Fired up about taking his newly-minted tunes to audiences across the continent, singer/guitarist Greg Rekus makes a City stop at The Vat on Sept. 25.
Rekus is heading into a North American tour after having wrapped up several gigs in Europe. “I can’t wait to go back – I’m already thinking of spring next year.”
For Rekus, a love for music was honed early on – even though he had to take piano lessons at first while really wanting to play guitar. His folks never did buy him one, and he had to wait until he was a teen and could save up enough money to purchase one on his own.
“I have memories of playing along with Green Day with a tennis racket and a shoelace strung around me, pretending that was my guitar. And it was around my teen years that I really got into music. I had a walkman on 24/7.”
He recalls being very inspired by the 1990s punk scene. And although at first he didn’t envision a career in music, he started hooking up with various bands around Winnipeg and was struck by the realization that there are opportunities galore to carve one’s own path in the music world. He’s never looked back since.
“It wasn’t until I was 20 that I had a pretty serious project which was called High Five Drive,” he explains of his early experiences with making music. That band lasted about a decade with several tours both in Canada and in Europe and three CDs to their credit.
“It was a great time and I fell in love with touring.”
After the demise of the band, he ventured out on his own and decided to incorporate a stomp box into his live shows. “It’s kind of half of the act. And it gives you that edge – I’m still a solo guy, but I’m making quite a racket. I can be on the same bill as other bands and not feel like the odd man out.”
Expectations of more performances, bigger audiences, and a week of southern U.S. dates are making it as exciting as the first time he ever grabbed a sleeping bag and a guitar. The tour will revisit several cities where he has already made friends and fans, as well as explore a few uncharted territories.
Rekus’ act can be described as punk rock meets outlaw country hooked up to a huge transformer to kick up the energy to 1.21 gigawatts.
The lyrical content stretches from hanging out in your favourite bar to the friends you have, to quitting your job, political jousting, life in general and then back again. All this when strumming the heck out of an acoustic guitar and stomping the beat out on his custom-built stomp box. It certainly bolsters the overall energy of his shows. “With High Five Drive, it was a very physical show. We were flying around the stage and a lot of what made us special, I feel, was the live show and the energy.”
Produced and engineered by sound wiz John Paul Peters (Comeback kid, Propagandhi) his latest disc The Dude Abides has 10 original songs showcasing a raw, stripped down, bare bones sound. That project was released last September.
Vocally, Rekus is right on the mark – it would be tough to think of a style of tunes that could better fit his robust and powerful voice.
For five days, Rekus and Peters locked themselves away in Private Ear Studios escaping exclusively for burritos, gourmet pizza and spontaneous listening sessions on the van stereo while creating the CD. The outcome was a punk stomp record that has traded in some of the traditional elements for a frenetically-played acoustic guitar and stomp.
“We were trying to go for a really live, raw sound. I didn’t want to spend two weeks banging it against a wall trying to make it perfect.” That sense of unbridled authenticity is unmistakable throughout the project, which brims with Rekus’ unique approach to crafting tunes that are pretty much impossible to get out of your head.
He’s already wrapping up material for the next CD.
“I have three songs that are brand new that I’ll be performing on this tour, and I’m hoping to have another 10 or 11 ready for a full-length CD next fall.”