Edmonton-based indie rock trio Scenic Route to Alaska are heading to Red Deer this fall on the heels of their latest release Long Walk Home.
The 2015 Edmonton Music Awards ‘Group of the Year’ plays Bo’s on Oct. 14th.
Long Walk Home, the prairie indie outfit’s third LP, finds Trevor Mann (lead vocals/ guitar), Shea Connor (drums) and Murray Wood (bass) weaving catchy vocals and memorable melodies through relatively rich arrangements – instantly engaging but begging to be heard again and again.
“We’re lucky that all three of us grew up together and played music together – we go back,” said Mann with a laugh. “I met Murray when I was about five years old – we lived in the same community and went to the same elementary school. I think by the time we were seven, we were best friends.
“When I was about 11 years old, Shea moved to the community Murray and I lived in which is Riverdale in Edmonton, and he was invited to Murray’s birthday party – so that’s how I met him. All of a sudden the three of us just became really good friends, and we started jamming – making funny tunes, playing in an old four-piece band and at sock hops playing a lot of R&B covers and Beatles-inspired stuff,” he recalls.
For Mann, he was in his late teens by the time he began writing his own tunes. “Murray and Shea helped in that process for sure, and there was such a comfortable sense in being with those two guys.”
Time went by and the three just continued to gel as a band – and today they are full-time musicians. And enjoying every minute of it.
Indeed. Their collaboration has been described as a, “Coveted combination within the crowded sphere of indie rock – and one that’s rarely the product of anything but time, talent, and heaps of hard work.”
The friends formed Scenic Route to Alaska in 2010.
Their early releases – a self-titled 2011 EP and 2012 full-length All These Years – belied the youth of the band and its members, owing to their and years of making music together and brotherly bond.
The attention and accolades poured in and earned them performances at prestigious events like the Edmonton and Canmore Folk Festivals and CMW. They propelled themselves to an even higher peak with 2014’s Warrington, earning rave reviews in addition to shows alongside contemporaries like Hey Rosetta!, Said the Whale, and Born Ruffians.
They also landed a WCMA nod for Pop Recording of the Year and were finalists in the inaugural edition of Alberta’s Peak Performance Project.
As for the vision for Long Walk Home, Mann said the goal was essentially to capture what the guys drum up in a live show but also to spice up the sound for the best, most polished project to date. Of course, the heart and soul of what makes Scenic Route to Alaska the band they are remains absolutely intact.
Lyrically, Mann writes the bulk of the songs for the band with collaboration with the other guys, too. “For the most part we collaborate on a song – I’ll bring a very rough ‘skeleton’ of a song on guitar or something. And we’ll pick up some other instruments and just hash it out until we feel like we’ve found what we were going for.”
A love for music in Mann’s life came early, but there was another career that he had high hopes for during those early years as well. “Like every other Canadian kid out there, I wanted to be in the NHL,” he laughs. “But once we gave up on those dreams and we all decided we wanted to make music, we wanted to figure out what we had to do to make that possible and building a sustainable career out of it.
“It’s definitely where my heart is – 100 per cent. It’s not that there aren’t other things I like doing, but if I can continue to keep paying the bills this way, then I’m laughing.”
Both his parents were folk musicians, so there was certainly loads of music heard on any given day. “They had separated, but only lived a block from each other and got along really well. My dad would play five nights a week in grungy bars, so he’s extremely happy that I’ve managed to have my own songs and get up there and present my own stuff a bit more. It’s really cool.
“Sometimes they were too supportive,” he adds, chuckling, noting that if there was a choice between finishing an essay or taking a gig, his parents would often encourage him to snap up the gig. “They wouldn’t force me to finish the essay.
“When I’d go to bed at night, he’d always sit down at the kitchen table singing away – it was a great way to fall asleep.”
Meanwhile, on stage, Scenic Route to Alaska’s energy is palpable and the fun contagious.
Always locked in with a syncopation that can only stem from a long collective history, the band bounces from ballads to bangers with ease, leaving a lasting impression on any kind of audience in front of them. That said, Mann said he still gets the jitters prior to hitting the stage – even though he loves it.
“I think I’ve just learned how to turn that more into adrenaline, and energy and a passion – it’s about harnessing the power, harness the fear – it’s the only way to deal with it.”
The band will head over to Berlin, Hamburg and Amsterdam in September to play a couple of showcases supporting their release including Reeperbahn Festival before kicking off their Canadian run on Sept. 30th in Fernie, B.C.