ack in early 2017, the Canadian First-Nations rock band DISTRICT AVENUE was on the road to active rock glory with the release of their glorious LP EPOCH. The effort was rolled out with some rather fine album artwork and the thunderous single REVIVAL accompanied by an epic CGI music video from director JAY MARKS. Just as the accolades were coming in and as the band had won the INDIGENOUS MUSIC AWARD for BEST MUSIC VIDEO, DISTRICT AVENUE quietly called it quits, leaving lead singer MIKE BERN to cut his losses and etch out a solo career for himself. According to BERN, the sound that will set him apart from the more high octane approach of his former band will be more "acoustic-driven". With the soft release of his haunting first single FIRST MOTHER, one can hear that a acoustic guitars are ruling the day but the singer songwriter has not entirely abandoned his innate rock n roll instincts, as a full band can be heard, which includes MIKE ARCHIBALD of RELIC KINGS on lead guitar. FIRST MOTHER is the first single from an as-yet-untitled LP due out before the end of the year. ROCKWIRED had a chance to speak with MIKE BERN regarding his new single and future LP. Here is how the interview went.
You've taken me completely by surprise with by stepping away form your previous band DISTRICT AVENUE and going solo. You've also got a great single in FIRST MOTHER, which seems to be making the rounds. How does it feel to have your first offering as a solo artist out there for everyone to listen to?
It feels good! It's something that I always wanted to do. It's something that has always been at the back of my mind and I figured this time, I'd try something different. This is an acoustic-based project. This was a chance to do my own thing instead of playing someone else's music and singing it. This just feels more liberating to be doing your own music and your own lyrics. It's just great! It feels great to have this kind of freedom and to be able to do all of this stuff now. I'm happy.
CHECK OUT THE NEW SiNGLE FiRST MOTHER!!!
What was the inspiration for this first single?
I came across this book with old Maliseet, Penobscot and Passamaquoddy stories and one of them was the story of the FIRST MOTHER. I just fell in love with the story. It's about how a woman gave her life up to feed the stars and the sick and give medicine to the people. The story just inspired me to write this song. I thought it would be cool to bring this story that was written in the 1800s and bring it back and add my musical spin on it.
And who helped you behind th recording console for this new single? Was it jsut you or did others help out?
BEN from EARTHSHIP RECORDS helped with a lot with the music that I recorded. He helped a lot with helping me get things arranged. I had MIKE ARCHIBALD from the RELIC KINGS help me out. He did the guitar solo that you hear on FIRST MOTHER. I also had BURNSTICK doing some guitar and that was about out it. DARIUS did the mixing and STEVE BENFORD from ECLIPSE MASTERING. So there were quite a few people that had helped me work on this project. These are all people that I became friends with over the years that I've been in the music industry. I'm very grateful to be able to be working with these people.
What are your plans for the roll out of the single?
Right now, this is just a soft release. I'm trying to get my song to radio stations across the country and down your way and get it into the ears of bloggers and reviewers. Right now, I'm starting to do all of that stuff. Hopefully, I'll hear something nice, but there is always the friends and family that you leave an impression on with your music and that's always a great feeling, knowing that you're doing something great and people appreciate what you're doing.
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Your former band DISTRICT AVENUE threw the towel in at almost the same time that their album EPOCH had just come out. What was the reason for the band dissolving?
Well, I just think that it had to do with everyone involved. You had people who agreed to get together for practice and to write songs and do some shows and I was the one that was chasing after everybody to get all of these things done and I was just getting tired of that. I wanted to play live shows and none of that was happening. I later began to think at the back of my head that this wasn't going to work out. Maybe I should do what I always wanted to do and leave this band behind. I don't have anything bad to say about the people that I worked with. I love them all and I appreciate all of the work that they put into it, but what we had just wasn't working.
For any forthcoming live shows, will the performances be solo acoustic shows or something involving a full band?
I think I'm just gonna do the solo thing. It's just a little easier that way for right now. It's just really important to get my name out there and play the music. Maybe later down the line, I'll have to add players to the live show. We'll just have to see what happens, but for now I'll just be doing the acoustic thing.
And I assume that this single is preceding the release of either an EP or an LP. When can people expect something like that to happen?
Right now, I'm looking at an LP and I'm thinking of having something out sometime before Christmas. I'm working on some tracks for the album right now. It's fun, but it's expensive to get these songs mixed and mastered. Money is the only obstacle in the way of getting these songs out to people as soon as I possibly can, but I'm hoping that before Christmas, I'll have a full album to share with everybody.
Where do these new songs of your come from? What is inspiring them?
These songs are inspired by things that happen to me everyday. It's that kind of thing. When I wasn't in a rock band, I always had an acoustic guitar and I would play songs and make up my own songs. It's just something that I love to do. It just feels so intimate. It's just you and the crowd. In fact, just taking out an acoustic guitar and playing is the actual songwriting process for me. That's how it is. It's all about all the things that happen to you everyday. Anything can inspire you to write a song. Walking out the door and feeling the wind on your face and the the sun in your eyes can stir the emotions inside of you to write a song. I just put those feelings to the guitar. That was how the song FIRST MOTHER came together, and it ended up being a wonderful song.
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From the forthcoming LP, what songs off of it have you the most excited to get people to hear and why?
All of them really. I want people to hear all of the songs and I'm always excited to share new music. In the meantime, I'm working on another music video, an animated music video so I'm really excited to see how that is going to finish out.
And what is the big idea behind this album that you will be releasing? What would you like for people to come away with, once they hear it?
When you take these old stories and put them to song, it's like you are carrying on that legacy. It's all about using music as a vehicle for storytelling. I'm just glad to be able to share these stories that I've brought back from the past so that they never die. People will still talk about these stories even though it's being brought back through song. That is what I would like to see happen with this forthcoming album.
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