The Fugitives turn Russian controversy into inspiration

WILLIAM LOUISON

Adrian Glynn and Brendan McCleod of the Fugitives.

Adrian Glynn and Brendan McCleod of the Fugitives.

Canadian folk band The Fugitives have been receiving a lot of praise for their inspiring song “New Year’s in Sochi,” released as part of their Light Organs Christmas EP. Although it’s not really a Christmas song, Vancouver’s Adrian Glynn — who leads the band with Saskatoon’s Brendan McCleod — said having “Sochi” on their Christmas album was a great chance to share in something meaningful.

The song was penned by Glynn and McCleod, taking inspiration from Dmitry Isakov, one of the first gay rights protesters to be convicted under Russia’s controversial gay propaganda laws.

Isakov “went to a square to protest and he held up a sign that said, ‘Being gay is normal. Beating gays and killing gays is criminal.’ The cops came and beat him up and put him in jail and the next day he got out of jail and he went back to the exact same place, in the same square with the exact same sign and he held it up again,” said Glynn.

It was Isakov’s bravery and the uplifting nature of his story that inspired The Fugitives to write “New Year’s in Sochi.”

“I think with this song we wanted to present this story which is actually — even though a terrible thing — really inspiring,” said Glynn.

Glynn and McCleod wanted to give the song a positive and uplifting feeling demonstrated through lyrics like, “We’ll all go to heaven at the end of the day/We’ll all go to heaven either way.”

The Fugitives are currently touring the prairies with Canadian icon Buffy Sainte-Marie. The tour kicked off on Feb. 28 and will make a stop in Saskatoon on March 10. Future tour dates have been planned to take their music internationally to Germany and the United Kingdom this summer as well.

Glynn describes the opportunity to play with Buffy Sainte-Marie as a privilege, recalling the first time he saw Sainte-Marie play live a few years ago.

“We played a folk festival called Mariposa about four years ago and she was one of the headline acts. I’d never seen her before,” Glynn said.

Glynn’s mom had been a big fan of Sainte-Marie, so Glynn is no stranger to her music but was blown away by her live performance.

“I wasn’t expecting her to be that energetic of a performer,” Glynn said. “She was a powerhouse.”

The Fugitives received an offer to tour with Sainte-Marie as her opening act and they jumped on the opportunity.

“She’s not phoning it in,” Glynn said. “She’s still making amazing performances happen. So it’s a total honour.”

The band plans to highlight their newest album Everything Will Happen while on tour, which has been a different dynamic for them.

“The Fugitives have had a lot of personnel changes over the years,” Glynn said. “We’re used to having about four songwriters.”

Everything Will Happen was the first time that Glynn and McCleod did all the songwriting themselves.

“We always have trouble classifying what we do,” Glynn said. “You can expect to see a dynamic, energetic folk show with a lot of messing around. We don’t take ourselves too seriously.”

The Fugitives will be opening for Buffy Sainte-Marie at the Broadway Theatre on March 10. Tickets are available at broadwaytheatre.ca


Photo: Supplied