The Rural Alberta Advantage: Interview/live show at The Bell House, Brooklyn, 5/29/09
This is a post where I recap a lot of exciting things so prepare yourself accordingly.
The Rural Alberta Advantage is Nils, Paul, and Amy. They self-released a record called Hometowns which was one of my favorites of 2008. Having just signed to Saddle Creek they will be re-releasing that record on July 7th. This is exciting for many reasons, not the least of which is that it makes Hometowns can be on my favorite albums of 2009 list (which it most certainly will).
Before the show the band was gracious enough to sit down with me for a bit and talk about their album, touring, music videos, Subway sandwiches, self-googling, the origin of their name, eMusic, NYC audiences, and a bunch of other fun stuff. They were funny, gracious, open, and generally fantastic. I apologize for my over-use of “like” – I was a bit nervous – but otherwise it is an interesting interview. I learned a lot about the band. Before I get into that I want to talk about their live show. It’s amazing. Go see them. Seriously, I am not gonna freak out on you again like I did with Lykke Li but that’s only because The RAA’s awesomeness was not such a surprise. Look at photos of their live shows here or watch videos here but actually don’t bother because you should just go see them. Oh, but buy Hometowns first! Deal? Good.
Interview and a few other goodies after the jump…
Listen along, or just read the bullet points.
• When are we going to get a music video? They are working on it, going through ideas, waiting for Canadian grant money, and considering “The Deathbridge in Lethbridge,” “Frank, AB,” or “Don’t Haunt This Place.”
• Joining Saddle Creek and the history of RAA getting attention.
• New album on July 7th. No new tracks or material but why mess with perfection, right? But it will be on Vinyl with a NEW master (Nils calls Paul a nerd).
• Praise for eMusic (That’s where TBE found “Hometowns”!!)
• Insanely loud cello playing drives us to another room.
• Their first U.S. show only being in February and how they are “old pros” now.
• NYC audiences defying the “notoriously jaded” reputation.
• Their tradition of short tours will change in August when they head out on their first month-plus tour. Their day jobs are less and less happy with their success/touring.
• Nils’ (and my mom’s) Alberta origins.
• History of the name The Rural Alberta Advantage: Nils’ brother said it in an email and it immediately struck a chord with Nils.
• History of how the band connected in Ontario. An regular open-mic night Amy and Paul were hosting that Nils began frequenting. Nobody would come so Nils and Paul just had to play for hours to fill time. A few different line-up changes later, bam. The RAA.
• Tour music! Most recently: The Antlers, Phoenix, Rush Limbaugh (?), Bruce Springstien, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and The Gaslight Anthem (Paul requests that I not mention that he said they sound like The Killers). Nils is the tour DJ and utilizes his massive (and legally purchsed) music collection to properly sountrack the driving.
• Nils remembers seeing “Four Night Rider” on TBE’s Underrated in ’08. They read everything about themselves online. They threaten to beat us up if we write bad things.
• Canadian pronunciation of the 26th letter, “zed” versue “zee.”
• Apparently they have something called “sub sauce” in Canadian Subway restaurants, and apparently it’s awesome. They miss it in the states. But they love the 5 dollar foot-long selection.
• American misconceptions about Canada are fading. They don’t “know Bob from Toronto” so don’t ask.
• Apparently Nils doesn’t even know where Alberta borders the U.S. It’s OK because neither do I.
• Paul worries about how many times he says “eh?” in the interview. I haven’t found any.
• Paul feels their best live experiences are their small intimate shows.
• Nils recalls stories of people’s favorite settings for listening to RAA. We chat about how music soundtracks our lives.
• Paul feels that RAA music is live music (I agree). They talk about the recording process and their desire to keep it simple and only include things they can play live.
• I geek out about the album and they graciously listen. (Thanks guys!)
• Amazingly there were no songs not included on the album. (basicaly meaning that everything they make is golden.)
• I chastize Phoenix for the filler-esque “Sunset” tracks on Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix and praise them for not pulling that interlude/filler/boring stuff.
• My geeking out continues as I explain my awe that Nils pulled off using “lymph nodes” as a lyric (in “Four Night Rider). Nils is glad it doesn’t come off as “hoakey.”
• Thanks all around as we wrap up and I get pumped for the show!