The Rural Alberta Advantage’s Nils Edenloff on the evolution of ‘Plague Dogs’

Raa Plaguedogs Leroyschulz Copy

The Rural Alberta Advantage. // photo by Leroy Schulz

“Plague Dogs,” the latest single from the Rural Alberta Advantage is a massive folk-indie track we cannot stop playing, so it was obviously the first thing we brought up to frontman Nils Edenloff when we spoke to him ahead of the band’s first-ever Kansas City show. The Toronto-formed band makes their area debut on Thursday, March 2, at RecordBar with fellow Toronto musician, singer/songwriter Georgia Harmer.

The Pitch: “Plague Dogs” is a great song.

Nils Edenloff: Oh, awesome. Thanks so much, man. It’s funny, we struggled with that one for a while and in different ways and I think we’re finally happy with the end product and we’re just happy to share it with people now.

The song itself dates back to early 2020. What with the title and timing and all, we’re curious as to what the process of bringing this song to life has been, given that it’s had such a long birthing process?

I can say very rewarding, now that we’re at where we are. I feel like we tend to be really hard on ourselves but we know that once we have something that works, it’s there. It clicks with us. We tried to do some recording at the end of 2020, actually, and this is one of the ones that we brought in.

From the very beginning, I knew there was something there that was exciting that we wanted to convey and it just seemed like we could go in the studio and it’d be like, “Oh, we can knock this out. It’ll be not a problem,” but things weren’t working out with the guys we were in there with. They tried to make it something that it was not, which caused this crisis of faith on our end, and we started to spin our wheels a bit.

It was funny. When we were recording The Rise, we’d been working with this guy, Gavin Gardiner, so we were excited to do some more work with him. We had some sessions booked with him in August of last year and I get really stressed out as we’re getting close to recording, unless we have a clear picture of what we’re doing.

We kind of had an idea with another song that we’re gonna be putting out at some point, but the song, “Plague Dogs,” I was like, “Honestly guys, I am so stressed out because it just seems like the three of us aren’t on a page.” We were rattled by previous recording things and it wasn’t working out. I remember, I came home from work. I was talking to my now-wife right before I was going to practice, and I was like, “I don’t know what we’re doing with this song. I’m so, so terrified.”

We went into practice and I was just sort of like, “Let’s just try anything.” I just started strumming that first guitar that starts the song and everything just kinda fell together. It’s one of those things that, you know, you never know what’s gonna happen until it finally happens.

Then, that night I went home after practice, stayed up ’til probably three o’clock in the morning and the next morning I’m like, “Guys, I got a demo for it,” and it’s pretty close to the final version. So it’s like, “I wish things happened immediately and so easily,” but sometimes it’s just like you gotta spin your wheels and and figure it out. That’s the long and the short of the birthing process, I guess.

That title, in addition to having a meaning to the world at large, one has to imagine that it has some special significance to you all as a band, considering Covid cut your tour off at the knees last year.

Yeah. Yeah, there was that and I always knew that something special happens when the three of us kind of get–I can’t explain the three of us playing off each other, whether it’s playing a show or just trying to work on music in a space–but yeah, I definitely feel that when lockdown stuff happened, it was like, “Oh wow.” It’s very hard for us to do our thing unless we’re together in the same room.

It was definitely discouraging when we were trying to do a bunch of shows before our visa expired in May and we got three shows in and had to cancel it. I got sick and then it was a domino effect. Amy [Cole, keyboards, bass, backing vox] got sick, Paul [Banwatt, drums] got sick, and it was just like, “We can’t do this. It’s the world we live in now.”

It seems like you were able to make a comeback. The video for “Plague Dogs” was shot during a hometown show last November and it just looks like the band is just as excited to be playing the show as the audience is to be seeing it.

Yeah. Yeah. It was. We had done a tour in October of Western Canada. And then in late November we did some shows in Ontario, kind of close to home. The Danforth was our first hometown show in quite some time. We’d started playing “Plague Dogs” on the road, ’cause after we’d figured it out in the studio, we’re like, “All right, let’s get playing this a bit more now.” Even from the very beginning of starting to play it, it’s like, yeah, it just feels fun and epic.

The Rural Alberta Advantage plays RecordBar on Thursday, March 2. Details on that show here.

Categories: Music