High Valley on Canadian Country, Making it After 20 Years & Touring the U.S.

High Valley Press Shot
Photo Courtesy of WMG

Country music has a long history of small rural towns producing top talent, and memorable songs. And yes, that even includes Canada…or at least now it does thanks to the success the duo High Valley has achieved.

The band comprised of brothers Brad and Curtis Rempel, formed in 1997 in the small town of Blumenort, Alberta, Canada. (Their brother Bryan was a member of the band until 2014). The band worked the Canadian country scene for years, and eventually landed on Atlantic Records in 2015. Since signing that deal, their single “Make You Mine” has had over 22 million streams, and was a Top 20 Country radio hit. Their latest single, “She’s With Me” has over five million on-demand listens. Their record Dear Life peaked at number three on the Billboard Heatseekers chart in the United States, and reached #36 and #37 in Canada, and the United States respectively on the Billboard charts.

The band is currently on “The Highway Finds” Tour, a tour sponsored by Sirius XM’s The Highway. This annual tour features an up-and-coming country act touring venues around the nation. On Friday October 20 tour brings High Valley to The Wonder Bar in Asbury Park, NJ.

We caught up with Brad Rempel to talk about the Canadian music scene, putting in 20 years of work and finally making it, and touring around the United States.

The American country music scene is pretty well-known, and well-documented. Can you describe the Canadian country scene? Is it as robust as the American scene, where you can tour, and play a ton of gigs, and learn your craft? Or is it a bit more difficult to build yourself out, and break out?

We honestly never try and pay attention to the differences in the scenes. I can say that when we started our band we wanted to make the best music we could regardless of which scene it would fit into. We’ve had great influences from all around North America and Europe. We love some artists from Australia. I really believe country music has no borders and we’re doing our best to take it worldwide.

You’ve been a band since you were kids, and are currently breaking out huge right now with “Make You Mine,” and “She’s With Me.” However, 20 or so years is a long time to be band — was there ever a time when you guys thought, “Will we ever break out?” and possibly thought about hanging it up? Or was this always the dream, and always the goal?

There’s a line in “She’s With Me” that says “When my dreams are runnin out of road…”. There were definitely times when it felt like we’d have to give up. Thankfully my wife Rebekah was my biggest supporter and we’ve been able to hold on and see the dreams become reality.

Rolling Stone Country was quoted saying ‘Your music brings a modern pulse to a generation-bridging mix of folk, pop, and country.’ I can hear the blend of modern pop country with a traditional sensibility. It would’ve been easy for you guys to stick with a pure pop sound that is dominating the country scene — why make conscious effort to keep those old school country and folk elements in your music?

We don’t have to try hard at all to keep the old school country and folk in our music. We would have to try incredibly hard to get rid of it. It’s who we are. It’s a huge part of what defines us as a band.

Can you talk about your musical inspirations — what bands/singers really helped influence/inspired the sound of the band?

Ricky Skaggs is hands down our biggest influence. As far as bands, Diamond Rio is such an amazing country band and we wore out all their albums and still do.

You guys are touring all over the U.S. — how has the response been so far? What cities have blown you away the most ?

Chicago. Windy City Lake Shake was our favorite show this past year. Beautiful, passionate city. And wow do they know how to sing!!

On your social media I saw you guys posted a picture of yourselves on a billboard in Atlantic City — is this all really surreal to you guys?

That was a crazy feeling. I almost didn’t get my phone out in time to capture the picture. Where we’re from, we don’t even have billboards.

What is something you absolutely love about being in this band?

The opportunity to put smiles on people’s faces. Music has always been such positive energy for me. To see our music and live show brighten someone’s day is a beautiful feeling.

You guys are a duo — but with that rich sound you guys have, what kind of other musicians do you have playing with you?

Our band is amazing. All the guys behind us on stage are amazing musicians and great to hang with. We laugh a lot and no one takes themselves too seriously. I think that shows during our live show.

What’s the best piece advice you’ve received in the music industry? And what’s a piece of advice you could to a band that’s in the same position you were in 10-20 years ago?

Find out what makes you unique and find out what is you want to say. Stop doing, writing, recording things are not unique and not what you want to say. Quit wasting time chasing other sounds on the radio. Do your own thing. Build your own fan base.

What are you most excited for coming up in 2017, and in early 2018?

Our tour will take us from NYC to LA and all points in between. It’s our first time headlining in the USA. Also, were playing CMC rocks in Australia in 2018. That’s a bucket list show for sure.

Catch High Valley at Wonder Bar in Asbury Park tonight. Click herefor tickets.

Bill Bodkin is the gray bearded owner, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break. Most importantly, he is lucky husband, and proud father to a beautiful daughter named Sophie. He can be seen regularly on the site reviewing The Walking Dead, Doctor Who, and is the host of the site's podcast, The BreakCast. He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English. Follow him on Twitter: @BodkinWrites