“I was raised on a horse farm and I admittedly took it for granted,” admits Canadian cowboy Blake Berglund, who will release his stellar new record, Realms, on September 1st. “Growing up around that many horses instilled this kind of cowboy lifestyle. My grandfather was a rodeo cowboy, my brother is a rodeo cowboy, my father is an avid horseman, it’s just part of my life.”
Drawn to heavy metal and hard rock in his late teens, Berglund began his professional musicianship 13 years ago in touring bands; extensive travel and an upbringing in cowboy culture have shaped his worldview, and his love of 70s psychedelic rock and reverence for traditional country have shaped his sound. In 2015, Berglund, disgusted with the rampant apathy in the genre he holds dear, set out on a journey to discover the origins of good country music, to report about it—Hunter S. Thompson-style—and turn his findings into a book. “It’s sacred to me, what Willie Nelson was doing, what Kris Kristofferson was doing, what Ray Price was doing, what Bob Wills was doing, it’s such a wonderful history,” he says. “They evolved the genre but stayed true to the tradition and the spirit of everything it stood for. It’s American music. I’m a Canadian looking at it from the outside, but it’s very special to me.”
Today, Berglund unleashes “Moose Mountain,” a new single from the album in which our hero has recognized that things need to be done differently, that he isn’t as happy as he’d like to be, and that he needs to connect with his surroundings, so he goes for a horseback ride with a joint and loses his inhibitions. “It doesn’t get more grounding than to jump on a horse’s back and head out and be at one with nature. Whatever you need to do in order to connect more strongly with that, I’m a supporter. We are in the process of legalizing marijuana in Canada, and I’m an advocate. It’s something I prescribe to, pardon the pun,” he laughs.
“You’ve got to be true to yourself, and I’ve found this interesting place in music where I could honor the cowboy lifestyle and blend it with my influences of Pink Floyd and The Doors and Marty Stuart,” he says. “I’m a believer in oral tradition; our culture was founded on the concept of being able to tell a story, and that’s what I’m doing with this record,” he continues. “Realms is a concept record that tells the story of the breadth of human experience.”