If Bryan Adams could have aligned the stars his new album 11, featuring 11 songs and the eleventh studio effort of his career, would've come out last year.
And it's a safe bet, given the numerical theme, it probably would've hit stores in November, say Nov. 11.
But even a megastar such as the 48-year-old Adams, with his millions of record sales and global recognition, still has to play the label-waiting game. It's something he wasn't exactly happy with.
"It was ready in August and it was basically done in September," Adams says while nursing a tea inside a Toronto hotel room in late February. "The record company in Europe didn't want it to come out until March so we had to sit on it. You can imagine my frustration."
The album, out Tuesday, was originally going to be an acoustic record. But Adams hadn't committed to the idea entirely even while writing 11. The idea became less of a reality when touring through Europe.
"I was on tour and I think there was an acoustic artist opening up this festival that we were doing," Adams says. "I was watching them play and I thought to myself, 'I can't imagine myself doing that.' "
What fans can imagine Adams doing is part and parcel of the new record, namely offering a batch of radio-friendly ballads such as the U2-ish We Found What We Were Looking For, Mysterious Ways and Broken Wings. The album, featuring Kathleen Edwards' hubby/guitarist Colin Cripps, is also notable for the rootsy I Ain't Losing The Fight, which Adams wrote in Bulgaria.
Adams also revisited the topic of celebrity with Flower Grown Wild, a song based on Shannon Wilsey a.k.a. Savannah, a former stripper and girlfriend of Slash who killed herself. Earlier in his career, Adams and writing cohort Jim Vallance penned The Best Was Yet to Come. The song was inspired by the 1980 murder of Playboy Playmate Dorothy Stratten.
"To me, it's sort of an ode to the fallen star and a little bit of a nod to the way we devour our celebrities and then spit them out," he says of Flower Grown Wild.
"We devour them because we love them, but then we spit them out. It was that idea of one woman's journey to stardom and then the way she can't deal with it."
In terms of his songwriting, Adams had about 30 songs for 11 with the best rising to the top. He also says he's not one to start with a completely clean slate heading into each album.
"What usually happens is I'll take the 15 unreleased songs and when it comes time for the next album, I'll take one of those and rewrite it or take a piece of one and combine it with another," he says. "That's what started happening on (1991's) Waking Up the Neighbours and I've worked that way ever since. You take one section, the section that seems to write the best and then rewrite or work to that. It's about not being precious."
This year also marks the 30th anniversary of Adams signing to A&M Records in Toronto that launched his solo career. He feels it was tougher to break into the music business then as opposed to new bands trying to get noticed now.
"When I started it was ultra-hard," he says. "In some ways it's kind of easier today because there are more avenues to create some sort of image for yourself. Back in 1979, you were stuck with an 8x10 photograph and a demo tape on a cassette and prayed that the cassette didn't sound like sh--t. Otherwise, that was the end of your hope.
"And there's a lot of knocking on doors. It's very difficult to get to know the guy who knows the guy who knows the guy. So if you're no one, like when I started out, no one, how do you get through these systems?"
In keeping with the album title, Adams spent March doing an 11-day, 11-city European tour of 11 acoustic shows. He's hoping to do the same thing in North America but the lone Canadian date is a "secret show" in Vancouver on March 20. He's already thinking about album 12 and threatening it might be "the acoustic record."
Just don't expect him to spend five or six straight months on the road anymore.
"I'm not going to change my lifestyle just because an album comes out," Adams says. "I'm going to work (just) as hard, like I always do which is I spend this amount of time (10 days) a month allocated to touring and the rest I spend doing other things."
Adams Fast Facts
Born: Nov. 5, 1959 in Kingston, Ont.
Charity appearances: He's one of only two Canadian artists (Neil Young is the other one) to perform at 1985's Live Aid and 2005's Live 8 concerts.
Favourite team: Fan of English soccer club Chelsea and dedicated song We're Gonna Win to the team.
Writing credits: Along with writing partner Jim Vallance, had songs recorded by Joe Cocker, The Payolas, Neil Diamond, Juice Newton and Uriah Heep.
Duet: Appears on Sarah McLachlan's upcoming Rarities, B-Sides And Other Stuff, Volume 2 album, performing on the song Don't Let Go.
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MTS Centre, Winnipeg - May 26, 2008