Friday, 19 October 2012

Write Up Version of Wakey! Wakey! Grubbs Interview

Michael Grubbs of Wakey!Wakey! Interview
Michael Grubbs joins me to talk about fronting an upcoming indie group ‘Wakey! Wakey!’, his acting debut in hit US TV show One Tree Hill and his obsession for anything zombie.

Interview by Katherine Parkes
Michael Grubbs, most commonly referred to by his second name, seems a lot more relaxed than you’d expect someone would look had they been in his shoes the last couple of years. For his band ‘Wakey! Wakey!’ it’s been two hectic years, starting with worldwide tours and  ending with them preparing their second studio album, due to release later this year. “I’m being really careful with this album. I already have 26 songs finished to choose from. I think when you see things written tattooed on enough people, it ups the ante a little!”.

Wakey! Wakey! were officially formed 6 years ago, when the band went from 11 full time members to a band consisting only of Grubbs, his backing singer Tanya Berziak and various rotational musicians. He explains that the band’s name was inspired from their first set of songs, which were primarily based around political themes, “The idea was that you’d let them into your head and then one day it would all click and they’d make you consider life in a new way” explains Grubbs, “Now I’m tired of politics, and I write about life and love”.

Grubbs’ big break came after 10 years of struggling to make it as a musician in New York, when One Tree Hill’s producer Mark Schwahn caught the band playing at an open mic after waiting three hours to see them play. He was so impressed, that the band’s music began to feature on various episodes of the show, before an entire role was created specifically for Grubbs’, based loosely on his real life persona. When asked about whether or not he’d do acting again, Grubbs admits “As long as it didn’t get in the way of music. If it wasn’t for music, I might be an actor, I might be homeless. I definitely wouldn’t be behind a desk somewhere. I just can’t pull that off!”

Although a lot of people had not originally realised he was a musician, it did not take long for the band to gain coverage and soon after, they released their first album which went onto become one of the most critically acclaimed of 2010. He describes this experience by saying “At some point in a musicians career things just kind of tip over, and amazing things start to happen all the time”. Despite the band’s sales skyrocketing, Grubbs’ down to earth attitude remains intact, “I’m really grateful to have an amazing life right now. Between living in Brooklyn, NY, and travelling all over the world I get to have a ton of unusual experiences. I think all of it works its way into my music somehow”.
Grubbs puts his incredible classic, raw toned voice down to the way he was brought up by his musical family in his hometown Richmond, Virginia. At age five, he began singing worship music and playing piano on a daily basis. However, it wasn’t until his teens when his real inspiration and love for piano came after he began discovering pop artists such as Billy Joel and Elton John. This mix of genres growing up gave him the classical and pop influenced voice and style he has today, “I never really considered much of anything else [as a career]. The piano is all I’ve ever wanted to do. It’s like a video game I’ll never beat”. Once it was time to move out, Grubbs went to New York City to be an understudy of classical legend Lach and ever since then, Brooklyn has been home for him. He even notes it as his favourite place to travel to, as his constant travelling makes going there “like a vacation” to him. “New York has an energy. Also it’s so full of exciting people, I fall in love every time I ride the subway!”
As well as his talent, Grubbs displays effortless natural ability to not only engage his audience but amuse them, which may contribute to the band having the opportunity to play all over the world. In fact, they’ve travelled so much that Grubbs struggles to pinpoint his favourite moment on tour. “Every time I play in London is astounding. I love the people. A night off in Amsterdam, a walk alone in Paris, surfing in Florida, a pickup game of basketball in Virginia with my band. I also love time on stage; it can be a real rush when it goes right”.

Love has obviously been a large inspiration for Wakey! Wakey!’s first album ‘Everything I Wish I’d Said The Last Time I Saw You’, so when the talk turns to Grubbs’ love life he grins as he says “I went on a date last week with a
girl who worked in an office and I was fascinated. I kept asking her, "Is there really a water cooler?", and "Do you have a copying
machine?" We don't see these sorts of things much in rock and roll. Our offices are covered in records and guitars and things to make you forget you're in an office”. Love being an inspiration is also made edvident when Grubbs’ explains “I’m of the mindset that all songs are cool. You can hear the sappiest love song and it can sound ridiculous if you’re in a breakup, or stunning if you’re just falling in love.”

When the conversation turns to today’s music industry and major labels, Grubbs admits the reasons why he turned down various offers. “To be honest, I think major labels can do a lot for certain artists look at Madonna, her career highly benefitted from signing to a bigger label. Our issue is struggling with whether we want to be part of it as we see ourselves very much so as an indie band and love the freedom we get with that”. With this in mind, the band have remained loyal to the minor label ‘Family Records’ who they released their first album with as he describes major labels as ‘dinosaurs who may be unsuitable for their style’.

It is safe to say that despite all the work Grubbs does, he is still a big kid at heart particularly when it comes to his obsession with anything Zombie related. “I’d love to be on a zombie show. I really love zombies. I have four books on my nightstand and three are about zombies” he says embarrassed. His inner child also emerges when he speaks of his ‘superpower’, “I can already fly and I have super strength, but don’t tell anyone. People always ask me to help them move. But if I could do anything. Time Travel. Or maybe I’d never age” he says with a wicked laugh.

As the interview comes to a close and a new coffee in hand Grubbs says “We’re gonna pick the producer for this album, get it recorded, then get back on the road! I love touring. Hopefully we’ll come see you!”. 


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Morgan Brooks said...

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