One of Regina’s rising stars charts his course
Author: Ethan Butterfield — contributor
There are many talented musicians in the province of Saskatchewan and many of these musicians have come from the city of Regina itself. Alex Runions is a Regina-based country singer who has been making waves recently with a new album and has a lot of shows happening down the road. Alex has found much success in his career thus far as a country singer. Runions has won the ‘Big Dog’ 92.7 FM ‘Next Big Thing’ competition, performed at the Craven Country Jamboree, has been nominated for 3 SCMA Awards, and has a couple of well-charted singles to his name, including ‘Passenger Seat’ and ‘A Little Bit of Sunshine.’
So, the first question I wanted to ask is when did you pick up a guitar and start playing? What was that experience like for you?
“There was a high school band that rocked and one of the band members taught me how play, and I just picked it up from there and I knew I wanted it so bad that I worked at it so hard.”
I noticed you did covers before things really took off. Are there any artists or songs that you really liked to cover?
“Yeah, well there are certain songs that a little bit more fun, I mean, when you’re doing a live show everybody wants to hear “Dust on the Bottle” and “Cadillac Ranch” – stuff like that. I also like playing Eric Church and Zac Brown Band and it’s nice, cause when we’re doing a cabaret show, we do a lot of covers to keep the crowd going.”
Now, you won the 92.7 Big Dog ‘Next Big Thing’ Competition. What was your reaction to that?
“It was really exciting, it was humbling, the feeling of recognition. That was the first competition I ever won. And everybody, at some point, you go to these singing competitions, they’re all over the place and they’re always happening. We entered two or three prior and then when we won it this time; it just felt like ‘o.k., so we’re in the right direction, we’re doing the right thing’. It was great competition that we had and it was really nice to win that.”
What was performing at Craven like for you?
“That was fantastic; it was such a big stage. It’s a really well oiled machine and playing to a big crowd. There’s just nothing like it.”
I can’t even imagine what that would be like.
“Well, last year, we played in the beer gardens after Dallas Smith on the last night and it was the highest attendance they’ve ever had, so that crowd was pretty amazing.”
So out of all the artists you’ve opened and closed for, do you have a personal favourite, or did you just enjoy working with all of them?
“Well everybody has different personalities. Some people are very approachable, some people not so much. There was a show that I actually did at Big Valley Jamboree and we had the kickoff party and Neal McCoy, who was really big in the 90’s and is sort of reviving himself these days, getting back into it. He was the coolest guy, he put on the coolest show I’ve ever seen and it was just all about the crowd, which was great, cause usually when you’re playing what you want is, ‘it’s not about you, it’s all about the crowd and that you’re creating moments for them and that they’re happy when they leave.’ Yeah, Neal McCoy was just something else to watch, his show was just so entertaining and he was just an extremely nice guy.”
So I noticed you have a new album coming out called ‘South of the City’?
“Yep, that’s my first album in, I think, about five years. I get a whole bunch of co-writes on that. My first album I mostly wrote on my own, but this album was a little bit different; I used a different studio. They’ve been studio of the year the last few years and I think they’re up for it again. But, yeah, I did a lot of co-writes on it; there were a couple of guys from ‘The Road Hammers’. I just really wanted the best songs I could find and I think we got a really good product from it.”
So, last question. I’m just wondering how you’ve handled all the success you’ve found throughout your career thus far and what’s next for you?
“Well it’s funny because it’s sort of going through the motions of ‘I have a goal’ and as far as handling success, it’s something that’s not even so much on my mind. I mean there’s a lot of work, but it’s not as chaotic as when I first started out. I know more of what I’m doing. That’s sort of the natural progression of it, it’s always looking forward and I very rarely look back. It’s big for me, it’s just looking forward and seeing what the next thing is and what do I need to do to make it work. And what’s next for me? Well we’re really looking, like the team that I have is looking for a more national campaign, just doing more festivals and more opening acts, well also promoting the album and working on the next steps.”
So, there you have it. Hopefully, you enjoyed this look into the career of a local country music star. I have had a chance to listen to some of the new tunes, and I would say that it’s gonna be a rollercoaster ride for Alex Runions.