The Departed's Cody Canada: Cross Canadian Ragweed "Is Over"
For nearly two decades, Cody Canada has been a driving force in the musical sound blowing out of Oklahoma, like the dust bowls before it, known as Red Dirt music -- a raw combination of southern jazzy blues, folk, country, and rock 'n' roll.
For the first 16 years of his career, Canada spread his homegrown musical styling out of Stillwater with the band Cross Canadian Ragweed. Now, with that behind him, he's fronting his newest act, The Departed, alongside fellow Ragweed member Jeremy Plato and longtime friends Seth James, Steve Littleton, and Chris Doege.
The Departed are scheduled to perform Friday, May 17, at Martini Ranch in Scottsdale.
The Departed is also coated in the Red Dirt sound, which has had a lifelong influence on every band member, but Canada has matured musically in the past three years and The Departed allows him to showcase it perfectly. Their tunes are a little bit tighter, they rock a little bit harder, and their soulful sound is a little bit deeper. Which raises the question: Have we only seen the beginning of what Cody Canada has to offer?
Before they arrive in Scottsdale this Friday, we had a chance to chat with Canada about The Departed and his past, present, and future.
Would you explain the term Red Dirt to anyone who is not familiar with it?
When we started writing, that term wasn't even around. It was underground. Now every station in Texas and Oklahoma says red dirt. There's Texas music and there's the Oklahoma scene, and Red Dirt really is just the term for the Oklahoma movement of music.
It's everywhere from folk to rock. It's just better than saying Oklahoma music. [laughs] It made it classier. There's a big difference in Texas and Oklahoma music; I've always thought that the lyrics were always first with the Oklahoma scene. I felt like the most important thing to the people from Oklahoma was writing the lyrics first and making the lyrics really count and dissecting a song.
Somebody said, "What do you call this music?" and somebody else said, "Well, it's as honest as the dirt is red in Oklahoma." Then it just took on its own life after that.
Is The Departed working on any new music or projects?
We're working on new music all the time. We're always writing stuff. Right now, we're still riding this last record, but hopefully before fall, we'll be at least starting to talk about the chance of getting back in the studio.
I heard the recording process on the album Adventus came together very easily for The Departed. Is that still the case for the new stuff you're working on?
Yeah, it's pretty easy. It's because we know what we're doing with it, and you can really do whatever you want to do with it when it's yours. [We know] who has what lead and who's going to sing the song. It's really a very natural band.
I bet that makes things a lot easier for everybody.
So explain the dynamic of all the members of The Departed. Do you all interact with each other well?
Well, the thing is, we've known each other forever. Jeremy [Plato; bass/vocals] and I went to grade school together, and all through high school, and [he] and I were in Ragweed for sixteen years. I've known Seth [James; guitar/vocals] since I was a little kid because our parents grew up around each other in North Texas. Steve Littleton on keys was one of the first musicians I met almost twenty years ago when I first went to Stillwater to start chasing music. I think it was just a matter of time before we all got together.
Tell me about The Departed's first studio project, This is Indian Land [a compilation album of Red Dirt cover songs]. Why did you choose that to be your first priority with The Departed?
It was the first priority because it was unfinished business for me.