Corb Lund is not enjoying this interview. The lanky Juno-winning musician, known for his playful lyrical takes on rural life on the Prairies, is calling while on his way home to southern Alberta after a stint in studio in Edmonton working on some new music.
But he hasn’t phoned to talk about his latest project, or even the one before it, an album released to critical acclaim in the middle of a pandemic.
Instead, he’s stolen time from his primary gig to talk about a side project that has recently rebranded him as an emerging, albeit reluctant, advocate: stopping a controversial plan to open up the Rocky Mountains to coal mining.
“I would rather be playing music, frankly,” says Lund, sounding exasperated. “I blame the government. I don’t even blame the coal companies, because coal companies are going to coal-company, right? That’s what they do. It’s the government allowing them to do it.”
Last spring, the Alberta government set off a firestorm with the quiet removal of a 44-year-old policy preventing most open pit coal mining in the iconic mountain range. At a time when pandemic polarization seems to have split Albertans into warring camps on just about everything, coal mining might be one of the few areas of common ground.