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Alt country duo Altameda releases new album 'Born Losers'


Erik Grice and Troy Snaterse are both from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. They now play music as Altameda, based in Toronto. On their new album, "Born Losers," much of the music, like lots of all kinds of music, is about longing to get out of town and go someplace down the road.


ALTAMEDA: (Singing) Born losers at the turnpike gates, their dreams coming undone. Come on, baby, let me know your name, and let's leave this town in a trail of dust.

SIMON: Erik Grice and Troy Snaterse join us now from Toronto. Thanks so much for being with us.

ERIK GRICE: Thank you so much for having us.

TROY SNATERSE: Thanks for having us.

SIMON: Let's listen to some of what I found a very arresting song, "Nightmare Town."


ALTAMEDA: (Singing) Baby, let's burn it down. I can't stand the sound of this nightmare town, this nightmare town. Meet me down by the pylons tonight, down by that river full of shopping carts.

SIMON: Down by that river full of shopping carts, where the beauty ends and all the madness starts. Troy Snaterse, where did this song come from in your imagination or experience?

SNATERSE: At the time that I wrote it, my girlfriend and I had been, you know, talking about - she showed me the movie "Badlands," the Terrence Malick movie.

SIMON: We should explain that "Badlands," of course, is based on the real-life story of Charles Starkweather, who went on a murder spree in the 1950s.

SNATERSE: Yeah, exactly. So, you know, obviously, like, there's - taking this sort of violent aspect out of it, I feel like just, like, I found the desperation in their situation to be compelling and maybe something that I could insert myself into from, like, a - writing from a character standpoint.


ALTAMEDA: (Singing) This nightmare town.

SIMON: Do you think that you can put something of Edmonton into your music that a lot of other musical acts just don't have, Erik Grice?

GRICE: I mean, I think when you grow up here and you - as you write music from that standpoint of whether or not you're in the city or you're leaving the city or maybe you love the city or you hate the city, I think that that kind of relationship with it definitely imparts a lot of itself into the song. You know, like, the fact that you mentioned that one line about the river full of shopping carts - I mean, growing up just outside of Edmonton, that - you know, my summer job when I was in - university student was quite literally fishing shopping carts out of the river that ran through our town. Being somewhere for that long certainly has an effect on you. And I think that that's a relatable thing with everybody's hometown.


ALTAMEDA: (Singing) Bought a dead man's suit in Denver. Then I wore it on the stage. Got me thinking about impermanence, how everything dies with age.

SIMON: What does your music and performance and the gift you have - what does it mean to you to be able to do, particularly during what I understand have been some difficult times?

GRICE: Yeah. I mean, I've kind of always felt a lot more comfortable creating something on stage with a group of like-minded people. We're just kind of - really, I think with this record hitting a stride sonically and the content that Troy is putting into that, the lyrics and the songs themselves is - you know, is just growing and getting better and better. You know, like, the personal aspect of it is something I think Troy can probably speak to a little bit better, but that's sort of how it feels for me.

SIMON: Troy, Troy Snaterse, you - well, you had to live through a lot of personal loss recently, didn't you?

SNATERSE: Yeah. Yeah, it was - yeah, my dad suffered a pretty serious stroke. He was in a coma for a couple of weeks and, you know, miraculously came out of it. And then my stepbrother, who was 18 at the time, ended up passing away maybe a week later in a motor vehicle accident. It's sort of - that dichotomy between being obviously extremely relieved that my, you know, dad had pulled through and then having my 18-year-old stepbrother pass away - you know, it just sort of had me considering why maybe some people are given a second chance and some people aren't. And it also had me considering my own mortality and what I was sort of going after in life with music and everything else. And yeah, it was just very informative to a lot of this record.

SIMON: When I looked into the song "Just Me & You" - we're going to hear a little of it now.


ALTAMEDA: There's nothing I wouldn't do for you. After everything that we've been through, you know we got to...

SIMON: I thought that could be a song, Troy Snaterse, for either your father or your stepbrother or both.

SNATERSE: Absolutely. Yeah, it was actually for my brother, my blood-brother. It was just when we were kind of going through that entire experience, we realized that, you know, we were kind of going through it alone. And if my dad wouldn't have pulled through, then, you know, we would have just been sort of on our own. And so I wrote it as sort of a love song to him.


ALTAMEDA: (Singing) There's nothing I wouldn't do for you after everything that we've been through.

SIMON: Altameda's Erik Grice and Troy Snaterse, thanks so much for being with us. Good luck to both of you.

GRICE: Yeah, I really appreciate it. Thank you so much.

SNATERSE: Thank you so much for having us. It's been an honor.


ALTAMEDA: (Singing) It's just me and you. You know we got to try to make it through. And now I know why. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Scott Simon
Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.