As High Valley, brothers Brad and Curtis Rempel have been making music together since they were kids, but they’ve just started to catch fans’ fancy with their driving breakout single “Make You Mine.” Now touring with Martina McBride, Brad, 32, and Curtis, 26, released Dear Life, their first album on the Warner Music label, on Friday.
Here are five things to know about High Valley (besides the fact that — sigh — they are very easy on the eyes).
1. They grew up north of the middle of nowhere
Two of six children (three boys, three girls), the brothers were raised in the tiny Mennonite farming community of La Crete in northern Alberta, Canada. Both were driving combines on the family’s 1,400 acres by the time they turned 12. “All the farmland was forest, and my grandpa and dad took down all the trees,” Curtis explains.
“We grew up picking the tree roots that were still in the ground,” then burning them in bonfires. “We never knew bonfires were supposed to be cool and sexy until we moved to Nashville,” Brad says. “We thought it was pretty much just work.”
2. Brad Rempel named the band – when he was 5 years old
That’s when he started taping a pretend radio show on a cassette recorder his parents gave him. “I had weather, sports, commercials,” Brad recalls. “I introduced the band and the song, and the band was always High Valley.”
The name was the natural choice when Brad first assembled a band, at age 12, with his other brother, Bryan, and several friends, and it stuck over the years as the band evolved into a brotherly trio and then a duo. (Bryan left the group in 2014 to raise his family in La Crete.)
3. Their country sound is infused with what they call “pop-grass”
High Valley’s musical roots are bluegrass, and “after years of chasing what was out there and trying to follow the [country] trends, we just said forget it,” Brad says — and they returned to those roots. “Make You Mine” epitomizes the hybrid sound, which emerged in a studio “tug of war” with their pop producer. “We’re coming at him with dobros and banjos and mandolins, and he’s saying, ‘How about if we do this in the chorus, and make it more singalong, more catchy?’ ” Brad says. “That’s finally when it started firing on all cylinders.”
4. They know how to splurge — sort of
Like so many up-and-coming artists, they each bought a new set of wheels after they signed their Warner contract in 2015. Well, that would be “new” to them. Brad found a Jeep at auction with a bad transmission that he plans to rebuild. Curtis purchased a 1994 faded-red Dodge Dakota pickup that he spotted on Craigslist. It’s notable for a ceiling that’s been reupholstered with fabric featuring Elvis Presley’s face. “It’s the most rare, amazing thing I’ve ever found, and I love it so much,” Curtis says.
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5. Brad is the serious one. Curtis is the fun one
“We’re yin and yang,” Brad says. Says Curtis: “Brad makes sure business is taken care of, and I try to make sure people are laughing and having fun.” Among the ways he can do that? Juggling, a skill he shows off on the “Make You Mine” video. Curtis says he bought his first juggling balls as a kid and “practiced for weeks and weeks.” Adds Brad: “Can you tell we didn’t have TV growing up?”