Wakey!Wakey! frontman Mike Grubbs talks festivals following SXSW, as he looks forward to a busy year.
Fresh from a successful week-long stint at SXSW 2014, Mike Grubbs from Brooklyn band Wakey!Wakey! reflects on his festival experiences as he continues to perform on the first leg of his 2014 North American tour.
The expansive Texas music festival proved to be another year of epic performances from bands both up-and-coming and already established. While Grubbs' band Wakey!Wakey! falls into the latter category, it's clear that that festive atmosphere isn't something you get used to easily. 'Festivals are just always a surprise; you never know what's going to happen', he insisted in an interview video. 'It's like the ultimate training ground for a musician. If you can survive a festival and you can go and play a good show, then you're in the right field.'
Watch the Wakey!Wakey! video interview:
As for Grubbs, he's known he's been in the right field since he was tiny. At the age of five he began learning piano from his piano teacher/choir director mother and, as it happens, he loved it so much that time on the ivories was used as a treat for completing homework. He learned classical music from the likes of Brahms, Bach and Beethoven for a time, before he discovered the delights of pop and rock music. 'I remember I went down the library and I got the Billy Joel and Elton John songbooks', he recalls. 'I remember taking the books and setting them up on the piano and learning to play all these songs that I'd never heard before. That was really my first introduction to pop music.'
In 2009, Wakey!Wakey! unveiled their much-loved 'The War Sweater' EP which 'One Tree Hill' creator Mark Schwahn got so into, he was prepared to back the band in any way he could; he used the title track for the season 6 finale and even gave Mike a recurring role as "Grubbs". The band were to achieve even further acclaim with their debut album 'Almost Everything I Wish I'd Said the Last Time I Saw You...' released through The Family Records in 2010 and which topped Billboard's Heatseakers Chart.
Wakey!Wakey!'s latest release comes in the form of their 'Irresistible' EP - the title track for which they have unveiled as a free download for you lucky fans. The new offering also features the tracks 'Call Me Up' and 'Phoebe Cates' (previously titled of 'Young Love'), the latter of which is of course named after the stunning 'Gremlins' actress. 'The song is actually not about Phoebe Cates, I didn't have a relationship with Phoebe Cates unfortunately', Grubbs admits. 'It was about a girl that reminded me of Phoebe Cates.'
Watch Wakey!Wakey! perform 'Phoebe Cates':
While 'Phoebe Cates' feels like a guitar-heavy rock anthem, 'Call Me Up' moves more into pop territory with pleasing guitar riffs, minimal but effective piano and a heavy but gentle bassline. 'The way that I write songs, I think every song is different', says Grubbs. 'I think usually what a song is to me is a little idea in my mind, something that I wanna say but I haven't figured out the best possible way to say it.'
The EP arose out of a crowd-funded online campaign on Pledge Music through which they are raising money to unveil a brand new album. Since the band have managed to achieve 138% of their initial goal ahead of the release, they couldn't resist using the extra cash to record the aptly titled 'Irresistible'. Plus, they're showing their charitable side by donating 10% of their overall pledge to the American Diabetes Association.
Watch Wakey!Wakey! perform 'Call Me Up':
So, as well as an upcoming album to look forward to, you can also catch the band live for the rest of the first and the second leg of their Spring tour with several dates alongside Casey Shea and Jillette Johnson (the latter of who incidentally teamed up with the band on the new EP's title track). We're kind of hoping they'll be announced to make a few more festival appearances too after hearing Grubbs reminisce about his first festival show at Hurricane Festival in Germany.
'We went out there to play and there was like a few hundred people out there before we started playing', he muses. 'Then this massive downpour started right before and like 5,000 people all came into the tent at once. We got to our song 'War Sweater' and 5,000 people started singing along. It was the craziest thing in the world.'
Mar 25 - The Media Club - Vancouver, Canada *
Mar 26 - Doug Fir Lounge - Portland, OR *
Mar 28 - Kilby Court - Salt Lake City, UT +
Mar 29 - The Walnut Room - Denver, CO +
Mar 30 - Slowdown Jr. - Omaha, NE *
Apr 01 - 7th Street Entry - Minneapolis, MN *
Apr 02 - The Frequency - Madison, WI *
Apr 03 - White Rabbit Cabaret - Indianapolis, IN +
Apr 04 - Rumba Cafe - Columbus, OH +
Apr 05 - Club Cafe - Pittsburgh, PA +
Apr 25 - Jammin Java - Vienna, VA
Apr 26 - North Star Bar - Philadelphia, PA
Apr 27 - The Camel - Richmond, VA
Apr 29 - The High Watt - Nashville, TN
Apr 30 - Vinyl - Atlanta, GA
May 01 - The Mill Room - Asheville, NC
May 02 - Orton's - Wilmington, NC
May 03 - Cat's Cradle - Carrboro, NC
* w/ Jillette Johnson
+ w/ Casey Shea, Jillette Johnson