Canadian brothers Brad and Curtis Rempel aka High Valley have been working hard promoting their breakthrough single Make You Mine.
Following the release of several independent albums, the brothers signed a major label deal with Atlantic/Warner Nashville. Their first album for the label is Dear Life, out now in the UK, and High Valley have been on the road promoting it all over the world.
While they were in the UK recently for a headline tour, I caught up with Brad from the band to take about the success of Make You Mine, find out more about Dear Life and to discuss the band’s plans to return to the UK.
It’s been a year since we last spoke and things have really taken off for you haven’t they?
It has been an amazing year it’s been just so exciting and everyone has been amazing in the US kind of for the first time in Canada of course and now out here in the UK it’s just everywhere everywhere we go things are wrapping up. We’re enjoying it like crazy.
Make You Mine has been bouncing around the charts for a long time now and it just seems to be getting stronger and stronger. Are you bored of the song and singing it so often yet?
No! Are you kidding me? Every night we play it. They sing louder and louder so we’ll just keep going. It’s number 19 right now on the charts in the U.S. and we’re just releasing the German version, in Germany, and we’ve got all kinds of plans for this song. The more people keep singing it the more we want it to keep going up the charts.
I saw the clip that you posted on Facebook of the German version. Why did you decide to record Make You Mine in German?
Well we grew up speaking German. Our mom and dad, their background is Mennonites, and the Mennonites are from Holland and Germany and a country called Prussia, which is now Russia, and our mom and dad grew up speaking German. That was the first language in our house and our hometown is 100% German. We thought it would be cool to show that side of our heritage and of course now that we have a record deal worldwide with Warner Brothers, the folks at Warner Brothers in Germany were helpful in making that happen.
Do you think that you will do more songs in other languages or are you going to see how this one goes first?
Honestly we haven’t thought about it. I don’t know any other languages so I’d have to learn. We’re in Wales right now and so far I can count on learning Welsh being pretty tough (laughs). We’ll see about that but we’re fascinated.
Out here in the UK and all of Europe you can drive such a short distance and be in a completely different country, different culture and different language. It’s not something we’re used to but we’re fascinated by it and were trying to learn as much as we can. Right now we’re at some old church in Aberdare, Waleswells. Curtis and I are walking around just kinda taking in the history.
How have you found the UK now that you’ve been here a few days and play some shows?
Yeah we’ve been here for about nine days now and there’s been a couple of sold out shows and a couple of smaller shows. Every one of them has been beautiful in it’s own way. One thing that’s been really cool is we’ve never really done a small club tour before. When we were starting out we did so much opening for other artists so even though our audience was small, we were given the opportunity to play a bigger venues because of who we were opening for. This was our first time playing smaller clubs and it’s been a really cool how close the audience is to the stage and how the person furthest from the stage is really not that far away. We just felt like we could connect on a very intimate level with these people.
I remember the reaction last year when you played C2C. The crowds were crazy and there was a lot of energy around you. People were talking about you the whole weekend. Was that what inspired you to come back and do this tour?
Definitely I remember we were on the plane and I got a message from one of our agents out here in the UK saying ‘check iTunes’ and our song was right in the top five on the Country iTunes Chart. He just said, ‘you know obviously people are liking it’. We were so encouraged by that and just excited to hear that. Right away we started making talks about coming back and I didn’t expect it to work out this well and this fast. I can be honest right now we’re already talking about another trip back to the UK after this one ends.
Let’s talk about the album Dear Life. It’s getting a proper release in March here in the UK and it came out last year in America. What’s the reaction to the album been like?
The reaction has been amazing. Some people have known us for a few years and some people are just getting to know us right so there’s different responses but people who’ve known us for a long time know that we’re all about the bluegrassy, acoustic Country kinda stuff. What we tried to do with this album is stay true to those same roots but kind of crank it up a few notches as far as the singability and the anthems that we’ve got on the record. We feel like we were able to make that happen. Songs like young forever are songs that stretch us a little bit. It’s been it’s been so cool to see that side of our means of being embraced as well.
You’ve really got this niche I think. Your songs are very singable – people at C2C knew all the words after the first time they’d heard them! You seem to have this niche where you’re taking the traditional roots of Country, folk and bluegrass and putting a modern spin on it. Was that your intention or is that just how your sound evolved over the years you’ve been doing this?
Honestly if you could hear the way the songs started when I wrote them, they all sounded way more bluegrassy then they do on the finished product. Our producer is a pop producer. He’d never produced a country band in his life. It was a really cool tug of war and we came at him with all the bluegrass instrumentation, and he’d come at us with these really pop melodies and ideas. The combination is what is what you hear on the record. We think it’s beautiful because it makes the songs way more singable but at the same time it stays true who we are, where we come from and what we’ve always done.
After I saw you last year. I went back and I got your other albums. I was pleasantly surprised to hear on Dear Life that it’s a progression of your sound rather than a major label overhauling it. There are a couple of tracks that were originally on County Line. Why did you make the decision to bring those songs with you into this phase of your career?
Honestly if you check the Canadian version of the album, they won’t have those same two songs but they’ve never been released in the US before. Make You Mine was our first single in the US so it obviously needed to be on the new album. She’s With Me – it’s a song that we still considered to be a very important part of our repertoire. Who knows, it could end up being a single in the US at some point, and overseas as well. We definitely wanted it to be on the album.
You’re going to be supporting Faith Hill and Tim McGraw later this year? How do you feel about that?
We are just beyond thrilled. I mean everybody knows that Faith Hill and Tim McGraw could have anybody open up for them, they’re a huge deal! We’re just shocked and honored that they allow us to open for them for a few shows.
There are a lot of Country festivals being announced in North America right now and you seem to be on the performer list for every single one. It looks like you’ve got a busy summer coming up…
Yeah we figured get it while the getting’s good y’know? Make hay while the sun shines! The bookings are coming in and we’ve been doing this for a long time. It just seems to be that we’re getting the opportunities and these festivals are saying ‘hey let’s give High Valley a shot’ and we don’t like saying no to those opportunities. We said yes, I think, over a hundred times already in 2017 (laughs) and it’s going to be an incredibly busy summer. It’s going to fly by a little too fast I think but our job is to try and make the most of it and enjoy every moment. That’s what we’re doing here on the UK tour. I mean every day we’re in a new city or a new country and places we’ve never been. We’re just trying hard to try not to enjoy it as much as we can.
Has it been difficult to balance such a hectic schedule with family life?
My boys both play football. One son is a quarterback and I try hard to fly home for all the football games and get back together. We just fight incredibly hard to get home as much as we can. You’d be surprised how much we’re at home. If you look at our schedule it looks like there’s no way but we do everything possible to get home as much we can. We’re also taking out a second bus for some of the tour this year so we can have family with us and bring our wives and kids.
That sounds like a good idea because at the rate you’re going, you may have to clone yourselves!
Yeah I think it’ll be a good idea for a few days and then probably everybody will be sick of us. Either way it will be good to try.
Will you be making time to work on some new music this year?
Yeah. Actually myself and Seth, our producer, and Ben Stennis who wrote a couple of the songs on Dear Life, just booked a trip back to the beach in Florida where we wrote four of the songs on Dear Life. This will be our third time doing it but we’ll bring our wives and our kids, and we hang out during the day then we write songs later. We record the songs while we’re there. I have a really good feeling that in a few weeks we do this next beach trip that will be the beginning of the next record.
It sounds like you’ve got this all down pat in terms of managing a hectic schedule, family life and recording music. You’re very organised!
Well you know we grew up loving music and loving our family at the same. I think you’ve got to figure out a way to make sure family are part of your life no matter what you do for a living Thankfully we’ve been able to do that and our music hopefully points people in that direction. We always love it if families can enjoy our music together. We like it to be really upbeat, really positive and something that kids and adults enjoy at the same time.
High Valley’s album Dear Life is available now. Watch the music video for Make You Mine below: