It all started in a Steinbach high school. Bucky Driedger and Matt Schellenberg were buddies who enjoyed playing music together. Now the six-member band, Royal Canoe, is up for a JUNO in the Best Alternative Album category for their sophomore album Today We're Believers.

"It's validating, for sure," said Schellenberg, about the nomination. "We're very excited. But it's something we take in stride. We're proud that something on this level, something even this mainstream, is choosing to validate what we do."

"It's going to be fun to be part of the festivities," added Driedger.

The band has been together in this configuration for three and a half years. They just knew the lineup was right when they started performing more and selling out houses.

"I think there's some intangible quality to something like music where you just know or feel like what you're doing is worth it, or right, or good," said Driedger.

"I think you have to sometimes wade through a lot of things and stumble through a lot of things to get to that, and when you get there, you just know."

Despite being fans of a lot of music from away, the musicians are very conscious being Canadian and being from Manitoba.

"I don't think we could have made this record in a different city," said Driedger.

He points to seasonal shifts and how they affect the psyche as helping to shape their sound. Not to mention that Winnipeg is an affordable place to live and to have a jam studio.

Royal Canoe's Matt Peters and Ismaila Alfa

Royal Canoe's Matt Peters chats with Up to Speed host Ismaila Alfa (Andrea Ratuski/CBC)

"You can afford to have time to work on things and have time to be creative and make mistakes and write 150 songs to make an 11-song record," said Driedger.

Fortunately, with six members in the band, there are lots of sounding boards and opinions to help whittle down the selection.

And what would a JUNO win mean? 

"In the end, from a business standpoint and a creative standpoint, you just want more people to listen to your music. Any chance to facilitate that is just great," said Driedger. 

Royal Canoe performs with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra as part of JUNOfest  at Centennial Concert Hall on March 28 and 29 at 8 p.m. and Sunday March 30 at 2 p.m. The concert is called Manitoba Rocks! They'll be joined by Imaginary Cities, Nathan Music Co. and The Lytics. 

Royal Canoe is nominated for a JUNO for best Alternative Album.