Andrew James O’Brien and Catherine Allan are your atypical couple of Canadians. Humble, grateful and just happy to be doing what they are doing. Guess you have to keep up the act if you are called Fortunate Ones and call your debut album The Bliss. So much positivity all around. You can’t help but wonder about the last tantrum either threw? “Probably whether to eat at Subway or Pita Pit”, laughs Allan, who shares singing duties with Andrew along with playing keys/ accordion.
I had a chance to catch up with the endearing twosome before their SOLD OUT show at The Dakota. Chatted about road trip playlists, tour highlights and celebrity crushes.
JT brought SexyBack. Catherine, are you bringing accordion back?
C: Yes. Let the world know! Its crazy. I play accordion, but I am not an accordion player, you know what I mean. Where I come from, there are so many virtuosos on the accordion. So, I am gonna say in Newfoundland, accordion has always been there and I am just a player.
Your debut album The Bliss is out now. The title track is # 1 on CBC Radio2 w/ Tom Power. Ron MacLean gave the album a glowing review on Hockey Night in Canada. What’s next on this climb to success?
A: For us, the long-term goal is to make a living at this. We don’t have crazy lofty goals. Play great shows to as many people as we can. Get the album to as many ears as we can. It won’t feel bad if we got an ECMA or Juno nomination someday. Those are things that are icing on the cake.
You have been on this tour for a month or so. How has the crowd responded to the songs? Any highlights?
A: For me, the highlight of the tour, somewhat obviously I guess, was our hometown show in St. John. We sold out Holy Heart Theatre, which was definitely a milestone for us. We also had an amazing night at The Blacksheep in Wakefield. It was our first time selling that place out, and the vibe in there was just amazing. It felt like we were playing to a sold out crowd of our family.
You must have driven through some extreme conditions given its February and its Canada! Was there a moment when you are like ‘What are we doing?!’
A: There was one day. We played in Moncton and next night we were in Miramichi. We got on the road, and there was a full on winter storm warning. They were advising people on every radio station not to go on the highways at all. It was a 140 km drive. It took us 3 and half hours. It was a complete white out. We couldn’t even see the tracks in the road. We were using the GPS to literally tell us if we had to turn left or right. It was insane.
C: It was funny because Andrew, instead of like being you know, what are we doing. He was actually laughing, which was semi-frightening
That kind of hindsight only comes 10 years after. Not during the moment right?
C: That’s exactly it. He was like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is our tour. What are we doing? This is awesome!’
A: It was hysterical in that it was pretty reckless. Although we were only doing 40 km an hour, it felt completely treacherous. We knew we had worried family at home. But we made it. It took us more than 3 hours to drive 140 km, but we made it!
If folks took a look at your Facebook page, they would see you keep it light on the road with sing alongs! What’s been on the playlist for this road trip?
A: ‘No Sugar Tonight’ by Guess Who is a good sing along. Jason Collett’s record Rat a Tat a Tat. That’s also constantly in the car. Jenn Grant’s record Compostela. I think that’s the best album I have heard ever. I am not just saying that because Dan Ledwell produced our record and hers. It is truly incredible and a masterpiece.
How about something cheesy like Backstreet Boys?
A: Montell Jordan’s ‘This is How we Do It’
C: You know what I also recently discovered? Carly Rae’s new song.
A: I really really really really like you.
When I saw you play last time, which was at Winnipeg Folk Fest, you did a Tom Waits cover. Are you going to a Carly Rae cover?
C: I don’t know if I know the words well enough.
There aren’t that many words in that song or any of her songs.
C: You are right!
A: They are gems though!
If there was a Fortunate Ones movie, who plays you?
C: Because people say I look like her and because I love her, Sarah Silverman will play me. I am not as nearly as funny as her, but I adore her.
And who would play Andrew?
C: You know who I am going to say? I am gonna say Jack Black.
A: I would have said Richard Karn, who was Al on Home Improvement. I am a modest guy. I wasn’t gonna say Liam Neeson.
Do you own enough plaid to be Al?
A: I rocked a lot of plaid few years ago. Cat’s not a big fan. I love it personally. She is not a big fan of it on me. Loves it on everyone else.
Who plays Catherine?
A: Zoey Deschanel.
Because of the bangs?
C: And because she is your celebrity crush!
Who is your celebrity crush Catherine? Jack Black? I hope not!
This is going to be so weird. But it’s Orlando Bloom in LOTR with the elf ears.
Really? Not Orlando Bloom in Pirates of Caribbean?
Oh, yea that’s good too! [both laughs].