Wakey!Wakey!‘s new record “Almost Everything I Wish I’d Said the Last Time I Saw You…” officially came out today (March 16) on The Family Records and lead singer and songwriter Michael Grubbs took some time to sit down with us to discuss the new album, his upcoming SXSW appearances and his burgeoning acting career.
1. The title of your new album “Almost Everything I Wish I’d Said the Last Time I Saw You” sounds like it’s a line from a break-up. Is this a break-up record?
MG: I prefer to think of it as a recovery album. There are elements of lost love in it, but in reality it’s the story of what happens after the break up.
2. Because you’ve made a couple of live records (“Silent As A Movie” and “Live at The Bowery Ballroom”), I associate your music with a sort of raw live sound, but this record has a more polished sound, is this the way you’ve always wanted to record your songs?
MG: Absolutely. I love capturing a live show and the raw energy of it all, but in real life I’m a little bit too much of a control freak for that to be the only statement I make.
3. What was the state of the new songs on “Almost Everything…” before you came into the studio, had you played a lot of them live already? Or were they more like demos that you worked up on in the studio?
MG: They were all in different states. Some were completely done, and a few were missing a verse here or there. My favorite was “Light Outside”. It wasn’t even supposed to be on the album. When we realized the scope of the release, we realized we needed some more material for bonus tracks and such. I’ve always worked best under pressure, so I just sat down and wrote it the night before we went into the studio. It’s turned out to be our first radio single.
More Wakey! Wakey! Mercury Lounge pics, SXSW tour dates, and the rest of this interview continued after the jump.
Interview with Michael Grubbs of Wakey!Wakey! continued:
4. The introductions to older songs like “Brooklyn”, “Take it Like A Man”, and “Car Crash”, could almost pass for classical recordings, but there’s no mistaking most of the new songs on “Almost Everything…” as pop compositions. Maybe it’s just a function of being in the studio, but to me, it seems as if you’re moving away from what I would call “chamber pop”, to more of a “pure pop” or even “synth pop” sound, do you agree?
MG: I’m just trying to incorporate more sounds and textures into the music. I don’t want to put a string cadence into a song that doesn’t need it. I also don’t want to throw unnecessary synths on anything. One song I just play completely live and solo. I do enjoy playing dancier stuff sometimes though.
5. You’ve been doing some acting lately on CW’s “One Tree Hill”. I know you are a classically trained musician, but where did you learn your acting chops?
MG: I studied both music and theatre in college. This is my first experience with on camera stuff though. I was always a stage guy. [But what about that AT&T commercial? ed.]
6. You are a musician and a former bartender, and “Grubbs”, the character you play on “One Tree Hill” is a musician and (somewhat clairvoyant) bartender, was this part written specifically with you in mind?
MG: Mark Schwahn, the creator of the show actually met me while I was standing behind a bar. It was at the Bar 4 open mic. I played “War Sweater”, and he wanted to use it on the show. After that we became friends, and he decided to write this role for me. People are always surprised when they see the depth of the music, because a lot of them are meeting us through the show. They assume I’m just an actor with a vanity project. I’m happy to surprise them, though.
7. What’s more exciting, to hear a song of yours on the radio, or to see yourself on TV?
Do you think it is harder to make it as a musician today or an actor?
MG: I’ve been playing music and working toward hearing my music on the radio for ten years, so that’s definitely more satisfying to me personally. I think that breaking out in any aspect of the arts, especially on your own, is practically impossible, and I feel really lucky to have the attention I currently do.
8. What are you working on right now? What does the future have in store for Wakey!Wakey!?
MG: Right now we’re getting ready for SXSW. We’re currently booked to play quite a bit down there. As far as the future goes, we’re planning extensive touring in North America, and in Europe.
Wakey!Wakey! 2010 SxSW Schedule
03/18 @ FADO Irish Pub, 6pm (Sitcom Serf Presents: I ♥ Brooklyn + Austin)
03/19 @ The Dizzy Rooster, 1pm (Family Records/Orchard)
03/19 @ Kung Fu Saloon, 3.45pm (w/ Pearl and the Beard, 3pm)
03/20 @ Iron Gate Lounge, 11pm
03/21 @ Obscure Mag Day Party, 2:30pm
Wakey!Wakey! at Mercury Lounge