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Royal Canoe, making them believe

Winnipeg band’s album Today We’re Believers nominated for Juno

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Matt Peters of Royal Canoe outside his Point Douglas home. Royal Canoe is nominated for Alternative Album of the Year at the 2014 Juno Awards in Winnipeg.

PHOTO BY JARED STORY Enlarge Image

Matt Peters of Royal Canoe outside his Point Douglas home. Royal Canoe is nominated for Alternative Album of the Year at the 2014 Juno Awards in Winnipeg. Photo Store

Matt Peters was half asleep when he found out his band, Royal Canoe, was nominated for a 2014 Juno Award.

"I was in bed and I rolled over and there was a tweet from Manitoba Music saying ‘Congrats to Royal Canoe getting nominated for Alternative Album of the Year.’ I was totally surprised," Peters said.

Royal Canoe’s latest offering, Today We’re Believers, is up against albums from Arcade Fire, Rah Rah, The Darcys and Yamantaka//Sonic Titan. The hardware will be handed out on Sat., March 29 at the RBC Convention Centre during the untelevised Saturday night gala.

Peters, who is joined in Royal Canoe by Matt Schellenberg, Bucky Driedger, Brendan Berg, Derek Allard and Michael Jordan, has been nominated for a Juno before. Back in 2005, his former band, The Waking Eyes, was nominated for New Group of the Year. Coincidentally, those Junos were also held in Winnipeg.

"It’s special that it’s in Winnipeg," said Peters, 33, who is originally from Steinbach but now lives in Point Douglas.

"I think if it was in Montreal or Saskatoon it might not be as special, but because it’s here it gives it a little extra ‘oomph.’"

Speaking of extra "oomph," Royal Canoe, alongside fellow Winnipeg bands Imaginary Cities, Nathan Music Co. and The Lytics, will join forces with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra for Manitoba Rocks! from March 28 to 30 at the Centennial Concert Hall.

"It’s kind of a dream to get an opportunity to do that (play with the WSO)," Peters said. "That’s what’s really cool about our city. They (the WSO) make an effort to integrate musicians from the pop, indie, rock, country, all those worlds that don’t necessarily mingle with the classical world, especially in other cities, and they’re making efforts to do some cross-pollination."

Peters said Royal Canoe has been pollinating throughout Canada, with its commitment to touring starting to show some real results.

"When we were in Calgary recently, we actually sold out a 500 capacity room, which is an awesome feeling," said Peters, who estimates the band has played Cowtown 12 times.

"We’ve seen that happen in Winnipeg, where we played the Lo Pub, then the Park Theatre and slowly people start rallying around us. We’ve had amazing support here in Winnipeg, but you never know if that’s just a hometown thing. How many cousins can you have? So to see it somewhere else, that’s really exciting from a business side and just the chance for as many people as possible to hear our music."

Royal Canoe will soon be playing 500 to 1,200 capacity venues. In April and May, the group will support British band Bombay Bicycle Club throughout the U.S. and Canada.

Perhaps a Juno win would mean Royal Canoe could play 1,200 cap venues on its own. Of course, that would mean beating Arcade Fire, which is up for a whopping six Junos.

"I would be very surprised if they lost," Peters said. "The only thing I can think of is maybe the Junos will decide they have enough awards. Maybe the person making the decisions will be like ‘I’m tired of putting this X by Arcade Fire. Who is this other band? Royal Canoe? OK, fine.’"

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