year or so.

“We’re going to try to get it done,” he says. “I mean, that’s the problem with diversification — all four of us are out doing things together and separately quite a lot. It’s hard to get everyone in one place at the same time, and we’re an actual democratic society so it’s hard for one person to just take over and finish it. So we’ve got an album sitting there and then we’ll put it out.”

As to whether or not the current tour will give Odds fans a taste of what’s to come, Northey is non-committal.

“Perhaps. Perhaps. We’ll see,” he says. “Generally we like to make sure everyone gets the things they’re expecting to get because we’re populists, perhaps, and then we’ll add in stuff that we have fun playing.”

That, ultimately, is the reason Northey and Co. — Doug Elliott, Pat Steward and 10-year guitarist Murray Atkinson — keep returning to the band no matter where else they and their talents have been led them over the past three decades.

No matter how long or many degrees he and they are separated from it, it’s never too far away that they can’t or don’t want to get back to it for the one and only reason that matters — it’s still what they love doing.

“I suppose all of us feel we left the ambitious music business many years ago and have just been doing this for ourselves,” he says. “But I think when we were expected to be trying very hard to be on the radio and all of that kind of stuff we felt exactly the same way anyway.”

Northey laughs again. “We were always doing it for ourselves — making music — and then all of a sudden we had people who liked it and could relate to it. And that is pretty cool.”

(Photo courtesy Wayne Hoecherl.)

Odds perform Thursday, Jan. 17 at The Palomino. Tickets are available from