Eamon McGrath strives to build a music community

For an emerging independent musician, Canada can be a hard beast to tame. Booking expansive tours, inspiring diverse audiences, and traversing long distances in a dirty van are just some of the challenges to meet if you want to make it.

However, at the age of 20, with a couple of national swings and two impressive albums under his belt, Edmonton punk savant Eamon McGrath is coming closer to mastering the game.Over the last three years he’s been recording and playing live incessantly, offering an unrestrained rendering of punk that’s as influenced as much by his love for Black Flag as his penchant for old-timey blues and experimental noise music.

Released in 2008, McGrath’s debut album Wild Dogs was a conscious distillation of these influences. 13 Songs of Whiskey and Light, his new disc for Vancouver-cum-Toronto label White Whale, collects McGrath’s most raucous, and most intimate, songs from a prolific collection of almost 20 independent releases on Edmonton imprint Cassette Records.

Fiercely DIY to this point in his career, McGrath sees working with the label as a step forward in connecting with a larger audience.

“I did Wild Dogs 100-percent completely on my own,” he recounts, over the phone from Toronto tour stop. “It was as independent as it gets, and the response was great. Now I’ve got help from this label.”

McGrath figures White Whale will give him an opportunity to expose his material to other up-and-coming acts. “The way I see it, a music scene should be a tight-knit community of friends, a set of artists working together to expose the art that each other is making,” says McGrath. “Everyone helping each other out, everyone blazing trails. The music scene grows and the number of people who start bands grows.”

During their upcoming weeklong stay in our town, McGrath and tour mates the City Streets will make use of a valuable connection. They’re planning to hook up with New Pornographers bassist and producer John Collins to record a brand new album at his notable JC/DC Studios.

“The City Streets are on the road with me right now, and they’re playing as my backing band every night,” McGrath says. “We’re treating the tour as a rehearsal for this next record. It’s gonna be a twin-guitar-attack record, all recorded live off the floor. I want it to have the geographic sound of a heavy punk-rock Canada.”

Eamon McGrath and the City Streets play the Met Pub on Sunday (May 17).