The heart holds many secrets in reserve, and often, it isn’t until the moment we emerge from the depths and shadows, that we reflect in truth and clarity. Brooklyn based musician Michael Grubbs spent a decade or more circling the periphery of his dreams – doing what he could to get by, clinging to the one thing that he felt defined by: music.
Fate had another ending for Michael, who spent years working as a bar tender in Brooklyn, and playing out when he got the chance. It might have been a bit of a needle in a haystack situation – given the ratio of musicians to square feet in Brooklyn. Park Slope was where things changed, for Michael – specifically, a local haunt known as Bar 4.
“There was a great community of songwriters in the Park Slope district of Brooklyn. It was awesome. Basically a bunch of time went by and I went back, I made an agreement with myself that I would go back there no matter what, to keep in touch with my roots. It was always home. One night, I went back, played my set and winded up meeting a girl who was a writer on One Tree Hill. A few weeks later, the producer and head writer, Mark Schwahn came along to see me play and it went from there.” Michael recalls.
Michael’s song ‘War Sweater’ made its way on to season 6 of One Tree Hill. One of those unexpected and slightly surreal moments for Michael. A bit of a game changer, which would catapult him into all kinds of limelight.
“To realise something that you’ve wanted to happen for a very long time – it’s very scary to experience that.” Michael says.
2009 saw the ‘War Sweater’ EP released, preceding Michael’s debut LP ‘Almost Everything I Wish I’d Said The Last Time I Saw You’ (2010). The follow up (almost entirely crowdfunded by fans of Wakey! Wakey!) ‘Salvation’ was released in 2014. Michael’s latest album ‘Overreactivist’ was released in February 2016, following on from 2015’s ‘Homeless Poets’ EP.
“The minute you start thinking about what people will think, it gets corrupted. So you just have to write what you like and don’t think about the rest.”
“War Sweater had a lot to do with the idea that people take things that should be a little more personal and use them as accessories in their life, and make it into a defining characteristic of themselves. It was kind of about how we display some things that really should be kept private. I wrote the whole song in 30 minutes based on someone I knew. I didn’t imagine that anyone would like it, so I kept playing it, and it ended up on One Tree Hill.” Michael recalls.
Growing up in Virginia, Michael now resides with his wife and their loveable canine friend in Brooklyn. ‘Overreactivist’ is the culmination of his work to date.
“It’s a return to form for me. I went back to the studio where I recorded War Sweater, and worked with the same producer. We wrote it in the same way – we didn’t have any outside input, it was very personal. Much like creating something in a cave that we didn’t think anyone else was going to hear but us. We wanted to recapture that energy and that vibe. It really feels like a logical chapter. ‘Salvation’ was a pop album, but this feels like the album that most of my fans are probably expecting after everything.” Michael says.
Kicking off his UK tour, Wakey! Wakey! stop in at the Louisiana on Tuesday 8 March with Brooklyn based Elizabeth & The Catapult to support.
“I love Bristol. We’ve had so many crazy experiences there. One of the first shows outside of London was at Thekla, it was amazing.” Michael says.
“I’m lucky enough that my fans come back to a lot of shows. I try to be as honest as I can about the music that I make and the life I lead. Like anyone, I have hard times and good times. I try to relate that to the music and a lot of people connect with that, and that feels really good to me.” Michael adds.
Wakey! Wakey! + Elizabeth & the Catapult play at the Louisiana on 8 March. Tickets are available priced at £10: www.thelouisiana.net
Wakey! Wakey! www.wakeywakeymusic.com