The Rural Alberta Advantage wrap up their U.S. tour on Oake & Riley in the Morning

The Rural Alberta Advantage perform in The Current studio
The Rural Alberta Advantage perform in The Current studio (Nate Ryan | MPR)
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The Rural Alberta Advantage perform in The Current studio (full session + interview)
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  • The Rural Alberta Advantage perform in The Current studio (full session + interview) 25:02
  • The Rural Alberta Advantage - White Lights (Live on The Current) 03:45
  • The Rural Alberta Advantage - Beacon Hill (Live on The Current) 02:49
  • The Rural Alberta Advantage - Brother (Live on The Current) 04:21

The Rural Alberta Advantage wrapped up a massive tour with a show at First Avenue in Minneapolis, followed by a visit to Oake and Riley in the Morning before jetting back to Toronto. "We always enjoy coming back to Minneapolis," says front man Nils Edenloff. "It was really good. It was probably the best way to kind of end our U.S. tour."

Edenloff, along with bandmates Robin Hatch (keyboards, vocals) and Paul Banwatt (percussion, vocals) joined Brian Oake and Jill Riley in the studio for a fun and friendly conversation, interspersed with tunes from the RAA's latest album, The Wild.

Use the audio player above to listen to the complete session; highlights from the interview are transcribed below.

Interview Highlights

On the band's name, The Rural Alberta Advantage
The pronunciation:
Nils: "We definitely struggle with it, too. It's like when you live in a city too long, you mush up all the syllables."

Paul: "I just give up on that second R; I just say 'Rul' it's the easiest way to go."

Nils: "I had no idea it was so hard to say when we were coming up with the name. I think it pretty much it predated the 30 Rock joke with 'The Rural Juror' and the whole bit."

The origin of the band name:
Nils: "Like states down here, all the provinces have a slogan. So when I was growing up in Alberta, it was a pretty simple one: 'The Alberta Advantage.' I was growing up in Fort McMurray, an oil and gas town. It was like 'oil, jobs, land of opportunity.'

"When we were starting out, I was writing these homesick love songs and looking back on my time there with rose-colored glasses. I was exchanging an email with my brother; my dad grew up on a farm and we still had some property down there, a little shack, cabin-type thing. And my brother was saying, 'Going down to the farm for the weekend, hanging out with some friends, and just exploring the rural Alberta advantage' … Just putting that single word in front of the slogan just completely removed all of the oil and gas and opportunity and just made me think of every beautiful memory that I had growing up there. … It just was kismet, I guess."

On their Twin Cities connection
Nils: "I think with you guys being so close to Canada and northern, there's a camaraderie ... I was just talking to somebody after [the show], who was like, 'Your music is just so humble, I love that, and it really relates to me because that's how we are in Minnesota'."

Keyboardist Robin Hatch on joining the band
Robin: "I got the call I guess about a year and a half ago; I was playing before that with a rock band called Our Lady Peace who are from Canada and I think had some success in the States as well. [The RAA] were looking for a new keyboard player, and yeah, it just happened to work out that I had some free time in my schedule, and I got to co-write the album with the guys. That's sort of how it worked out. I've known them through the Toronto music scene for a while, so they knew who to call when they were looking for somebody."

On the origin of the song "Beacon Hill," named for a residential area of Fort McMurray, Alberta
Nils: "About a year and a half ago, as we were starting to dip our toe into the water with writing, there was a forest fire that happened [in Fort McMurray, Alberta]. It was really kind of out of nowhere. They had a warm, dry spring, but nobody expected it was going to happen … there was an alert on my phone that the entire city was being evacuated. When the cards were down and there was a real good chance [the city] might disappear, it affects you."

On the legacy of the late Gord Downie and of the Tragically Hip
Nils: "The Hip are heroes in Canada. They are always going to have that place and standing. We had a chance to play with them a couple times, and I can say they are the sweetest people. Gord is the salt of the earth and just the greatest guy. They were incredibly good about being good to bands that were opening for them. … I remember we did a couple shows opening for [The Sam Roberts Band], and they were just super nice to us, and we were like, 'Wow, thanks, guys, this is really great' and they were like, 'The Hip showed us how to do this; this is how you be a headliner, you're good to everyone.' [The Hip] raised the bar high on how to do it well and be a class act, and I think everyone who was touched by them wants to follow their lead and hopefully pass down that sage wisdom, because it's a hard life on the road sometimes and it sucks when you don't have a friendly face there or someone's bumming you out. You've got to keep your spirits high sometimes."

Songs Performed


"White Lights"
"Beacon Hill"
"Brother"
All songs from the Rural Alberta Advantage's 2017 album, The Wild, distributed in the U.S. on Saddle Creek records.

Hosted by Brian Oake and Jill Riley
Produced by Anna Reed
Engineered by Corey Schreppel
Visuals by Nate Ryan
Web feature by Luke Taylor

Resources


The Rural Alberta Advantage - official site

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5 Photos

  • The Rural Alberta Advantage perform in The Current studio
    The Rural Alberta Advantage perform in The Current studio (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • The Rural Alberta Advantage perform in The Current studio
    Robin Hatch and Nils Edenloff of The Rural Alberta Advantage perform in The Current studio (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • The Rural Alberta Advantage perform in The Current studio
    Paul Banwatt of The Rural Alberta Advantage performs in The Current studio (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • The Rural Alberta Advantage perform in The Current studio
    Robin Hatch of The Rural Alberta Advantage performs in The Current studio (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • The Rural Alberta Advantage perform in The Current studio
    Nils Edenloff and Paul Banwatt of The Rural Alberta Advantage perform in The Current studio (Nate Ryan | MPR)

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