Their performance of great prairie tunes left my counterparts and me wondering whether they were mega Christian or super atheist. We learned later on that they were clever fellows with a penchant for ironic lyrics.
“When I am writing a tune I just try to tell a story so if a character in a song is Christian or if they have conflicted beliefs we just try to lay it out,” said lead singer Sheldon Birnie. “You know, country music has always been pretty heavy on the Christian content so it’s kind of fun trying to write those songs considering I’m a pretty hard atheist myself and don’t really believe in a space guy coming down to take my body to a weird land when I die. I mean, I like Jesus, he’s a nice guy. Probably cool, you know.”
Interestingly, Cheering for the Bad Guy notes that they recorded their first album To The Last Drop during the NHL regular season.
“It sort of just happened,” said Birnie. “When it’s summer on the prairies it’s beautiful so you don’t want to be inside. We had a bunch of songs together over the summer and then when fall came around we said, ”˜Let’s fucking start recording them.’ It sort of just worked out that we had hockey on in the background for the whole time. Then when the playoffs came up we were like, ”˜Fuck, let’s wrap this up.’ It worked out really well. Next time we record it will be the same scenario I bet.”
I celebrate Louis Riel Day every year and it’s a better name for a day than Family Day or some bullshit.
The name hearkens to a theme that I believe everyone can relate to: the understanding that people sometimes portrayed as bad are really the people we should be rooting for.
“It’s cheering for the underdog, whatever that may be,” said Birnie. “Especially in the situation of a Western movie or novel where traditionally you have the cowboys versus the Indians and it’s sort of a backwards kind of reality. These cowboys are seen as the good guys but really they’re just decimating the culture. I’d like to cheer for the people that are getting squashed. Manitoba being a province founded by a guy that was hung by Canada, we got statues all over Winnipeg of Louis Riel and I love Louis Riel Day, you know. It’s sort of cheering for the guy who deserves it. I celebrate Louis Riel Day every year and it’s a better name for a day than Family Day or some bullshit.”
It is recommended that you pair your intake of Cheering for the Bad Guy with a large pitcher of beer. Otherwise, get out, you unwashed savages.
“We party all the time,” said Birnie. “We played a show last night and I went to sleep at 7 a.m today. I am staring at piles and piles of empties right now. Generally the first thing we do when we get paid is buy a bunch of beers,” he said. All of a sudden there was an ear-splitting sound in the background, “Oh no, something is on fire back there.”