I had the chance to sit down with the guys from Scenic Route To Alaska in a cozy little coffee shop on the edge of Vancouver’s Chinatown last week before they played the Cobalt. Here’s how our chat went.
Social Media, how has it helped you guys build as a band?
Trevor: Well, it’s always been one of our weaker points, the whole business side of things came about by accident, we’ve all just played music together for a long time, probably since we were about twelve years old, we’ve been in various bands, it was something we were never really thinking about because we were just doing it for fun and we weren’t trying to make a business out of it, or even consciously trying to grow a fan base. But in the last couple of years it’s become a huge way, one of the only ways to promote yourself in other cities through Facebook advertising, Instagram is great for the bands because people want to see what your doing instead of just hearing about it all the time. We try to be as good about it as possible, we probably could post more.
Murray: I’d have to say our Twitter game is pretty weak, but our Instagram is getting better! It’s cool for us though with everything getting documented this way, every once in a while we’ll scroll back through through our pictures and it’s cool to see the bands growth and these crazy adventures that we’ve done. It has been difficult at times though especially when we were starting out because there was new social media platforms popping up like crazy that everybody would start using, then they’d die out and something else comes along. Just managing the user names and passwords for what seemed like fifty things at the time was getting a bit ridiculous so we decided to trim the fat and just go with the three most common for our fan base, Twitter Facebook and Instagram.
How does an indie band from Edmonton end up playing in Europe so much?
Murray: Well it kind of started in Winnipeg, we went to the Breakout West conference and met this guy named Marco Noni who had lived in Germany his whole life and just made the move to Canada. He was starting a business here booking canadian bands in Germany and around Europe and he came to our showcase and liked our show. We kind of forced our first German tour, we decided this is what we want to do and we’re going to make it happen, it actually went really really well and Marco got more excited about it and now he’s actually our manager. He helped get us some labels in Europe for this latest album and now we’re headed back for our fourth time over there and we’ve already got plans to head back again in the fall. Then we’re planning on going to Australia for music week, even though we haven’t been to the states yet…laughter ensues. Germany seems to love Canadian indie bands, I think Canada does really have a lot of great music and a lot of amazing bands! Germany as a country supports venues and supports importing music so we can actually make a little bit of money while we’re there and Canada supports exporting music so we get support at home too, it’s nice because we don’t need visa’s unless we want to tour Germany for over three months. The last three times over we’ve had a tour manager, this time we’re by ourselves so it’s going to be interesting. A lot of people over there speak our language and that makes things a lot easier, I kind of feel bad we can’t return the favour.
When you’re playing over there is it party time after the show with the other bands or straight back to the hotel room and thinking about the next gig?
Trevor: It depends on the tour or the night I guess, this time around we’ve got fourteen shows in sixteen days so it’s going to be really fast paced and there’ll probably be a couple nights where we need to, just for our own sakes go back to the hotel, but I feel like there’s always the option to party and stay out all night and we’ve done that more than a couple of times and usually it’s hard to say no because people are usually just so gung-ho!
Shea: You know its kind of like on a Monday or Tuesday night a couple of hundred people show up, and they don’t just go home,they continue to party, and they want to party with you, and you’re like, it’s Monday night guys, what do you guys do tomorrow?
Trevor: We met a doctor once that came to our show and he told us he’d just worked twenty four hours straight and he hadn’t slept yet, but he would’ve just felt so guilty if he didn’t come and see our show, and I was like, man that’s dedication. In general over there people really seem to appreciate the live music and the experience of getting to meet a Canadian band.
Murray: Sometimes we’re the first Canadians they’ve ever met and it’s like whoa, we’re representing the Country and we’ve got to do this right, and it’s kind of special for them and special for us at the same time.
Lyrically and musically, where do you guys find your inspiration for writing?
Trevor: I definitely have the easiest time writing about more difficult situations, wether it be heartbreak or the loss of a loved one, or bouts of depression even, that’s when I find I get creatively more prolific and can write a lot more. I have a hard time, I haven’t really been able to write any straight up love songs, but I definitely derive a lot of influence from the Beatles, I feel like they did a great job of going through all the different emotions and writing songs about them. Listening to songwriters like John Pratt I’ve been learning to trim the fat on my lyrics now and just try to say what needs to be said, get rid of all the jumble in between and make sure we get the point across. Sometimes I’ll have a half an idea in my head or none at all and we’ll go jam in the basement and that will strike inspiration because someone plays something that makes you think a different way and you come up with things that have no rime or reason, I also like to keep it an open discussion with my head and my heart I guess.
Murray: Sometimes I think it really helps that we grew up together, I’ve know Trev since I was five years old or something and I’ve known Shea since I was ten, so as soon as we started playing music we were doing it together. We had blues, r&b, classic rock cover band when we were growing up, then actually the three of us got hired to be a lot of people’s backing bands and still kind of play around the Edmonton area. I think arranging songs and trying to figure out what works, and producing ourselves really helped us a lot to make these songs work and now on our latest record we actually have a producer so we bring the songs as close as we think we can get them and then we have this other really experienced guy helping us out which I think has really helped us bring our songs to the next level.
Have you guys had any big surprises along the way?
Shea: Well from the start, I think like Trevor was saying earlier, we never really expected to turn this into a business and start touring around the world because that was far from why we were playing music, it was always just about hanging out and jamming. It feels like it’s been such a natural progression up to this point though that were almost a bit numb to the whole thing, when you take a step back it’s like wow we’re headed off to tour Germany or we’re playing all across Canada or we have a record that has any radio play, it all is really awesome but I never expected it.
Trevor: It’s all been a big surprise I guess and every little accomplishment along the way is something we didn’t expect.
Murray: We’ve always had goals and we’d say ok I guess we’re going to make the next record now and that would become the plan. It’s kind of like the Europe thing, we got it in our heads and then we kind of forced it to happen. Next is Australia and I think it’s going to be the same way, we’ve got the idea in our heads and we’re going to find a way to make it happen. We make it sound like we don’t work, but we do really work hard for this stuff, but there is some intention behind it, at the same time we’re really go with the flow, and if something’s not working, we’re not really the ones that will be trying to jam a square peg in a round hole, we try to do what comes naturally, and we try to make our team(publicist,agents,etc) up of similar kinds of people and I think that it’s worked for us, the vibe we have around the band is really good now.
Trevor: I think we’ve been kind of unknowingly patient and it’s paid off, we’ve held our cards close to our chests and not really started work with people we don’t know, because we’re just three best buds who don’t want to wreck this by letting the wrong hands get involved, we want to have fun and we want to make good music and we have to keep that as our core value, not money or fame, maybe both of those things will eventually come along if we hold true to our ourselves, and if not we’ve already done a lot of really cool stuff along the way.
Last question, who is your favourite Canadian band?
Trevor: The Band
Shea: The Band is The Band, and We love The Band, but I think right now it’s Wintersleep. No I’m gonna change that, Sam Roberts.
Murray: We actually get to open up for Sam Roberts at K Days so we’re pretty stoked about that! Tokyo Police Club have always been one of my favourites and we get to play with them coming up too, we’re starting to get to play with more of our heroes. We’re very thankful for all the amazing Canadian talent out there!
Scenic Route To Alaska is:
Trevor Mann – Lead Vocals, Lead Guitar
Murray Wood – Bass Guitar
Shea Connor – Drums