Records hold a very special place in the hearts of listeners, especially musicians. Whether it be through the distinct artwork, or a stand-out track, records have the unique ability to instantly take us back to the first time we heard them. So we asked Melbourne singer/songwriter Mike Waters to tell us some of his favourite records and the influence they’ve had his life as a musician and the making is recently released debut EP, aptly titled Life.
Did any albums influence the production or music of your new EP LIFE?
I can’t honestly say if there were any specific records that influenced the songs or the writing. I think that in general, my exposure to Punk Rock as a teenager is my biggest musical influence, mostly the genre’s melodic drive. I didn’t actively try and aim for something with this record. I always find if I try for a particular style, I end up hating whatever I produce because it sounds contrived. I just kind of let these songs flow through me to see what I would come up with.
What is your favourite album of all time?
That’s an easy one: Brand New – The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me
What was the first album you bought with your own money?
This is taking me back, but I worked at Subway when I was 14/15, and when I got my first paycheck I bought: Jebediah – Slightly Odway
Which album has influenced your music style the most?
This is a tough one, I don’t think I can answer this. I’ve never looked to any specific styles or albums when writing or recording. I really just grab a guitar or hit the studio and let things happen. This EP was an iterative process where we got the guitar tracks down and a guide vocal, and just started building layers. If we hit on something we liked we would follow that road, and if there were elements that weren’t working we found ways to change them. Everything I’ve ever enjoyed is really in there in one way or another.
What has been the biggest surprise release of 2015?
Well it came out in December 2014 but I didn’t hear it until 2015, so I think it counts, but Walk The Moon’s album Talking Is Hard is a lot of fun!
What was playing on your family stereo growing up?
Queen, Simply Red, The Eagles, Musical Soundtracks like Grease, The Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserables, Billy Joel. My sister subjected the whole family to a lot of Hanson.
Which album did you play to death as a teenager?
Blink 182 – Dude Ranch probably got the most spins, but
Underoath – Define The Great Line is definitely up there.
If you record an album with any producer in the world, who would it be, and why?
I honestly don’t know enough producers to answer this with certainty, but I know that I’d really like to work with Tom Iansek of Big Scary if the opportunity arises, just to see what he could do with my input.
What was your inspiration behind the artwork for LIFE & who created the artwork?
My friend Lisa Axiotis (www.facebook.com/LisaAxiotis.Art) did the artwork. She’s an incredible painter, sketch artist, 3d artist, among other things. The idea itself was a collaboration. She’d recently drawn the line-work portrait for my single ‘Gambling Man’, and this had given me some ideas for the cover of LIFE. We had coffee and discussed geometric shapes, craft paper, and watercolours. She introduced the idea of the portrait and it really drew me in. I liked the idea that this portrait has meaning from right-to-left and left-to-right. I’ve suffered from episodic depression and anxiety issues, so from left to right it represents how the pressures of life can really break you down, but from right to left it is a reminder that you are the sum of your parts. It’s the idea idea that you are a product of your own experiences and it’s your own life that defines you and gives your purpose.
Did you have any other names on the table for your debut EP, or was it always going to be called LIFE?
The initial title was “This Lonesome Life”, but after looking at that for a while, it was only the LIFE part that really struck me as relevant so I scrapped the rest.
What was your most memorable moment while recording LIFE?
Well the last track that we finished was Feels Like Home. We only had a short time in the studio to get that track out, and what we ended up with at the end of it felt like it needed more time. There was too much I wanted to change and add, so I took the stems home. I tracked some extra parts and pads with Edwin White (Drummer on that track), and rerecorded my own vocals at home. I’d spent quite a bit of time in different studios with different producers and I’d been learning a lot about the process and the software along the way, so when I was done tracking, I mixed the track myself. The version that I mixed made it onto the record, and I’m really proud of that.
Mike Waters Life EP Tour
THURSDAY 11 JUNE – THE WHEATSHEAF, ADELAIDE
FRIDAY 12 JUNE – OXFORD ART FACTORY, GALLERY BAR, SYDNEY
FRIDAY 19 JUNE – SHEBEEN, MELB