Greg Rekus, now over a year and a half since the release of his third full-length album, Sibling Cities (grab it here), is currently embarking on a massive tour throughout Canada and the US. Infusing acoustic stylings and punk rock energy, the Winnipeg boy lends his raspy vocals to songs stuffed with anger, emotion and good ol’ Canadian heart. Joining us for an exclusive feature, Greg details a snapshot of his mind after beginning the three month tour in his hometown.
September 12, 2018:
– It’s pouring rain in Winnipeg MB and the crowd at Le Garage Café, aside from some close friends and maybe a few people who forgot their umbrellas, is virtually non-existent. Hoping this will just pass, but after almost twenty years and over a thousand shows, this is something you learn to live with. It rolls off your back like the rain as it raps against the windows and trickles down to join the puddles below. For me, it has always been about the stage and the show.
The fact that, after this long, I can still do this! Since I was a teenager, I knew that this is what I wanted to do. I was never much of a singer, and a hack at guitar at best, but I was able to put a few words and chords together. Somehow, through luck, a lot of hard work and several credit cards, I have found a way to travel the world playing music. What initially drew me to punk rock was its accessibility, and this is still one of my favourite things about it. Even the bigger acts a lot of the time are doing their own merch, driving their own van and setting up their own gear. They book their own tours, write their own songs and pull their own strings. They don’t answer to anyone.
Check out this Bridge City Sessions performance of “Sibling Cities”.
July 2018 marked eighteen months since the release of my third full-length album, Sibling Cities. This meant that, for the most part, the album had run its course and it was time for another release. With a new album not quite ready, and without the money to record it, it seemed the perfect time to finally release my second album, Punkoustic, on vinyl. Many of my friends and fans claim that that album is my best, but at the time of its release I was short on the moolah to press it onto vinyl and had to settle for a CD release only.
The artwork was done by local Winnipeg artist, Greg Oakes, and is phenomenal! Unfortunately, re-sizing the art to fit the CD meant that it ended up much smaller than the original image, which made it hard to see all the detail, as well as the bottom part had to be cut off. Greg was devastated, so I swore that one day I would press it onto vinyl to give his artwork the canvas it deserved, and that day has finally arrived!
Anyone who has ever tried to pull off a vinyl release knows that it takes a long time and there are a lot of steps to complete along the way. The person placing the order (me) has to be quick about answering e-mails and questions. However, punctuality isn’t exactly in my back pocket, and the records are going to arrive a bit late. Best case, the pressing plant will ship them on Tuesday from DC and they will meet me in Calgary on the following Thursday, about a week into my Fall 2018 tour.
The Wednesday before the records are set to arrive, I’m having a nail-biting drive from Edmonton to Canmore and am waiting for the tracking number. My phone beeps, so I check my e-mail. It’s them! I click the link and it brings me to a cancelled order. I panic. I start to rationalize a Vancouver shipping plan and google possible locations. I then write the shipping plant to find out what happened. As I near Calgary, I get a message from my friend Mikey who is playing drums with me for the Calgary show: the records arrived! Apparently, the plant screwed up their first attempt at the order and had to cancel and re-do it, and just sent me the wrong link. The vinyl had been shipped correctly and actually arrived a day early!
I imagine that most people would probably run screaming after two or three tours. Sane, rational people, I mean. When you hit your thirties it’s definitely time to hang it up and go on with life. “You didn’t make it, man! You tried! Time to be more realistic. You got a future after all, don’t risk throwing it away to chase a dream.” To this day people still give me the ol’ slap on the back and say “one day it’ll happen for you, you know? You’ll get rich and famous!” But I’m not a heavy sleeper and my eyes have been open for years.
There are no misconceptions regarding the level of my career, where it has been or where it’s going. Now don’t get me wrong. Knowing where the money is coming from for the next month’s bill is a very inviting concept but there is no free ride, especially when it comes to music. The easiest way to make a million dollars in the music industry is to start with two million. There is always something else you can spend money on and no shortage of people to wrestle away every last drop from you in some long, drawn-out record contract or percentage point detail in the fine print. Not really my game. It takes money to make money and people who have money rarely have it for long ‘cause they like to throw it around.
“The Mirror In My Favourite Bar”, it’s your best friend and your worst enemy.
The idea of being famous is a neat equation on paper, but like quantum physics in the real world it falls apart very quickly, leaving you with a bunch of nonsense. Being popular with friends is great (and I’ve always been lucky to have the best friends imaginable), but at some point, it spins wildly out of control, and you wouldn’t be able to do anything without someone tweeting about it.
Plus, there’s all the people that would wanna take a shot at me ‘cause it makes them feel good to cut someone down, that no matter how crappy of a person they might be at least they are better than me, etc. etc. That hat doesn’t fit my head either. Perhaps if I had a few #1 hit singles, my head would begin to swell uncontrollably. Maybe then I would have an entourage of people offering me a whole wardrobe of hats that would fit the ego of the day. But for now, I’m hatless.
I’m happy with what I have. I love the little tours I’m able to book, the small clubs I get to play and the galaxy of expressions on people’s faces as I jump up and down on a giant piece of wood and scream into a mic for forty-five minutes at a time. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t love a bit more success and $$$ to make life a bit easier, but when you get to the finish line in the foot race of life and you find out that there is no prize waiting for you, you have to realize that it was the journey itself, and all the friends you have made and inspired along the way, that is the biggest prize of all.