GOOD FOR GRAPES
November 22, 2015
Good For Grapes is a a folk-rock band based in Surrey, BC, Canada. The band consists of Daniel McBurnie (vocals, acoustic guitar), Graham Gomez (electric guitar, vocals), Alexa Unwin (piano, vocals), Robert Hardie (bass, vocals), Alex Hauka (cello), Greg McLeod (trombone, violin) and Will Watson (drums).
Winners of last year's PEAK Performance Project, Good For Grapes were the second to last band in the multi-million dollar project to win the biggest prize of $102,700. We caught up with Good For Grapes one year after their big win to see how they've progressed, what aspects of life after the PPP they didn't expect, their newest album The Ropes, and causes the band supports. Questions answered by Daniel McBurnie.
Daniel's Current Playlist:
1. The War On Drugs - Lost in the Dream
2. Royal Canoe - Today We're Believers
3. Tame Impala - Currents
4. Rubik - Solar
5. Half Moon Run - Sun Leads Me On
G: What is the biggest impact having won the PPP has had on the band over the past year?
DM: Winning the PPP pretty much shot us into fast-mode. Suddenly we had the cash and the support to do everything we needed to do; Record a new album, organize a couple big tours, record music videos. So honestly this past year has gone by incredibly fast. It feels like just last week we were on stage at the Commodore getting that over-sized cheque.
G: Do you have a piece of advice from being in the PPP that you could give to up-and-coming bands looking to make music their career?
DM: Of all the important lessons we learned through the project, I'd say the one that kind of falls over everything else is that you belong to a community, You can build a career by using and helping the musicians around you. It's not a competition because you're all trying to do the same thing. Make friends and help each other, because you never know when it will make the biggest difference.
G: What is one thing about life after the PPP that you didn’t expect?
DM: After idealizing the PPP for so long, I suppose I didn't expect that almost immediately after we won the satisfied, accomplished feeling that winning brought us would be swept aside by a sort of hungry ambition. To realize that the project is less of an accomplishment in itself, but a launchpad for your future accomplishments. I think we only realized that at the end, and then it became all about what was next.
G: Talking about the band’s creative process: Is there one person who writes or multiple? Do you have themes you like to cover lyrically often?
DM: In this band I (Daniel) write all the music and lyrics. I usually compose the music and maybe demo the songs a bit, but often times I get too excited and show the band before I demo and try to like act out all the different parts. It's probably pretty funny to watch actually, I think I get sorta manic. But after we've learned all the parts and harmonies that are there, we jam out and through playing the songs over and over new parts and frills get added in. Often things like tempo will change (and typically get faster). Lyrical themes usually change as I grow, but at least for this album I focused a lot more on love loss, and passion, and often found myself writing about the difficult choice of love vs passion. Like if you had to choose between a person and what made you tick. In that sense the album becomes sort of self aware, as the stuggles I write about sort of came into play during the writing/recording process of the album itself. There's a couple stories in the album that have nothing to do with me personally, but sometimes I just love to write from a stranger's perspective.
G: How has the reception been for The Ropes so far?
DM: It's hard for me to say because people don't usually trash-talk your album to your face, but in my experience the reception has been great. People are telling me the songs and sound have matured quite a bit. I'm really just happy it's out there now.
G: Do you have a favourite track off the album, or did you have a favourite to record?
DM: My favourite tracks on the album are probably Visions or Sorry Now. Gethsemane Blues was probably the most interesting to record.
G: Can you touch a bit on the tour you’re starting? A brief overview of where you’re going and what audiences can be expected in your performances?
DM: We just started a cross Canada tour (as I type this we're just heading to Winnipeg). We're going as far as Montreal and then back. This tour has been the most interesting performance-wise, because we have all these new songs and we're just starting to figure out how they fit in a live setting. It's a really fun process for us and the audience gets to see it go down. Mixing the old songs with the new has allowed us to build far better set-lists and more exciting shows.
G: Are there any causes the band is particularly passionate about? In an age with a lot of negative media, musicians can bring a lot of hope.
DM: In the past we've worked a lot with the homeless in Vancouver, particularly homeless youth. It's a huge problem and it's right on our doorstep. On the other hand, I strongly believe in the effort to bring refugees into Canada. Hate is a world-wide epidemic, and we have a responsibility to give aid if we claim to be part of, well, earth.
G: Well said. Thank you so much for talking with us!