By Glen Erickson
Thanks to the birth of the MP3, iPod, and Napster, the success of an independent band has hinged on distinction. Where the Internet gave us access to an entire ocean of new bands, it also made them small fish among millions. If you are Scenic Route To Alaska, a three-piece indie rock band, what sets you apart from the other thousand three-piece rock bands on Bandcamp? It’s clearly the distinction they’ve established since the start of their career.
With the release of Tough Luck, their fifth self-released album and second with producer Howard Redekopp (Tegan and Sara, The New Pornographers) the band has delivered distinction in spades. At the core, it is guitar, drums, bass and vocals – a.k.a a rock band. Yet, with all distinctly important rock bands it is the sum of the influences, lingering without prejudice, which create their sound. Scenic Route To Alaska (SRTA) has taken their genre-mash to the next level.
SRTA is made up of Trevor Mann (guitars, vocals), Murray Wood (bass) and Shea Connor (drums). No songwriter loves the ‘what genre?’ line of questions but Mann handles it like a pro. “Shea studied jazz, Murray and I grew up jamming more blues and R&B, but essentially we’re a rock band. Rock is more about attitude than anything these days. Considering where we are from, and all the influences of country, folk, and roots, I like to think we are more ‘prairie indie.’”
And a new sub-genre is born.
Influences are themselves a double-edged sword. These days you could show up to The Voice and nail your audition, but get left behind for having no definable identity.
“There is a large mix of things always creeping in, but we don’t write trying to emulate anything,” elaborates Mann. “I grew up listening to a lot of Beatles, and even during this last album cycle, so maybe I hear it sometimes. We listen to a bit of everything in the van together while on the roa, but when we write we just play what we want, what feels right to us.”
These three guys have grown up together as a band.
“Boys to men,” Mann chirps.
So what changes with getting older?
“We can’t pull off the late nights and early mornings as easily,” he says, chuckling.
“I guess the experience and time together is the biggest evolution. The only consistent thing is the songs we play on stage each night. That does something to you.”
Embracing adulthood within the band life has a taste of its own as shown in the transparency on tracks such as “Find My Footing” and “Ghost of Love,” tongue-in-cheek narratives on “first-world problems” of trying to build relationships while being on the road for months at a time.
With the new album release, SRTA are embarking on a three month, 38 date tour which concludes in Europe, but includes first-ever dates in the US and showcases at the iconic SXSW festival in Austin, TX. Mann is excited to see new places, reach new fans, and spread some distinct “prairie indie” to more of the world.
Scenic Route To Alaska play April 6 at The Den (Calgary), a sold-out show on April 7 at the Starlite Room (Edmonton) and on April 12 at Bo’s Bar & Grill (Red Deer).Bo’s Bar & Grill, Scenic Route to Alaska, Starlite Room, The Den