If you haven’t heard of The Rural Alberta Advantage, you’ve gots to. Hotter than the scorching Toronto weather, they are setting the Canadian indie music scene ablaze. The perfect balance of driving drums and soulful lyrics, the RAA can get you dancing and swaying. After breaking out with their impressive debut “Hometowns” in 2009, they were featured in SPIN, SXSW, sold-out multiple shows in Toronto, recently shared the stage with The Tragically Hip AND are appearing on the MuchMusic & CW series The L.A. Complex! The Rural Alberta Advantage have been keepin’ busy. So, when I got the chance to catch-up with singer/guitarist Nils Edenloff, I let out an audible mini-cheer.
Question: ‘Hometowns’ was one of my favourite albums of 2009 and was very happy with latest, ‘Departing’. Stamp and North Star are fantastic. Tell us a bit about the inspiration for these tracks and the latest album.
Nils: Oddly enough Stamp and North Star come from a similar place and the initial writing of both these songs goes back a while. I guess I was dealing with the realization that some relationships aren’t quite strong enough to withstand both time and distance, and as a result both these songs were inspired by relationships that didn’t quite have a chance to run its full course, and as most people would I was left dwelling on what might have been.
Q: In the past few years, The Rural Alberta Advantage has really made an impact in Canadian music with Juno and Polaris Prize nominated albums! Plus, you guys just wrapped up an amazing performance with Gord Downie of The Tragically Hip and opened with Death Cab for Cutie. If you could choose to tour with ANY band, who would it be?
N: I never would have thought this time last year we’d be able to say that we’ve shared a billed with The Tragically Hip so you never really know what the future holds. I feel like we’ve lucky to play with bands that have inspired us, as well as bands that we’re good friends with. As the end of the day there is something special about touring with bands that you’re friends, which is why we’re really excited to be going across Canada with Dan Mangan this fall.
N: The L.A. Complex was definitely something outside of our wheelhouse, but it was a lot of fun being a part of. Martin Gero and Brendan Gall have been friends of our for several years and when they approached us about being part of the Second Season we were totally thrilled to be a part of it. While it may seem like an unconventional move for us to take part in something like this I always saw it was a chance for us to do something fun with friends who we also happen to be fans of.
Q: The Rural Alberta Advantage has such a distinct sound- both in the vocals and instrumentation. It’s unique and recognizable, but tell us about your musical influences.
N: I don’t want to put speak for Paul and Amy here but I think Paul’s back ground listening to hip hop and more percussive music has really helped to set us apart, that and the fact that we’ve stayed true to our absence of a traditional bass player. While we did get a lot of flack initially about not having a bass player, I really believe that the absence of a rhythmic bass line has allowed Paul service the songs in a way that wouldn’t be possible otherwise.
I definitely remember talking with Paul, when we were first starting out, about listening to OK Computer for the first time and realizing that the drums can be just as much of a hook as a melodic vocal line. Another good example of that would be something like The National, where the drums are so key to the song I have trouble seeing the songs as being able to be written without the drummer from the early stages of the song writing process.
My musical tastes are pretty wide an varied but at the end of the day I’m just a guy with an acoustic and most of the music that has inspired me deeply has been music with a strong melody and written from a personal intimate place. Be it Leonard Cohen, Neil Young, Gordon Lightfoot, Hayden, Gord Downie, Neutral Milk Hotel, I think its hard to ignore the impact that some of these artists have had on the music that I’m making now and in the future.
Q: With the busy schedule of performing and now acting ;), what can we expect from The Rural Alberta Advantage next?
N: Well, we’re in the early stages of writing right now so we’ll just be following that path for the next little while to see where the road takes us.
Q: Readers of urbanebloc are always on the lookout for new songs. What are the top 5 songs from your collective ipods?
N: These are just a couple off my iPod at random:
1. Dusted – Centuries of Sleep
2. The Wooden Sky – Your Fight Will Not Be Long
3. Chromatics – Into the Black
4. PS I Love You – First Contact
5. Sharon Van Etten – Leonard
Thank you so much for the interview Nils and a huge shout-out to The Rural Alberta Advantage! If you’re like me and cannot get enough of RAA don’t forget to watch them on The L.A. Complex every Tuesday night at 9/8c on MuchMusic and The CW. Oh and of course, Like them on FB, Follow them on Twitter, and check-em out on Soundcloud!