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Arts + Culture

Altameda Brings California Vibes to the Wildhorse Saloon

Edmonton-based bank Altameda formed after lead singer Troy Snaterse asked a few friends to back him up on a recording project. They clicked and what was originally intended to be a singer-songwriter EP turned into the band’s first record, Dirty Rain. Drawing from far-flung influences including Tom Waits, Neil Young, The Beatles, Bob Dylan and Jackson Browne, the record is the perfect soundtrack to your summer listening needs.

Altameda will be at the Wildhorse Saloon opening for Sam Roberts Band on Sunday, July 9. We caught up with drummer Erik Grice to hear more about starting the band, how they got their name and their summer road trip playlist recommendations.

How did Altameda, the band, come to be?

We all grew up in the same scene playing in different bands, so we all knew each other since junior high school, but never really connected all four of us. But then our singer Troy had written a handful of songs and he was working on putting together a singer-songwriter EP. He talked to us each individually about coming to play on the record. A pretty short amount of time of just him recording turned into a year and nine months of all of us recording and then kind of making the songs and then rehearsing on a regular basis. Then, we started playing shows, and I think in that moment he was like, “This would probably just work out if this was a band instead of just me.”

So you’re coming to the Wildhorse Saloon on July 9. Excited?

It’s going to be a bigger one. What a lot of reviews and people said about [Dirty Rain] is that it’s this perfect, easygoing summertime road trip vibe, which is very nice, but when you kind of get thrown into the bar scene and no one really knows what you’re all about, there’s sort of like a fight or flight mode where you almost feel that you have a little something to prove.

Do you ever get to play your music in other types of situations?

We’re getting recognized by folk fests and roots and blues fests — we’ve kind of moved to a platform where we now play some of the stuff that’s on the softer side, and not get drowned in by the bar noise and over the last few months there have been attentive crowds that have kind of been responding to that side of us, which is nice because now we can be a little bit more vulnerable in terms of some of the material that we’re playing.

They also know your music more now.

It’s kind of a fine line where you’re either trying to cut through that crowd where people maybe aren’t as attentive, but you’re also sometimes hiding behind the fact that people really aren’t paying attention because you’re not as confident with the material yet so. We were just in Europe doing some shows, and we were back in the basement doing bar shows, so you learn to figure out how to build the set to suit those situations. It’ll be interesting to see because I don’t know a whole lot about the Wildhorse Saloon.

What will fans see from you at the show?

You’ll see old material and new material, but it’s a really balanced set and I think it’s quite high energy. We’re of the ilk that, as the opening band, you like to keep things short and sweet and leave people wanting more.

How does it come about that you get to open for Sam Roberts Band?

We had a friend in Calgary who reached out to us with the offer. We didn’t submit or anything — it was kind of crazy.

Does your band get down to Calgary a lot?

We just did Sled Island, and prior to that we’ve come down quite a few times. In the past year we’ve probably played Calgary six or seven times.

Do you have a good fan base here?

We’ve had a tough go in Calgary. We played some good shows; we’ve played some bad shows. I guess Calgary’s a lot more forgiving for us because it’s so close. It’s bummer to drive to Vancouver and have a bad show. I don’t think any of us would do it if, a, we didn’t love it, or, b, know that every single Canadian band has done what we’re doing at this point.

How did you get the name? Is it an Alberta reference?

Altameda — yeah, it’s funny because that is a tongue in cheek part of it. That it’s the old abbreviation for Alberta, but it’s also a neighbourhood in California which was sort of the vibe that we were going for with our music, a sound that hearkens back to that Laurel Canyon scene of the ’70s where you had people like Jackson Browne and Carole King, but then you also had Canadians going down there, like Joni Mitchell and Neil Young. That era of music and lifestyle, even when you see photos, the colour palette, the textures, everything about it is very romantic.

Does that lo-fi feel carry into the music now that you’re making for your next album?

I think the music we’re making now is a big reflection on the people we’ve met over the past year. It’s so funny to play with different bands every time you go out on tour. Some bands stick with you and some bands don’t, and some of the bands we’ve met have just gotten exactly what it is that we’re trying to do. They get you turned onto different artists that they’re listening to and different guitar tones and different gear and different ways of thinking.

You’re creating that world around you like they did in 1970s Laurel Canyon.

It’s funny that the community that we’re building between the people that we know and the people that we love a lot happen to be on the other side of the country. I think that comes back to the Canadiana aspect — you’ve got this massive country that, if you want to do well in, you’re expected to do the trek across and that makes those relationships last. That you’re willing to drive three days across the country to see people you want to make music and art with.

Is there anything you like to get up to in Calgary when you visit?

I don’t know how much time we’ll get to take in the Stampede. I’ve never really been — I’m sure we’ll probably get into town and walk around and see what’s going on then load into the venue. Calgary’s got some of the best restaurants that I’ve ever been to, but when we were there last October we were taken on a tour of the National Music Centre, which was unbelievable.

Altameda is made up of vocalist and guitarist Troy Snaterse, bassist Todd Andrews, keyboardist Matt Kraus and drummer Erik Grice. They will be opening for Sam Roberts Band at the Wildhorse Saloon on Sunday July 9, 2017. Buy tickets here. Check out the band’s summer road trip playlist below!