The group is the highest selling Canadian band in Country music history with over half a billion streams, two gold albums and six platinum singles. You’ll know the group’s voice immediately when you hear it, and probably know the words to some of their most popular songs, “Make You Mine” and “She’s With Me,” along with streaming sensation “Grew Up on That.”
The band’s new 13-song project is their sixth album and some of the music was actually picked by their fans. Featuring collaborations from Granger Smith and up-and-coming music artist Anne Wilson, Way Back also includes previously released single “Whatever It Takes,” which is currently sitting Top 10 on the Canadian radio charts and climbing U.S. country radio charts.
Rempel says a lot of their new music is upbeat and stems from feelings about life and family. One of their songs, “Remember You Now,” inspired by a trip to Mexico where Brad and his family left all of their phones in the resort. They traveled 40 minutes to dinner, realized they were lost and didn’t have their cell phones to guide them back. Brad says it all ended up working out, and overall was a good experience spending quality time with family, which he feels is the most important message on the record.
“‘Remember You Now’ feels like the most beautiful, melodic song that I never would have envisioned,” he tells CS Country reporter Holly Bock. “Being able to have a song like that, the real gist of it is, ‘hey, I just want to forget about pictures right now and remember you like I want to soak up this actual moment.’ And I think it’s almost the most important message on the record.”
Keep scrolling to read our full Q&A with Brad below and don’t forget to let us know what you think of High Valley’s new album by either leaving a reaction at the bottom of the post or by sending us a tweet at @CS_Country.
Celeb Secrets Country: Brad, you had a hand in writing all 13 songs. What was the writing process like and how long did it take you to come up with all of the songs and lyrics?
Brad Rempel: “Some of the writing was over Zoom, some of it we went to the beach which is always awesome when you can have a writer’s retreat down there. Some of it was my wife and I built this Airbnb called Cottage at the Ridge and we use it as a creative space. A lot of people do music videos and stuff out there and writers retreats, and so obviously we use that too. And some of it was your more standard Music Row, you know, get into a studio on Music Row and write kind of stuff. I write so many songs for other people and of course, for ourselves as well. And when it was time to kind of boil it down to which 13 we put on this record, we started putting the demos up on Instagram and Tiktok and Facebook and Twitter and just having fans vote on it. So it was actually really cool to kind of see what songs that jumped out and that really helped me decide which ones to put on the record.”
CS Country: What does “Way Back” mean and what does the song mean to you?
Brad Rempel: “High Valley records are always about family and country, there’s always a lot of nostalgia. But I don’t want to be one of those nostalgic guys that complains about how things are and says things were way better way back in the day. I want to be one of those guys that looks back on simple times that we always love to sing about in country music and say how can we bring that forward? Like how can you take the best parts of whatever happened way back in the day and pass that on to the next generation? How can you just turn your phone off for a minute and actually enjoy the world, go for a walk, hang out with your family, eat dinner without the TV on, you know? That kind of stuff. There’s a lot of that theme. The song ‘Way Back’ specifically we told the musicians ‘imagine that you play for Green Day, you’re in a rock band, but your instruments got stolen and you had to switch out with a bluegrass band and now you have to record this whole song with only bluegrass instruments,’ so they’re basically a rock band playing a rock song with bluegrass instruments so that is kind of the angle we took on that song.”
CS Country: What has been some of the feedback that you’ve gotten so far from fans?
Brad Rempel: “It’s been awesome. It’s been cool because we’ve found all kinds of new fans because of the collaborations and stuff so Anne Wilson fans you know, she’s a huge Christian artist and she was kind enough to jump on this record and sing ‘Somebody Tell That Girl’ and that message of that song, I don’t think would have resonated nearly as well as as just a bunch of dudes singing it, but when you get a girl singing ‘Hey, somebody tell that girl she’s perfect. She’s dying to hear it but she never tells herself’ and all of a sudden that doesn’t feel that preachy, it just feels like she’s talking to her crew, you know? So I love the message of that song. With Granger, he had me come out to his ranch in Texas and I think it was the most country experience of my entire life being up there and it’s been cool to see that fan base latch on to High Valley and at the end of the day, there’s enough people out there that kind of know what to expect from us. And I love reading the reviews that they feel like we gave them another album and that they love the message, they love the lyrics but they also love how upbeat and energetic it is, like you know a lot of this makes me smile, this makes me dance. This is what I needed. After a couple of years of not so exciting times this has been an uplift and that’s the kind of stuff I always want to hear.”
CS Country: How did it come about working with Anne Wilson?
Brad Rempel: “She’s like the new ‘it girl’ in Nashville. I feel like every time I walked into the studio for a certain period of time, they were like “Hey man have you heard this new girl Anne Wilson? Have you heard her voice? You should check her voice out. It’s amazing” and that happened literally three times back to back to back and our A&R person, Melissa Spillman had just dug through the vault. I mean, ‘Somebody Tell That Girl’ was I think six years old. And she’s like, ‘This song is great, but it needs to be a duet. What do you think about Anne Wilson?’ and she was friends with Anne, she reached out and thankfully Anne was down for that. And she’d always wanted to be on the country record, and I was just thrilled to have her voice on that. So it worked out really well.”
CS Country: You posted “Is reverse mudding a thing?” along with a video you filmed for the music video of “Country Music, Girls & Trucks” with Granger Smith. Can you walk me through shooting that video?
Brad Rempel: “Granger’s got this brand called Yee Yee and it’s like this country lifestyle brand. And I mean, it’s crazy to me, like on my way to the gym here in Nashville, I drive by a guy’s house when I make the turn to the rec center. And he has a Yee Yee decal on the back of his truck and it’s like, it’s just everywhere. He’s kind of taking over the country world with this brand and so he was celebrating Yee Yee day, which I had no idea was a thing, but it definitely is. So he’s got like his friends over there and he’s like, man, the perfect time to shoot the video would be Yee Yee Day. And I’m like, if you say so Mr. Smith. So he’s got the World’s Strongest Man, a girl Hannah who catches catfish barehanded, a guy who wells army trucks from scratch like builds these monster trucks by hand, and a guy who is famous on Netflix with a show called How To Be A Cowboy. I mean, it’s just like I thought I was country until I got there and was like man I need to up my game a little bit.”
CS Country: If you were to pick a song that you just feel like you really relate to the most in this album. What would it be?
Brad Rempel: “‘Praying Woman.’ It is so autobiographical, just because High Valley’s so known for the positivity and, like, almost goody two shoes choirboy, you know, Hallmark movies style PG country, like they might think like we’ve got it all together, but I really thought it was important on Praying Woman to be like, hey, guess what? I’m as messed up as the rest of them. And if it wasn’t for praying women in my life, this whole thing would be a mess. So I owe that to my wife, obviously. But also to my three sisters, and to my mom, and I bet there’s a lot of dudes out there who can identify with and hopefully a lot of women out there can identify with being a praying woman in somebody’s life.”
CS Country: You mentioned one of your songs is pretty old. If you were to pick one of the hardest songs to write, or maybe one you kept making changes to, is there one?
Brad Rempel: “‘Remembering Now; is probably the most like ridiculous of a story behind this song and then trying to find a real way that people can identify with ‘Remembering Now’ is basically like, the hook says, ‘Forget about pictures, I want to remember you now,’ and I mean, if there’s one thing that the world hasn’t forgotten about in the last 10 years is pictures. It’s like all anybody’s ever doing is taking a picture with their phone of something and can’t put it down. So I didn’t want to write a cheesy song about like, put your phone down. That’d be lame. But ‘Remember You Now’ feels like the most beautiful, melodic song that I never would have envisioned. Being able to have a song like that, the real gist of it is, ‘hey, I just want to forget about pictures right now and remember you like I want to soak up this actual moment.’ And I think it’s almost the most important message on the record.”
CS Country: You’re the highest selling Canadian band in country music. More than 500 million streams. If you were to just think back to when you started music and think of that statistic now. How does it make you feel?
Brad Rempel: “It’s crazy. I mean, I’ve heard that been said a couple times and it always sounds like somebody’s lying. Sounds like it’s not true. Our first record I mean, our very first record, I was four years old and it was my mom and sisters, my dad with myself but our first High Valley record we started working on it 25 years ago and when we got it, we got 500 copies but they always print like extra CDs just in case some go bad. And we got 543 copies of that one and I don’t think we sold all of them, so the numbers you just read me are pretty surreal.”
CS Country: What about this album, what about it to you is different with the songs and the writing? What about this album just feels different to you compared to previous?
Brad Rempel: “I’m just a little freer. I think every year in my career I get a little less worried about what anybody thinks and a little more passionate about making art that I believe in. And I think a song like ‘Run Outta Somedays’ would probably be a good reflection of that. Guess what someday you’ll run out of somedays, so how about just do it right now?”
CS Country: For listeners what are you most excited for them to gain from listening to this album?
Brad Rempel: “Well, first off, I think they deserve like, hopefully a bunch of new fans too but all the existing fans, I think they deserved a full record. It had been so much time of me writing songs for other people and not enough putting out actual High Valley records. So I’m excited for them to have a full new record to latch on to. And I’m excited for the timing of it. I mean, we’re going into summer right now. And there’s a lot of really upbeat stuff on this record. And I just hope it’s a soundtrack for a lot of people for 2022.”
CS Country: We are Celeb Secrets Country so do you have any secrets whether it has to do with the album or something that has happened recently?
Brad Rempel: “My deepest darkest secret is that our new single is called ‘Country Music, Girls & Trucks’ and I don’t even own a truck and I’m a country singer.”