For the last seven years, Molly Rankin has been busy making music with her band Alvvays. But music has played a significant role in her life since she was born. Before their two sold out shows at the Starlite Room, Molly called into SONiC to chat about The Rankin Family, her own band and sneakers.

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Molly of Alvvays Talks Being A Member Of The Rankin Family

Originally Aired: March 22, 2018

Read through the interview below.


So you’re in a band now, but you grew up in a very musical household, is that fair to say? 

That’s definitely fair to say, I grew up around a lot of fiddle tunes.

Cause your dad was in The Rankin Family, a six-time Juno award winning band. My grandpa is a big fan.

Exactly! Yes, I feel like they’ve had a significant impact on many people’s childhoods.

That would have had to have impacted you musically. 

Yeah, I think that maybe it made me feel like it was possible to be able to pick up an instrument and noodle around on it without thinking it was scary.

Did that normalize the music industry for you? 

For me, I firsthand saw how difficult it was to thrive in the music industry, so for me, I was not attracted to that life whatsoever, it’s just sorta something I felt. Everything else sorta failed for me and I would always come back to music.

Did you ever perform with them? 

Yeah, I did a tour with them when they did a reunion tour across Canada and I think we played in Edmonton.

Would that have been your first taste of being on stage? 

With their band yes, but I did a fair amount  in high school and in junior high. I’d play the fiddle at a lot of community centers as a kid, and [bandmate] Carrie did too. We both played piano, we both played the fiddle. We spent a lot of our teens and pre-teens going to square dances.

Keeping you out of trouble. Was the plan always to pursue music? 

Absolutely not. I had a lot of fun writing songs as a teen but when I was younger I don’t think I had any aspirations to do so, it was more focused on working with animals. I really wanted to be a veterinarian.

You mentioned writing songs as a teenager, did any of those become anything, either solo career or with Alvvays? 

I don’t think so, no. I remember when I was little, when I was really young I wrote a song and it ended up on one of the Rankin Family CDs. I think it got used for an airline ad or something.

Did you ever see any of those royalty cheques? 

Oh yeah definitely, I feel like that covered my beer money for years!

Alvvays started in 2011, you’ve released two albums now, and I have a question about a song on the first record. At the beginning of “Archie, Marry Me“, you hear birds chirping. Did you record real birds? 

I think it’s just a stock sound… Don’t tell anyone! But I know [our producer] Chad Vangaalen does a lot of that, if you’re looking for a Western musician to incorporate the train track noises.

Any significance to the bird noises? 

I don’t know, it seemed like an outside the box idea to narrow right to the beginning of the song without anyone speaking or anything really substantial going on. Sometime’s it’s fun to find sound effects and throw it on top of something and see how it lands.

You recorded your first album right down the highway in Calgary. Why record in Calgary and not Toronto or further east where you guys call home?  

Well, we had moved to Toronto and I had some people in mind whose work I liked, whose production I liked. Chad had a studio in Calgary and that seemed like the only option. So we booked some flights and hoped for the best.

Now a question about a song off the new album. In “Plimsoll Punks”, what’s a plimsoll? 

Oh yeah! So a plimsoll is a white boating sneaker.

Come again?? 

Our keyboardist Kerri MacLellan is the fashion plate in our band and she usually has the correct term, or the romantic term, for most pieces of clothing and she had been referring to her sneakers as plimsolls. We had also normally worn a lot of white sneakers in our adolescence and still do, and I think she had always referred to them as plimsolls. I just thought it was a fun word.

So is that song kind of written about you guys? 

Sure! It’s kinda just a commentary on authenticity. It’s kinda about laughing at one’s self – and others as well.

This is pretty bonkers, but just yesterday, Selena Gomez posted a video to Instagram using your song “Dreams Tonite”!

Oh yeah, my mom told me about this!

Did you know she was a fan? 

No, I don’t really follow her, but she seems like a nice person.

Have you had any other surprising fans? 

Sometimes people’s who’s records we adore will come to the shows we play. We had a chance to meet a couple people at our shows and we were really excited to meet them like [members] of The Pastels and Tracyanne Campbell of Camera Obscura.

Do you know those people are in the crowd ahead of time?

Sometimes, but I usually get a little nervous anyways. I don’t really ever drink before a show or take anything to artificially relax me so I’m usually a little on edge, and sometimes that works well in a performance.  But yeah, I just try not to think about it.

Do you guys have a pre-show ritual? 

No, we actually don’t! Sometimes we’ll put on a 70’s punk song and I’ll dancer around to that… I’ve seen other bands do little handshakes but I’m not very superstitious so we don’t really do that.


Both Alvvays shows are sold out, but keep an eye HERE for additional tickets!

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