Michael Buckner | Frazer Harrison, Getty Images Now this is a collaboration that…
- Posted on Mar 11th 2010 1:56PM by Jason MacNeil
Following SXSW 2010, the band will mount a two-week European tour in May before starting work on the next album. Spinner talked with Nils Edenloff about open-mic nights, Tragically Hip's Gord Downie and the importance of structure.
Describe your sound in your own words.
It runs the gamut from different influences. We come from different places musically. I heard the term rustic pop, folk punk, I'm not sure which one I'm super-pumped about. I guess we're a ramshackle indie rock group. You think it would get easier but at the end of the day it's better we have trouble describing our sound.
How did the band form?
Basically it started from an open-mic night here in Toronto. Paul and I were hosting the open-mic night and it was probably one of the most depressing open-mic nights we had ever seen, like no one would come out to it. So as a result of that we had to get a bunch of material together. That's kind of where, in essence, we developed our sound in a way because we had to come up with hours of material for these open-mic nights. He was playing drums, I was playing guitar and that's pretty much how the band formed. We had a couple of different lineups but Paul and I were the core members. Once we incorporated Amy into the group, everything clicked.
Who are some of your musical influences?
I've always been drawn to the singer-songwriter where melody is the key. I'd be lying to say Neutral Milk Hotel hasn't been an influence. But guys like Leonard Cohen ... Gord Downie's solo stuff is so beautiful in my mind, his first album 'Coke Machine Glow' is so great and has a big influence on me. That's sort of where I come from, the melody-based thing. Our songs don't stray too far from that although we go about it in different ways. At the end of the day the songs can be stripped down on an acoustic guitar and played at an open-mic night.
How did you decide on the band name?
It came from an email my brother sent after I moved out to Toronto. Back in Alberta there used to be a provincial slogan called the Alberta advantage -- it was basically promoting Alberta and how it's the land of opportunity with oil and gas and has a lot of jobs out there. So I grew up with this memory of the slogan. I grew up in Fort McMurray, so the ideas of oil and gas were engrained in my mind. So I sent him an email and asked him what he was doing for the weekend. He said he was going out to our farm with some friends to explore the rural Alberta advantage. It was funny, by him putting that word in front of that phrase it changed everything and brought back memories I had growing up. That was around the time the band was forming and I was writing these songs about Alberta in one way or another. It seemed to go hand in hand, it's a loving tribute to where I grew up and the songs are as well.
What's in your festival survival kit?
Sunscreen -- I'm very fair, I'm a Northern Alberta boy.
Are you looking forward to SXSW?
We're super-pumped for it. Last year was probably one of the best experiences we ever had. You hear about bands going down and nothing happens, they don't even register on the map. We met Saddle Creek down there and got a ton of press. Basically it was a launching pad to everything that happened last year. It was pretty amazing. It's going to be nice to go down again and play at all these parties without the huge weight there was before. We played in the States a bunch over the last year. We felt like small fish in a big pond -- not that we still don't feel that way -- but we feel a little bit more comfortable in it.
What would you say is your biggest vice?
Structure. I think I need structure at so many points. I'm sort of trying to enforce structure on a life of touring which is hard. I went to school for engineering so that part of my brain is fighting the creative, cool, free-going side.
The Beatles or the Rolling Stones?
I'm going to have to say the Beatles. I was just listening to them. I had my iTunes on shuffle and they just came up, so I'm going to have to go with them. I have more Beatles than Stones in my collection.
What's the craziest thing you've experienced on tour?
There have been enough near misses in terms of touring and driving that I just like to block those out. When we went across Canada in February and out to the Olympics we realized how dangerous it can be with the amount of touring a band has to do. Touring can be really fun but it can also be very scary. Those road warrior moments are pretty crazy and I would rather block them out.