Tucker Lane wound their way into these pages in the fall with their Sheryl Crow-ish single and video Paper Wings. You can read more about that HERE. Today, frontwoman Leslie Stanwyck of the rootsy Prairie pop-rock outfit — which also features bassist Johnny Sinclair, her former bandmate in The Pursuit of Happiness — takes a spin through my trivial questions. Let’s see how tuckered she is at the end of the line:
Introduce yourself: Name, age (feel free to lie), home base, other details you’d like to share (height, weight, identifying marks, astrology sign, your choice).
Hi, my name is Leslie Stanwyck from the band Tucker Lane and my home is in Saskatoon. I was born, raised, and lived in Toronto until we moved to Saskatoon 10 years ago. I’ll always be a Torontonian, but I love Saskatoon. As far as age, height and weight, let’s just say we’re all ageless and height and weight are an illusion. My sign however is Scorpio.
What is your musical origin story?
I was always drawn to music and to writing music. I begged my dad, who made his living as a musician, for a piano when I was five years old. Then I became obsessed with the guitar and at 13 had written a ton of songs with my childhood friend. We would play on the streets of Toronto as we were only 16 at the time. Later I had a band called The Red. Then I got a call from Moe Berg and was asked if I would audition for The Pursuit of Happiness, where I met my husband and best friend Johnny Sinclair. We left TPOH in 1990 and put together Loud Factory, which became Universal Honey. In 2010 we moved to Saskatoon, where Johnny spent his childhood. Johnny hooked up with his friend Brent Carlin, who plays guitar, and we put together Tucker Lane. We recorded a debut album in 2015 and have another album coming out which we are excited about.
What do we need to know about your latest project?
Our latest single is called Love and Hated. It’s from our upcoming album, which is yet to be titled. The album will be full of songs that offer different musical feels. Nods to different genres of music that the guys in the band have all loved. All of the songs work together well on the album due to the common element of FM pop and rock ’n’ roll that is reminiscent of the music we grew up with, that brought us joy. Our music has been compared to Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers with Chrissie Hynde singing. We have a lot of musical influences from The Stones to Lucinda Williams to Steve Earle and The Byrds.
What truly sets you apart from other artists?
My experiences and perspective. No one is going to see things exactly the same way as anybody else, all the time. That’s why it’s so much fun to collaborate and see what is born. I also think I’m able to mix a lot of different genres into one song, but maybe other artists feel that way too. I was raised by a jazz and big band musician, grew up in an era where there was an explosion of music. Country, rhythm and blues, pop, disco, electronic, they were all heard on the same radio station back then. That wide range of music totally influenced me as an artist.
What will I learn or how will my life improve by listening to your music?
I hope it brings you to a happy place. That’s really what most of us want, isn’t it? Happiness.
Tell us about the first song you wrote and / or the first gig you played and what you got paid.
The first song I remember writing was when I was maybe 7. When I was 11 I wrote my first full song, and I wrote all the lyrics too, which didn’t happen that often. The first line was “The world’s needs are many, but love is the greatest one” and it had a Burt Bacharach kind of melody. The first gigs I did were the ones we would play on the streets. We had the guitar case open and I think we made around $50 the first time we went out.
What is the best / worst / strangest / most memorable performance you have given?
Some of the worst and strangest were the shows we played in The Pursuit of Happiness opening for Eurythmics. We played through Europe with them, which was a blast; however, there were a few gigs where the audience didn’t like anyone other than Annie Lennox. They would chant her name as you were playing and throw stuff at you. When we played in Paris there was a chocolate bar company that handed out chocolate bars to everyone in the arena. When they needed something to throw at the opening band, guess what they used? We had two nights at that venue. The second night our management tried to get the company to hand out the bars as the people were leaving the arena, but they refused. So, the second night we were all at the side of the stage dreading going out because we knew it would be half an hour of being a moving target. Of course, when I think of it now it’s a great story, but at the time it was kind of weird.
What is the best / worst / strangest / most memorable performance you’ve seen another artist give?
One of the best shows I saw was when Aerosmith came to Toronto on their Pump tour. They were back at it and off drugs and you could feel their joy coming from the stage. They had a great energy. I also saw Joan Jett in Pittsburgh and she rocked. Full of energy and just loving it. Another amazing concert was David Bowie on his Let’s Dance tour where I was at the back of the stadium and then was able to go to the front row because of having a friendly chat with a sponsor. That was amazing! Other memorable concerts would be seeing Paul McCartney in Frankfurt Germany on the Flowers in the Dirt tour. I was crying in the audience when he sang Hey Jude. One of the worst shows I saw was Jonathan Richman at the Refinery. He wouldn’t play any of his songs that people were asking for and he was angry and bitter about it and expressed this to the audience. You could feel it from him in his whole performance and it wasn’t comfortable.
What do you want to be doing in 10 years?
Always music. Writing music. Recording. Hanging out with my family, Johnny and Julian. Spending time with my sister and brothers, my mom and dad, I hope. Family and friends and music. What else do you need?
What living or dead artists would you collaborate with if you could?
Keith Richards for sure! I love him! The years of experience behind those eyes! All those stories! I would’ve loved to have collaborated with Bowie, another one of my favorite artists. When I started listening to him, he blew my mind. Oh ya also, Lou Reed, Tom Petty and Chrissie Hynde. The more current writers that would be cool to write with would be Kid Cudi or Miranda Lambert. As you can see my taste in music is very wide!
What artist or style of music do you love that would surprise people?
Hip Hop and some really heavy stuff like Death Grips. We get exposed to a lot of current music because our son loves ALL kinds of music and is constantly finding new artists to listen to. We love that he shares this with us!
What are your favourite songs / albums / artists right now?
I have a playlist that I’ve called Happy Place that has all my favorite songs throughout my life. It has songs from B.W. Stevenson, Frank Sinatra, Badfinger, The Stones, Bowie, T. Rex, The Velvet Underground, Television, The Clash, Sugar, Frank Black, Guided By Voices, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Julian Cope, Joni Mitchell, ‘Til Tuesday and Shovels & Rope.
How about some other favourites: Authors, movies, painters, you name it.
Hunter S. Thompson is probably my favorite writer. He just has a way with words that makes me laugh out loud. I also think I read all of Ernest Hemingway’s books. I was hooked after A Moveable Feast. My favorite movies that have stood the test of time are The Godfather and Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid. I love a lot of painters but the two that really stick out to me are Joan Miro and Pablo Picasso. I think because I had the opportunity to see their exhibits. Locally, there was an artist in Saskatoon named Hugo Alverado, who recently passed away. He was an amazing man and his art is beautiful.
Who would you be starstruck to meet?
Keith Richards. I might faint. I don’t think I would have words that’s for sure. I would probably just cry.
What’s your favourite joke?
What’s brown and sticky? A stick. It’s simple and easy to tell and it’s been my favorite since I heard it 20 years ago.
What do you drive and why?
A Ford. It has a remote start and is a good winter car, which is important here. We had a Jetta that was smashed by a senior citizen with a lead foot in an icy parking lot.
What superpower do you want and how would you use it?
If there was a superpower that you could use that would make people happy that would be amazing. Just look into their eyes and they would have that ah ha moment that their life is amazing and that the happiness they thought always eluded them was right there in themselves. I know it might sound corny but that would be a pretty amazing superpower, I think.
What skills — useful or useless — do you have outside of music?
I think I’m a good mediator. I’m also pretty good at debating; my dad always told me I would make a good lawyer. I’m good at untangling something, like hair or a necklace or a rope. I’m good at writing lists and setting goals, although I’m not always good at keeping them, lol. I’m also good at putting on my own make up, I think. Also, I do my own baking at Christmas and make a pretty good Chicken Tikka Masala.
What do you collect?
Nothing really, just songs in my head, and memories. And even those I need help recalling sometimes.
If I had a potluck, what would you bring?
Lasagne. I make a pretty good meat lasagne. I use to put spinach in it but my son didn’t like it so I left out the spinach and put more cottage cheese in it, and it’s actually better now.
What current trend or popular thing do you not understand at all?
The thing I find silly is there being so many social media platforms. We post every other day for our band and I copy and paste the same post on three different platforms. I find it kind of crazy.
Tell us about your current and/or former pets.
We currently have a cat named Tiger. I thought I was a “dog person” for most of my life, mostly because cats scared me. When our son turned 7, he asked for a cat. We tried to gently persuade him to get a dog but he said he thought he might be a cat person. So, we went for it. He’s an awesome cat. He’s taught me that I’m not a “dog person” after all; I’m an “animal person.”
If you could have any other job besides music, what would it be and why?
That’s hard. It would have to be something creative or something helping people.
What’s the best advice and/or worst advice you were ever given?
The best advice was from my dad who always use to tell me when I would say I’ve heard this or that, he would say “Look at the source.” And now I always do, even if it takes time. I try to find out what or who is behind what is being said. That will tell you a lot! The worst advice? When I was kid it was common for adults to say “kids should be seen and not heard.” That’s a load of crap. Kids need to be listened to as their perspective usually has a lot of insight.