Library Voices and Rah Rah discuss their upcoming fall tours
Touring across the country when you’re from the prairies is by no means an easy feat. Having the heart of Canada’s music scene reside in the more populated areas such as Montreal and Vancouver means that bands from Saskatchewan have to work that much harder to be recognized.
Library Voices’ Michael Dawson agrees. “People start to have a bit of a preconceived notion about what you’re all about and I think it was a little bit harder for people to take us seriously.”
On the other hand, Erin Passmore of Rah Rah and Sylvie has a different perspective on breaking into the music scene in Canada.
“I think a lot of things were actually easier because we were from the prairies, just because a lot of big city folks don’t really think that it’s possible for a small town band to actually do what we do. They’re kind of taken aback. Some people think you can’t do what big city bands do because you’re from a smaller town, we like to prove them wrong.”
Young Soul Records labelmates Library Voices and Rah Rah have both done just that. With fan bases in all pockets of Canada, they’re proving that even a band from the prairies can break into the wider Canadian music scene.
This fall, Library Voices and Rah Rah plan to break further into Canada’s music scene by touring, and what’s a more perfect time to tour than in the fall? When it comes to publicizing yourself, especially to the student market, it’s much better to do so in autumn.
“It’s pretty much the perfect time because you don’t get over-heated and you don’t freeze your ass off,” Passmore laughed. “In the summer it’s really hard to play shows in smaller towns just because their students are away or back at home.”
Dawson agreed, saying that in the summer “People are so busy and doing so many other things. People are on vacation and in some cities when university is out literally half the city moves away.”
Touring outwards from the prairies is also hard when it comes to driving from town to town. Both groups exclaimed their dislike for the long six-to-eight-hour drives needed to get to the next venue for their sound checks.
“You’re basically looking at an eight-hour drive to the next city, versus when you get to Ontario and Quebec, most days it’s a two-hour drive. From a touring perspective [touring in Eastern Canada] makes life much easier.” Dawson explained.
“When you’re from Toronto everything is close by so you could make a weekend out of it, where as prairies have an eight-hour commute.” Passmore said.
Long commutes aren’t the only obstacles that prairie bands have to face. Being with the same people constantly for weeks and months at a time can get frustrating to say the least.
Both bands admitted that sometimes they have their sore points with band members but they get around them and make it work. Dawson pointed out that even though they get sick of each other “It’s kind of like speed dating in the band, we kind of rotate and spend the day hanging with someone else. Ninety-eight per cent of the time we get along with each other.”
Passmore was optimistic about Rah Rah’s attitude on this upcoming tour. “There will be times when we miss our families and friends and we kind of don’t talk that much that day or we get a little bit grumpy. We all know not to take that personally. It happens to everyone.”
Sometimes things don’t go as smoothly on the road as Passmore would like them to.
“We’ve had a few incidences of food poisoning which is never fun, especially because you have to keep moving. Because you’re in such close quarters with everyone, you really have to take your vitamins otherwise you’re gonna get sick too.”
Library Voices have had their own fair share of hardship on tour. “The worst for sure was a couple years ago. We had our van broken into in Vancouver. They stole just over $10,000 worth of equipment from us.” Dawson said. “We always have these hilarious – although they shouldn’t be, they should probably be tragic – events. We were invited to play a convocation at [the University of Victoria] and we were driving there sort of non stop … first the alternator went and we had to stop to get that fixed … next we were caught in a freak blizzard that came out of no where … But after all that we still managed to get on the ferry on time.”
“Nothing is easy for us!” he joked.
Of course one has to prepare for these crazy experiences that occur on tour. Preparing for a tour usually means putting a ton of extra hours at work and trying to squeeze in the time to meet up and rehearse. Along with the other small essentials: “It’s a matter of doing a lot of laundry and strategically packing.” Dawson stated.
Passmore laughed “I like to buy new socks especially for fall tours. If I could give any advice to those wanting to tour I would tell them to pack warmer than you think you’ll need!”
Michael Dawson and the rest of Library Voices’ upcoming tour is part of the Saskatchewan Arts Board’s “On The Go” program. You can catch them in Regina Oct. 15 at The Exchange.
Erin Passmore and Rah Rah kicked off their latest tour on Sept. 24 at the CBC building in Regina and will be touring across Canada for the rest of the fall.