Legendary rock icon, Carole Pope, has been very busy over the past few years working on a passion project that will bring the story of her brother Howard, also a musician, as well her legendary Canadian band Rough Trade to the musical stage. She’s currently promoting a new round of funding that will move the production forward and closer to staging. Two years ago I spoke with Carole about another project, the single “World’s a Bitch” an impressive collaboration with Church of Trees, Rob Preuss & Jordon Zadorozny, that was released mid-Covid crisis and which received worldwide airplay and streaming. She hinted at the new musical and now I’ve managed to reach out to her online for an update and a quick chat about “Rough Trade: The Art of Rock” ….Carole, this project has been brewing for many years and is based largely on the life of your brother, Howard, a New York-based musician who died of AIDS in 1996. As an activist and longtime icon of the LGTBQ+ community, why is this story so important in 2023?   This story is still relevant because HIV AIDS is still an issue. People need to have their stories told to help them heal. We just went through the COVID pandemic which triggered a lot of people who went through the AIDs pandemic.

Rough Trade is such a ground-breaking band in Canadian music history and is still gathering new fans. Do you think this theatrical project will inspire and encourage a younger generation to not only embrace the original philosophies of your music but also remind them that AIDS has not disappeared, and we are all still vulnerable?   Rough Trade’s music is as relevant today as it was in the eighties. It will speak to a whole new audience. Many of the issues I wrote about in the eighties are still being dealt with:  censorship, sexuality, corrupt government, and freedom of expression. HIV/AIDS is a pandemic we’re still dealing with. Over the past few years, you’ve workshopped and refined the material, and performed live concerts featuring the music that will become the soundtrack – will you continue to hold workshops after this round of funding? And do you already have musicians/actors attached to the project?   We are looking for funding for two more workshops, one in New York this fall and another in Canada. We have several people attached. Chilina Kennedy is playing me, Robert McQueen is directing, and Debra Barsha is the music director.

If funding is generated to complete Rough Trade: The Art of Rock musical, when would you like to present the first show and where? Hopefully here in Toronto.   We’ll present the first show wherever a theatre and producer(s) commit to making it happen.

If you would like to contribute to the production, please log onto:

You can also follow Carole and the project at:
IG: @carole_pope
Twtr: @carolepope