Edmonton-based singer-songwriter, Eamon McGrath is touring Canada to celebrate his soon-to-be-released new album and book. McGrath has just returned from a five-show tour out east with July Talk.
Since the age of 11, McGrath has been playing music. His first band was in his hometown of Edmonton, and was called the Morellos. McGrath launched this in seventh grade.
McGrath recounts the Morellos first show, when he and his bandmate were asked to play at the Global Visions Film Festival in Edmonton. The show took place in the basement of the Stanley Milner Library.
When their parents let them take the day off school to perform, the two excitedly set off to perform their first live show. Looking back, McGrath believes the organizers hadn’t anticipated what kind of music punk brought with it.
“It was this thrashy, loud punk band in the basement of a library,” said McGrath with a laugh. “At the time we thought we were super punk because our show got shut down…”
Even after this bomb-show, the two were not dismayed. They continued to play shows throughout different areas of Edmonton, and this became more consistent over the years.
In 2007 they released their Pink Film record, and shortly after, toured this album across Canada. At the time, McGrath was 18.
When McGrath was 16, he was simultaneously listening to the hardest punk rock and black metal he could find, as well as the quietest folk and country music. He appreciated both genres for different reasons.
McGrath especially enjoyed The Replacements and The Clash, an American rock band and English punk band. He loved how a band such as The Replacements contained a thrashy punk side, and also a tenderness that came along with their storytelling.
Growing up, music was the only thing on McGrath’s mind.
“I’ve never had another goal, I’ve only ever wanted to play music,” said McGrath, who went to university for a few years, which only reaffirmed that there was nothing else he was put on the earth to do besides play music. In 2010 he left school and moved to Toronto.
McGrath is a musician, as well as an author. The recent completion of his first book, Berlin – Warszawa Express, motivated him to tour the country and promote it. The book is published by ECW Press and will be available on May 10.
July Talk lead singer, Peter Dreimanis, was instrumental in the creation of McGrath’s book. Their history together stems back to childhood.
“He sort of pushed me to see it through,” said McGrath. “I’d never done it before, never written a book, never tried to make it a thing.
“I didn’t really know if it was anything. He (Dreimanis) read it and he was like, dude this is something worth exploring. I think you need to develop it more.”
The book contains stories of McGrath’s extensive tours in Europe.
Within the bindings of his book, McGrath attempts to answer the age-old question of whether someone should suffer for the sake of their art.
Comparing himself as a musician to what he was 10 years ago in his early twenties, McGrath believes he has abandoned the thrashy, hard-core punk aspect of his music and focused more on the art of songwriting. He feels less attracted to the act of jumping around on stage, being wasted all the time and making extremely transgressive art. However, the modern-day McGrath doesn’t wish to diminish that art form.
“My interest in really simplistic, loud, monotonous, one-dimensional things, has lessened,” said McGrath. “I want to be less about a barrage of sound and energy, and more about focusing that into something a little more delicate.”
Instead of getting a group of people together and rehearsing once before a show, McGrath has come to see the importance of planning in order to tell stories well. This is why his current group is different than bands in the past.
For his upcoming show in Fernie, McGrath will be bringing Darrek Anderson of Edmonton-based country band, The Dungarees, to play pedal steel and electric guitar. Also on the tour will be Lee Klippenstein of Edmonton punk band, Slates, who will be playing bass guitar. Jerf Sebastian of the early-2000s Vancouver-based band, The Doers, will be playing the drums.
McGrath believes the life of a musician doesn’t come with a retirement plan, but he doesn’t mind. He simply hopes the years to come allow him to continue touring. He hopes to finish his second book, which is still a work in progress. He would also love to get his next record out by the end of 2018.
“That’s what you strive for, is to be constantly working,” said McGrath. “You can’t be a musician without playing music. An artist has to always be making art.”
McGrath will be sharing his stories on May 12 at The Northern Pub, before returning to the east and then setting out on a 29-show tour throughout eastern-Europe.