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20 Questions With Alex Runions

The Canadian country singer talks TikTok, BBQ & mispronouncing up his own name.

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Photo by Dustin Veitch Photography.

Earlier this summer, Canadian country singer Alex Runions released his latest single Take It Out On Me. Today, the rising star lives up to the title of that single by punishing himself with my ridiculous questions. Fortunately, he’s clearly a man who knows how to take it:

 


 

Introduce yourself: Name, age (feel free to lie), home base and other details you’d like to share — height / weight / identifying marks / astrology sign / your choice.
My name is Alex Runions, felt like I was 25 for the last 10 years until this year, when I felt my real age for the first time. I grew up in a small town in Saskatchewan named Kipling after the famous author, Rudyard Kipling. The town constructed a sign in my honour, which I am always very grateful for. My parents are still there, and I love getting back home to visit them.

What is your musical origin story?
I’ll try to be quick on this one. I used to walk to school and make up songs on the way for some reason; I thought it was normal, but maybe it wasn’t? I just loved to do it. I would also pretend to have concerts in my basement and check periodically to make sure someone wasn’t coming downstairs to save me from the embarrassment. Through my teen years, I was in a pop-rock band and that is where I started writing songs, I fell in love with it and coming up with melodies and lyrics that meant something to me at the time. I was kicked out of the band for not having a “rock” enough voice which turned out to be the best thing for me at the time … back then, it was devastating. After that, I made the decision to go at it myself and get back to my roots in country music and started working towards a solo career and aligning myself with the best in the biz. It’s been a great journey when I take the time to look back.

What’s your latest project? Tell us everything we need to know.
I recently released a song called Take it Out on Me, which was written by some big names out in Nashville. I had a management deal in Nashville a few years back and we were looking for outside songs at the time. John Ozier, who is one of the writers, had pitched this song to us. We instantly loved it out of the 40 songs that were sent our way. I love the passion and power dynamics of the song and how the female is in the power position — it makes it unique. It also fit in melodically with my other songs that I had written and released. Unfortunately, not all of the publishing companies signed off on me recording this song. When I decided to release another one, I checked back on this track and sure enough, all of the writers and publishing companies signed off on this one. So here we are, four years later and finally getting this out to the public! I recorded this in Saskatoon with Bart McKay, who is a multi-award-winning producer who I recorded my first album with back in 2009.

What truly sets you apart from other artists?
I think it might be my voice. I’ve never had vocal lessons and I never thought I had anything that special until I realized I wasn’t singing the baritone country songs that most of my male peers were. I was slightly embarrassed about that and eventually embraced it. I love singing to Vince Gill, Colin Raye & Rascal Flatts for that reason and I love hitting the big notes in the original keys of the songs. It’s nice to still challenge myself to sing songs that others may not be able to.

What album / song / artist / show changed your life?
Seeing Vince Gill perform at 3rd & Lindsley in Nashville, TN was pretty amazing. I will have to say that Donovan Woods’ concert in Regina and then again in Saskatoon was pretty much the exact type of concert I love and his songs really pull on the heartstrings. His band is great, and I love all of his songs and have since his first album, which was the soundtrack to my university years. I also have to say that Brooks & Dunn in Vegas hit me harder than I thought it would. I grew up listening to them and to see them in concert was amazing, I kept getting emotional through the whole thing.

Tell us about the first song you wrote and / or the first gig you played and what you got paid.
Once I was pursuing a solo career, I started writing on my own and wrote a song called The Open Road. I released it back in 2005 and really didn’t have much traction with it, but it is a safe and nice-sounding song. It’s nothing amazing but I think it was a good song out of the gates. My first show as a solo artist was in a small town about 20 minutes away from my hometown. The paper advertised that I was a “one-man band” rather than an acoustic act … I always thought that was funny. As far as payment, I would assume I got $100 or something like that.

What is the best / worst / strangest / most memorable performance you gave?
The band was very new, we didn’t even have a drummer at the time and someone booked us. We really went to the show without a drummer!!? I think, in the back of my mind, I was trying to pass it off as an acoustic type of show. We had guitar, fiddle, keys and bass. We were also new and unrehearsed. I recall trying to be affable with the crowd and getting no response. It was for a bunch of oilfield workers and I was even a little worried for our safety by the end of the night. It was odd and the worst experience I’ve had.

What is the best / worst / strangest / most memorable performance you’ve seen another artist give?
I was blown away by Neal McCoy at Big Valley Jamboree. His band was so tight, and he was calling the songs as he went. It was a very high-energy show and Neal was such a nice guy.

What living or dead artists would you collaborate with if you could?
Without a doubt, it would be Vince Gill.

What artist or style of music do you love that would surprise people?
I love R&B music outside of country music, namely Boyz II Men. I used to sing to all their songs and I still do!

What are your favourite songs / albums / artists right now?
I am loving a lot of female artists songs and albums right now. I feel like they’re pushing the envelope with thoughtful music and lyrics. Some of my faves right now are:
Caylee HammackSmall Town Hypocrite
Donovan WoodsClean Slate
Dave BarnesBe With You, Take me Back to Nashville
Maddie & TaeDie From a Broken Heart

How about some other favourites? Authors / movies / painters / philanthropists / you name it.
I love sci-fi movies. Interstellar is one of my favourite movies. I also am a huge Seinfeld fan and could probably answer any quiz questions about it. I am currently reading a book written by Keith Macpherson, who is a co-writer on one of my songs. The book is titled Making Sense of Mindfulness and it is a great read.

Who would you be (or have you been) starstruck to meet?
Surprisingly, Neal McCoy at Big Valley Jamboree. We were performing the Kick-Off Party with him and Jerrod Niemann. Neal hopped out of his tour bus and said, “Hey, you’re Alex Runions, how you doing?” I was in shock he knew my name and came out to say hi. I am so used to people messing my name up that I instinctively corrected him, but I said my own last name wrong! My bandmate was right there and said “Alex, are you OK?” It was about the worst first impression I could make on a guy that I look up to. All is good, though, I highly doubt he remembers the exchange. He went on to put on one of the most energetic shows I have ever watched in my life.

Tell us a joke.
My go-to is and always will be “dad jokes”. The first one that comes to mind is: Q: What did the father Buffalo say to his son when he went off to college? A: “Bison.”

What do you drive and why? What do you want to drive and why?
I drive a 2019 Dodge Ram that is “blacked out”, so there is no chrome on it. I just bought it this June. My fiancée, Erin and I found that we needed a truck more and more often while doing garden/yard and home renos. This is the exact truck I wanted, and I love it. I’ve never been in a position to own a truck, so I am quite happy I purchased it.

What superpower do you want and how would you use it?
Oddly enough, I would love to be able to fly. I am scared of heights, but I think if it is my superpower, I would know my limits and not be scared. I think it would be so peaceful to be able to fly.

What do you collect?
Coffee mugs from places that I have travelled to! I love coffee and I love to travel, so I thought it makes sense and is kind of practical (until I have too many).

If I had a potluck, what would you bring?
Ribs. I love to BBQ & I entered a rib-off contest one year and got third place using my mom’s homemade BBQ sauce recipe. I was quite proud.

What current trend or popular thing do you not understand at all?
TikTok. Don’t we have enough social media platforms? I suppose I will eventually have to learn and use it.

Tell us about your current and/or former pets.
I love my pets. They’re all rescue animals and basically run our lives. We have a nine-year-old Husky-Lab mix named Kinsey, her best friend is our 4.5-year-old Beagle named Franklin and his arch-nemesis is our nine-year-old cat named Oliver.

Watch Take It Out On Me above, hear more from Alex Runions below, and visit him at his website, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

 

Photo by Dustin Veitch Photography.