Way Back

Way Back

The veteran Canadian band’s sixth studio album takes its title to heart, pairing often nostalgic lyrics with a sonic palette more heavily influenced by bluegrass and trad music than what’s often heard on commercial country radio. Written primarily during the COVID-19 pandemic, the album places sentimental tunes about family and youth (the wistful “World Could Use a Dirt Road”) alongside anthems (the rollicking title track), a dynamic the band’s Brad Rempel found reinvigorating. “I tried to make it ebb and flow where it’s like, OK, we’re wide open,” Rempel tells Apple Music. “Oh, now we’re really listening to the lyrics. Now we’re just jumping up and down. Now we’re back to some introspective, nostalgic kind of vibe. So, I want it to be incredibly upbeat, but I also do want it to have meat and potatoes. I want people to say, ‘That was a lot of fun, but it also made me think and made me reflect.’” Below, Rempel walks Apple Music through several of Way Back’s key tracks. “Way Back” “During this time, this season that we all just went through for the last couple years, I think people played more Scrabble, chess, Monopoly, watched more movies as families, went for walks—just all the things that we used to do back in the day that maybe got lost somehow between 2000 and 2019. So, you definitely hear nostalgia on this record, and you hear me trying to write about those things. I just want to remember all that kind of stuff.” “Somebody Tell That Girl” (feat. Anne Wilson) “I’d always loved the song, but I wasn’t sure if the message would connect with a dude singing it, almost like maybe it’d come across as a little preachy or like, ‘What do you know? You’re a dude. Why would you be trying to speak to us?’ So, with Anne's voice on it—first off, her voice is incredible. And secondly, her spirit is just so genuine, so gentle and loving and innocent. As soon as she put her voice on it, I felt like, ‘OK, hopefully young girls all over the world will listen to this message and believe it.’ My favorite line is, ‘She’s dying to hear it, but she never tells herself.’ And I can’t really force that on anybody. But when Anne sings it, it feels authentic.” “World Could Use a Dirt Road” “My wife and I kind of became borderline obsessed with flipping houses during the pandemic. And we built this Airbnb retreat/writer space called Cottage at the Ridge. We built this dirt road—a really, really steep dirt road up to the top of the hill where we built the cottage. And every time I go out there, so far, it hasn’t worn off. It just feels like, even though I’m only half an hour from Nashville, I feel like I’m a thousand miles away and the world just slows down and takes you back, in a nostalgic way, to your childhood, to when you would hear cows and birds and you hear grass moving in the wind and that’s about it. And that’s where the idea of that song came from.” “Country Music, Girls & Trucks” (feat. Granger Smith) ‘When I wrote this song, I was like, ‘Man, I need to pitch this to Granger.’ And then I got a little selfish and thought, ‘Why wouldn’t I, instead, invite him to sing on our record?’ So, he said yes, under one condition: I had to fly out to his ranch in Texas and shoot the music video. And if you ever get a chance to go to Granger’s farm, don’t pass it up. I thought I was very country until I got there. He invites his friends over, and it’s a girl who catches catfish bare-handed and a guy who builds army trucks. He welds from scratch and it’s just all these super-redneck experiences. ‘Country Music, Girls & Trucks,’ as stereotypical as that sounds, really does summarize our lives and, I think, a lot of our listeners’ lives.” “Whatever It Takes” “Every time we find magic on a record, it seems to be on the Gulf Coast of Florida. There’s a line in the song that says, ‘Swing a hammer, climb a ladder/Come on, darling, it don’t matter/Baby, I’d do anything for you.’ And that’s about as real as it gets. Because with [my wife] Rebecca and I flipping houses, that’s pretty much exactly what was going on. So, you literally do whatever it takes to make ends meet, to get by when you’re going stir-crazy. And when you’re a creative person, you’ve got to find that creative outlet. Live, we’ve actually been playing it in a kind of broke-down bluegrass vibe, mashing it into ‘I’ll Fly Away’ and ‘I Saw the Light,’ which are, I like to think, distant first or second cousins to this song.” “Never Not” “It’s maybe the most pop thing we’ve ever done, but it’s also the most real story I could tell. Anybody who knows me well knows that when I get offstage, there’s a 99 percent guarantee I’m going to Facebook Live or some type of way to watch my boys play football or basketball or baseball. And I’m checking in on my wife, and we’re doing bedtime prayers together with the family. It’s like, ‘If you wonder when I’m thinking about you, I’m never not.’”


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