SAULT STE. MARIE, Ont. — It’s four hours to show time and the members of Doc Walker are working on their serves.
“You know, the guys are sitting here playing tennis right now. … We have Wii on the bus and everybody has been playing tennis or bowling,” says Chris Thorsteinson, his voice barely audible over the background yells and cheers of bandmates Dave Wasyliw and Murray Pulver as the two go head-to-head on the home video game console.
“So we are kind of addicted to Wii right now.”
Armed with a new album, a recent Western Canadian Music Award and national recognition thanks to a Juno win in March and several previous nods for the coveted prize, it’s easy to see why the Portage La Prairie, Man., boys are confident enough in their own skin not to suffer from serious bouts of pre-show stage fright.
And thanks to the commercial and critical success of their previous album, “Beautiful Life,” and its accompanying singles, Doc Walker has leaped into that coveted league of bands that must play signature singles at each show if calm is to be maintained among the faithful.
“Oh yeah, I mean Rocket Girl and Beautiful Life . . . You have to play those and it’s a great part of the set,” Thorsteinson said, en route to a show in Melfort, Sask., one of the many stops on the band’s current Canadian tour to promote the new album, Go (the band’s sixth), and its single If I Fall.
“I remember when we had just two singles on radio and we had to go play an hour set,” Thorsteinson said, recalling Doc Walker’s leaner salad days. “So we literally had 50 minutes to fill. Now we have an hour and a half and we’re trying to figure out what songs to cut (from the set list).
“It’s weird how it’s changed, but it’s a good way to put a show together.”
One interesting element on the band’s comprehensive website is a feature encouraging fans to lobby their local country DJs to play the latest single, If I Fall, a marketing ploy of which Thorsteinson appears mighty proud, one which fits hand-in-glove with Doc Walker’s “old-school approach” to music-making and the industry, as a whole.
“I think DJs actually like talking to fans just as much as we like them calling for the song,” Thorsteinson said. “I think the days are gone when DJs could make an artist, but still, DJs and radio people and radio programmers still want to have that connection with country fans, the same as we do.
“In fact, we try to make records that have B-side tracks that we know will never make radio. But it gives good insight into the personality of the band and (they’re) interesting songs, not just fillers.”