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Leeroy Stagger’s ‘Strange Path’ leads him to a beautiful mess

We spoke with Alberta’s Leeroy Stagger ahead of his show in Vancouver Friday night.

Photo by David Guenther

2019 has been a big year for Leeroy Stagger.  The Alberta musician has released two albums and a 150-page book, all part of his most philosophical works of art to date.  Strange Path is his latest release, and arguably the centerpiece of the works.  It’s a diverse collection of songs, both thematically and stylistically, and Stagger claims “it feels good to sing them.”   He played Vancouver’s Fox Cabaret on Friday, October 18 in support of the album as part of the North American leg of his tour.  He’ll head to Europe early in November to finish things off before the New Year.

Stagger has been writing, playing and producing music for more than 17 years.  Much has changed since his early days as a punk rocker.  He is now married with two children, has been sober for ten years, put out 11 records, one book, and has seen the music industry undergo significant changes.

“Seeing the Rolling Stones at BC Place when I was 14 was kinda the thing that lit the spark for me,” he says of his early musical beginnings.  Eventually, he began making a bit of money out of it and made the decision to pursue music as a career.

Photo by David Guenther

Stagger isn’t a fan of the way the music industry has changed over the years and acknowledges that it’s much harder for musicians who are just starting out. “Production value and songwriting has definitely been watered down,” he says. He worries that this could deter brilliant songwriters from pursuing music as a career.

These days, musicians make most of their money through live shows while streaming services and record labels take home most of the revenues from the released works.

“People want to consume music, but very few people want to pay for it.”  Stagger muses.

In the face of these changes, Stagger may have just released his most intimate album to date with Strange Path.  Written over a two-year period, he and his team considered some 40 songs to be part of the finished album.  They even considered making a double or triple album to accommodate; in the end, choosing the songs that flowed the best.

“A lot of the songs are about breaking the chains of trauma and the work that it takes to get there,he confides.  The accompanying book, also titled Strange Path, is an in-depth look at each of the tracks and examines where the songs came from and who he was collaborating with at the time.

In it he opens up about his tumultuous childhood, what it was like hanging out with Gord Downie, and introduces us to some of the other talented musicians and producers that helped make Strange Path the glorious assortment of songs that it is.

Stagger himself describes it best: “It’s jumbled and a bit messy.  Just like me.  Just the way I like it.”

Check out his latest video below.