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A Night With The Rural Alberta Advantage

Listen to the live interview:

[audio:http://dreamlandapparel.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/RAA-Interview.mp3|titles=Rural Alberta Advantage Interview]

The Rural Alberta Advantage opened for the Sam Roberts Band in Peterborough a couple weeks ago, and I got the chance to catch their set and chat with them for a bit about everything RAA.

I’ve been aching to see this trio play live for quite a while, and I finally got my wish. I was not disappointed. Every song was full of the same emotion evident on both albums, perhaps even more so. When asked about the emotion they put into their songs, keyboardist/backup vocalist Amy said it’s essential. “You get really involved when you’re performing, you have to. If you don’t, then why would anyone in the audience care? One time in Halifax, I almost started crying when we played ‘Frank, AB.’ I really try to get there with that song.” Lead singer Nils added, “I’ve always believed that if what you’re writing/playing personally moves you, it will eventually move other people.”

Ironically, on the day they came to Peterborough, the band released a new video (more of a short film) directed by Scott Cudmore for ‘Tornado ’87.’ It’s one of the band’s most personal songs, so Nils discussed what happened and how it affected his songwriting. “Where ever you grow up, you have things that remind you of home. Growing up in Edmonton when the tornado went through, it was just something that doesn’t happen. Tornadoes don’t come through the prairies. With an F4 coming through and killing 27 people, it caught the city off guard and it’s still something people remember.”

In my opinion, the RAA’s writing style reminds me very much of Gord Downie’s solo work on the album Coke Machine Glow. They both seem to take influences and places from their hometowns and writing about them. When I made this connection, the band, especially Nils, looked pleasantly surprised. “Honestly, that’s one of my favourite records of all time. He was drawing from a lot of Northern Ontario memories he had. It wasn’t something I realized until touring up the 400 and seeing the Lofty Pines Motel. Gord, if you’re seeing this, I love that record.”

Here at Dreamland, I try my best to find new artists for you all to listen to, so I asked the band what they were listening to currently. Drummer Paul is loving the new Weeknd album, “It’s just so good. It’s creepy and weird and it’s kind of blowing my mind.” After touring with Hooded Fang, Amy is really digging their new record. “I really like their new sound, it’s different but in a good way.” As for Nils, he is enjoying the new War on Drugs record Slave Ambient.

When I started writing here, co-founder Brian Caicco tried to describe to me what Dreamland is for every individual person. The band played at Coachella this summer, and when I asked Amy about it, it almost sounded like she was describing her Dreamland. “It was everything you would dream it would be. Like your ideal, perfect thing that could ever happen? That’s what it was.”

So what’s next for the Rural Alberta Advantage? With the tour now over, they’re not really sure. “I don’t think any of us really knows what’s going to be happening in the next little while,” Nils claims. Paul added, “For the first time in two and a half years, we’re coming up to a point where we don’t have any shows planned or album date looming, and it’s kind of refreshing. Ask us in January or February where we’re going or what we’re doing, but until then, who knows.”

It’s amazing to see that this band has gone from organizing an open mic night at a local bar that no one came to, to releasing two albums and touring across North America. “For better or worse, they gave us a place to play for almost nobody and get used to doing what we do. What we do right now, doesn’t really stray too far away from what we were doing at that Open Mic. It’s just a little louder, and a lot more people.” They have proven that it is possible for a Canadian trio to fulfill their dreams and make good music. These three individuals are down to earth, and grateful for everything that’s happened to them. The success could not come to a better group of people.

Stay tuned for the next “A Night With…” blog with The Midway State


  • Anonymous

    Fully impressed. Despite the nerves you pulled this off brilliantly. Happy to see you moving forward with your vision, it has been a pleasure to see you build upon your foundation. Keep finding bricks and envisioning the heights you want to reach… and you will. Again, great work, great interview, very proud. 

  • http://twitter.com/ryanhancock9 Ryan Hancock

    Thanks a lot man! Your inspiring words helped me tremendously in the hours leading up to this thing going down haha. I’ve always wanted to do something like this and I’m so glad it’s finally coming to fruition. This night will definitely go down as one of my favourite moments of my life. It made it that much better because of how chill the three of them were. Just a solid group of people.

  • Chris Elliott

    Unbelievable piece, dude. You really put your heart into this one and it showed. I am SO proud that you took the chance to do this, despite your nerves. It had to have been intimidating, but you NAILED the interview and it seemed like they really enjoyed your company! Nice job.

    P.S I am SO sorry it took me so long to get to this. I’ve been sick, busy and just generally distracted lately.

    • http://twitter.com/ryanhancock9 Ryan Hancock

      No worries man, we all get busy sometimes. Thanks for the support once again man, I really enjoyed doing it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ryan-Hancock/510667721 Ryan Hancock

    Man, I still can’t believe I got the chance to do this. Thanks again guys, it was so fun to do.

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