Interview: High Valley Say New Album ‘Dear Life’ Is ‘Like a Diary’
High Valley are well-known in their native Canada, but their U.S. debut album, Dear Life, was only recently released, on Nov. 18, via Warner Bros. The 11-song record includes “Make You Mine” and “Every Week’s Got a Friday,” which both became Top 10 hits in the duo’s native Canada; the latter is also a Top 30 (No. 21) hit in America.
High Valley’s brothers, Brad and Curtis Rempel, are just beginning to make their mark in the United States, but they have bigger plans than simply being successful in North America: They’ve got a European tour scheduled for 2017, and they’re determined to work harder than ever before to grow their fan base.
The Rempels recently took some time to sit down with The Boot to discuss Dear Life (available on Amazon and iTunes), how their careers affect their personal lives (and vice versa) and how they are preparing to make 2017 their best — and busiest — year yet.
How does it feel to have your debut album in the United States, Dear Life, released?
Curtis Rempel: It feels awesome. Like that feeling when you wait for Christmas all year, and then it happens, and then it’s the next day and it’s over. This is kind of like that, except it’s not over — it keeps happening and happening and happening.
Brad Rempel: We had so many songs that almost made the album that didn’t, that we loved. I was more nervous about what songs to not put on the album than I was about the actual album — like, sad. I hope we get to do another Dear Life 2.0 or something, to let people know all the songs that almost made the album.
How is your childhood, as part of a small-town Mennonite community, reflected in Dear Life?
Brad Rempel: Our Mom, she has everybody over; they have a huge house and a big yard. Our job is to be onstage and let everyone into our lives. Dear Life is like a diary. I think we wrote a diary and then let everybody read it, basically, with Dear Life, but it’s not that big of a stretch from our Mom. Growing up, our house and our farm and everything was like that.
You’ve been busy a lot this year, including your recent tour with Martina McBride, and you recently announced you’re headlining your own tour in Europe next year.
Brad Rempel: We announced tickets [that] morning, and [on the same day], London [was] over halfway sold out already, which is super cool. They’re small clubs, but we didn’t know if three people would buy our tickets … I think they’re so hungry for country music, they’re very passionate about that.
We’ll play in any country. We’ll play in Bangladesh if they’ll have us.
Curtis Rempel: It’s crazy how viral that part of the world is.
"I think we wrote a diary and then let everybody read it, basically, with ‘Dear Life’."
How has your rising success and new-found fame affected your families?
Brad Rempel: My wife notices lately more circumstances that we’re in where people ask her for stuff, or casually let her know that they know what we do for a living. She said that has definitely cranked up 1,000 percent. But she’s very cool with it, and she is very unassuming, a very humble person.
With the kids, we make their sports a priority, and their school a priority, and their friends a priority, so much higher than my career, that it’s never interfered with our family. People kind of know it. The only weird thing that happened is, [recently], my son came home from school and said that all his friends like “Young Forever,” our song that’s in Madden. And then he got a poster of us, and he asked me for my autograph on his poster, and I was like, “Is this awesome or horrible?” I wasn’t sure.
Curtis Rempel: My son’s two-and-a-half, so he just knows that I go on airplanes and buses a lot, and I have guitars with me when I do that.
My wife is super supportive, and she’s very proud of the accomplishment of the band. She chooses not to read comments on social media because it’s just too much eye-rolling and things like that for her, so she just chooses to not follow that stuff.
You guys are brothers first and business partners second. What’s the dynamic between the two of you? Are there every any disagreements?
Brad Rempel: Most people figure out pretty fast, just by hanging out with us, I’m always more serious, and he says the funniest stuff all the time.
Curtis Rempel: Brad’s making sure things get accomplished most of the time, and I’m trying to make sure people are smiling most of the time. That’s kind of just what I strive for.
Brad Rempel: Basically, if you want to have a good time, hang out with Curtis. If you want to get things done and be bored at the same time, hang out with me.
"We’re just fortunate that out of all the crazy dreams we have, quite a number of them are materializing, which is amazing. It’s unbelievable."
You had a lot of success in Canada, before making the move to the United States, which is an entirely different market. What continues to drive you?
Brad Rempel: I’d hate to be the second-hardest working band, I’ll be honest. We do work really hard, but we don’t want to just work hard, as in drive circles around North America and be gone all the time and say how hard we work. We like to work hard, even at home, and there’s a lot of stuff you can do online right now to work hard, and there’s a lot of stuff that I don’t think is hard work. It’s just things that you think of, and my brain is constantly thinking of different angles or opportunities and stuff.
Nobody ever praises you for working hard in all those ways, unless it works and people start noticing. I’m sure there’s a lot of bands that work their butts off that nobody’s heard of, because, unfortunately, all the ideas they have might not translate into getting on the radio or the Opry or a UK tour. We’re just fortunate that out of all the crazy dreams we have, quite a number of them are materializing, which is amazing. It’s unbelievable.
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