Interview: Scenic Route to Alaska
Life on Tour and the origins of the band name
On a grey, cloudy Sunday beginning of June, somewhere up in the North of Luxembourg… It was the second day of the Festival “Koll an Aktioun” and Stephanie and I had the great opportunity to interview the Canadian band Scenic Route to Alaska. Trevor (vocals & guitar), Murray (bass) and Shay (drums) were kind enough to grant us some of their precious time before their gig. Being huge fans, it was an incredible experience to ask them our questions.
So here we were...
Trevor, Shay and Murray are childhood friends from a small town called Edmonton in Alberta, Canada. Coming from a small community of “hippies”, as they describe their parents, they all grew up with music. From their early teenage years on the three were part of various bands. Back then they would go by the name of “The Juice” and “Marshmallow Overflow”. – Stephanie who has also played in different bands can relate to these numerous band names before finding the perfect one.
Now they have this poetic name “Scenic Route to Alaska. Being a fan of Alaska myself, I was intrigued and wanted to find out more about the meaning behind the name. Actually, none of the band members has been to Alaska so far. But, on the highway near their hometown stands a sign saying “Scenic Route to Alaska”. The highway sure goes all the way to Alaska but the trip takes around 48 hours. For the three musicians, signs like this one are uncommon, unlike here in Europe.
Fast forward to November 2016, in the cosy and intimate location of the “Gudde Wëllen”. That’s where they had their first ever show in our little country. Scenic Route to Alaska have spent most of last year on the road – touring and playing in different countries throughout Europe and Canada.
For the past two weeks, they had a gig almost on a daily basis in different European cities. No break, no time to really enjoy the scenery they drove through or to explore the cities they played in. The three regret that most of the time they only get a glimpse of each place visited, without being able to really take it all in. But then again, they say, that is what they signed up for and they do love the experiences that teach them so much. – The one thing they really miss though, when on tour, is their dog! So being at the “Koll an Aktioun” was actually nice for them, because dogs were allowed onto the festival site.
The main inspiration for the music of Scenic Route to Alaska is the classic rock genre. The band members grew up listening to the Who, the Rolling Stones and the Beatles – their main inspiration. But Trevor says that he would also listen to mainstream music like Blink 182 and Sum 41. The band is not trying to break any mould, but want to play music in their own style, with what they feel comfortable with. They don't want to be pigeonholed oar stick to just one genre. They want to try different things.
That mix of genres can be heard I their songs. The combination of upbeat music and sad lyrics fascinates me – a part that Trevor is responsible for as he mainly writes the texts for the songs. It’s like a therapeutic process for him and most of the songs are inspired by personal events: heart breaks, travel experiences etc. He says it’s much cheaper than therapy.
Music has more than ever a central role in their lives. When the band is on tour, they often play with international bands that don’t sing in English. Nevertheless, they all share the same experience. Even if, politically speaking, people cannot get together, through music they can. As cliché and cheesy as it may sound, music can do powerful stuff. Some musicians even get very literal about this power with humanitarian lyrics, but it is really about the community that is created through music.
Before finishing our little chat with Scenic Route to Alaska, Stephanie and I also asked some unusual and fun questions.
If a movie was made about Scenic Route to Alaska, which actors should play the band members?
Murray chose Michael Cera because he has been told that he looks like him. Shay was told in Mexico that he resembles Sean Penn, so the actor should portrait him. Trevor, not having any resemblance with a celebrity went with Bill Murray, because he is a great actor…Or maybe Matthew McConaughey…
Stephanie wanted to know the following:
If they could be one of their songs, which would it be?
Trevor said “One Day” from the new album. Murray would be “Again again” and Shay would be “Young, free, wild”.
With whom would you like to share the stage one day?
Bands like Noah and the Whale, Daft Punk and Dr. Dre were named. Soon Scenic Route to Alaska will be playing with Sam Roberts, a renown artist in Canada and they are really looking forward to that gig.
With what famous person would you like to have dinner with?
Without hesitation Murray named the Dalai Lama, while Trevor went with Wayne Gretzky, a famous hockey player. Shay wouldn’t mind having dinner with Clint Eastwood, or maybe Oprah for some motherly advice.
The band has played one last gig in Europe the day after our interview before heading home for yet some more touring. Later this year they will perform for the first time in the US and later on in Australia.
After the interview, we of course joined their concert, saw them play live and they were just amazing! Everyone was dancing to their catchy tunes and their gig was simply authentic! I can just recommend that you listen to their music, if you don’t know them yet, and go and see them live if you have the opportunity!
© Photos by Sana