Interview: High Valley Are Putting Their Values Front and Center in Their New Music
Country duo High Valley describe the world from a specific perspective in their new single, "Single Man." The song is about a man weighing the pros and cons of being a single man -- the ability to stay out late and not consult anyone about plans -- but decides that no single man would turn down what he has: a loving wife.
The song comes from a situation in which twin brothers Brad and Curtis Rempel find themselves often: They have to leave behind their wives and kids to tour as part of their career, which skyrocketed after the release of their U.S. major-label debut album, Dear Life, in 2016. And while they may be surrounded by people who seem more carefree, they wouldn't trade what they have -- the values that are at the forefront of their heartfelt, foot-stomping music -- for anything.
"To me, the most interesting songs in country music have been the most legitimate stories," Brad Rempel tells The Boot. "Single Man," written by Rempel, Jordan Schmidt and Derick Southerland, is the first song from High Valley's upcoming record, due out at the end of this year. The catchy tune will appeal to fans of the Lumineers and Thomas Rhett alike, with crisp production and clever lyricism. It's in touch sonically and feels fresh and fun.
After making music for over a decade, the Canada-to-Tennessee transplants say working on their new album over the past year has been easier than ever before. "One of the huge benefits of being signed to a major label and people hearing your songs on the radio is, all of a sudden, they start following you around," Rempel says. "So we’ve had lots of time this year where other publishing companies will send tour buses out with songwriters.
"We wrote a bunch of these songs on the road," he adds. "I feel like we’ve had way more time to write this record than normal."
High Valley have spent quite a bit of time on the road, too, both on their own headlining tours and as an opening act for Old Dominion in late 2018. While they've turned some of their lessons from the road into songs, others, they've taken into a candid analysis.
"Pros of opening are, you play a few songs, and you’re hardly even sweating and you’re done for the day, then you get to go listen to somebody amazing like Old Dominion, and they sound so good," Rempel says.
Adds Curtis Rempel, "At home, yesterday I went to bed at 9:50. When you’re headlining, often you’re going onstage around that time. Often, if you’re in a different time zone, you might be getting onstage at midnight or 1AM Nashville time. That is hard. You get the sleepytime blues right as you’re about to start your show, and you gotta just start jumping around."
There are positives and negatives, of course, but it's worth it to the Rempels at the end of the day. Touring is an opportunity to connect with their fans -- and those fans are the reason they're able to make music for a living.
"I love when they say, 'Your song was our wedding song,' or, 'Your song was the first song we played when I asked her to be my girlfriend,' or, 'Your song, I heard the lyrics and that’s when I realized I was in love with her' -- all that kind of stuff," Brad Rempel says.
"To think that, someday, we’ll be responsible for a bunch of kids being born on this earth is a little stressful," he adds, laughing.
The audience response to High Valley's live sets has also been a testing ground for new songs. They've unlocked the key to making music that sounds great on the radio and in an auditorium.
"In "Make You Mine," at the very end of the song, it says 'in my arms tonight' instead of 'pure as a mountain rain.' Every time we get to that part, half the crowd sings 'pure as mountain rain,' half the crowd sings 'in my arms tonight,'" Rempel says. "Probably 10 percent of them sing the right lyrics."
"Sometimes there [are] songs that end on a note that’s not really resolving, and it’s artistic and it’s cool on a record, but live, the crowd doesn’t know the song is over so they just kind of stare at you," Curtis Rempel continues. "If you can just end on the one, it just helps with the live flow."
High Valley have clear sight for where they're headed. With sold-out shows and ACM Awards nominations in the bag, and a whole new record in the works, it's only up from here for the mandolin-wielding, slick-harmonizing country duo.
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