Graven and Ali McCormick: Q & A

Ali and GravenWhat was the most memorable moment of your recent tour?

Graven: The most memorable moment for me was returning to Twin Butte, seeing the amazing owners (Jenny and Phil) of the general store, and playing a song that I wrote about the town – that place is a magical spot, I’m sure for Ali too – but there is something really mystical about that mountain-meeting-prairie badlands area of Canada. It really renewed and refreshed me.

Ali: This is a two pronger. Deciding to drive in Northern Ontario at night. Seeing what has to be one of the largest land mammals cross in front of the car. More of a leisurely walk than run. This moose scared the poop out of me! See, the lads were sleeping and I thought we could make time night-driving to Manitoba. Never again. But it was memorable because it was probably the biggest hit of adrenaline on the tour, one of those life-flashing-before-your-eyes moments. We pulled over in no mans land three hours west of Thunder Bay and had to rocket to Prairie Wind Music Festival at the crack of crow next day.

twin butteThe other moment was in Twin Butte when Graven and I played two songs individually inspired by our previous times with Jenny, Phil, Kass and the Twin Butte gang. There were hoots, hollers and tears all around for the love of that beauty spot.

Do some of your tunes get more love in certain cities than others?

Graven: With my tunes, I am not big enough to distinguish where they are more or less loved – I just focus on if anyone claps at all, outside of my parents, and if that happens, I call it a bonus. I think Western Canada seems a little more open to up and coming music at times, but the Ottawa valley is a hidden gem. I like writing about this area, and people seem to get into my geographically obsessed tuneage.

mountainsAli: Yeah, tunes totally get different love in different towns. It all depends on the audience, the main industries, the locations…take for instance ‘Calgary Goodbye’. That song got a lot of love from Calgarians and Albertans everywhere. Another old song of mine talks about lighting a fire and letting it burn…with the rise in devastating forest fires I sometimes knock that one off a set if I think it’s gonna hit too close to home.

If you had to trade your guitar playing ability for the same skill in another instrument what would you choose ?
graven guitarGraven:
I’ve always really wanted to be an amazing drummer – and I play enough to get by – but I think if I could go back, I would have focused on drums. Really good drummers are always busy! Really good guitarists work at Starbucks.

Mine would be sitar. I would love to be a mediocre sitar player.

Graven: Sitar is also a good choice, Adrian. I feel like you would be tech savvy enough to create a new social media platform all about that very eastern, beautiful sounding instrument. Perhaps you could call it… Twitar?

Ali: Yeah, great idea with the sitar. That is on my list too but a few back.  As far as different instruments, I’ve also always had a strong love for drum kits. In another life I’d have been a drummer in a rock band I suspect. The odd jam show you’ll see me behind the drums and I always wish I was better.

What would you say you’ve picked up musically from one another?

Ali: As musicians, artists – people in general – we all take from our experiences in relationships, whether we admit it or not. I’ve taken a lot of my times with the Gravenator. He’s chill. He compliments my fevered approach in life with a calm addition to the operation. He also was a huge help on my first two tours, bringing with him knowledge of the road that came in handy for this young cat.

One of the most valuable things from Graven? Encouragement in self confidence as an artist. He has brought me back up from the woeful moments quite a few times. Why did I decide to be a starving artist? “Nobody will listen anyways”… “I missed that deadline” … “I have to cancel but don’t want to let people down.” Basically Graven helped me stop hitting myself on the head so much.

Graven: From Ali, I’ve definitely appreciated her workhorse, go-at-em’-24/7 spirit. She never stops, she always writes and never lets herself get stagnant. She pushes herself to the limit for her music, she’s a live show playin’ n’ tourin’ banshee, and she only rests if she absolutely must. She’s the real deal.

Graven + Ali McCormik + Doug Wallace @ Pressed August 12th , 9 pm


Adrian Gregorich

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