Mike McCleary is a multi-instrumentalist alternative rock musician from Northern Ontario, Canada. He has been a musician most of his life, and just recently recorded an album from his home titled “Weight of the Truth”. We are sharing our recent interview with him.
Twist Online : First of all tell us about the start of your professional career?
Mike McCleary : I’ve been a musician for close to 20 years now, and while I’ve always fooled around and written music, I’ve never felt comfortable sharing the music until recently, actually. I started with covering “Pomegranate Daffodil”, by Hawksley Workman and it just kind of took off from there.
Twist Online : Who or what inspired you to get into music industry?
Mike McCleary : I entered the Canadian Songwriting Challenge and was selected as one of ten successful applicants. I got to work with some other great indie musicians there, took in some amazing Canadian Folk rock, like Shotgun Jimmie, and I was changed as a musician from that point on. I actually wrote the first song, So Surreal, on the side of the highway while driving home from the festival.
Twist Online : Tell us about your recent release “Weight of the Truth” ?
Mike McCleary : Weight of the Truth has been a roller coaster ride. It started to come to life after I wrote So Surreal. The album was initially meant to be just a fun, upbeat rock album, but then life happened. After dealing with some severe anxiety, which pushed me into a hypertensive crisis, and depression, which nearly cost me my life, I started to realize that my writing often focused on these issues, so I decided to make the album about mental illness in an attempt to help break the stigma that comes with mental illness. I will also be donating 50% of the proceeds to the Sick Not Weak foundation.
Twist Online : Any particular track of the album that’s your favorite?
Mike McCleary : If I had to pick one song I would pick Be the One. The main guitar was heavily inspired by John Mayer, and it has this raw bluesy tone that I grew up listening too. So just to be able to recreate a sound that I’ve loved for so many years was great.
Twist Online : What kind of response you have received from the release?
Mike McCleary : Some of the songs on the album have had a very good reception on Soundcloud. So Surreal actually made number 8 on the Soundcloud new releases in Canadian rock the week it was released. Other songs like The Working Poor had a play count of over 20 thousand. The album itself has also had positive reception since releasing it for sales and I’ve also received a lot of positive feedback about Date Night with Darkness, as well.
Twist Online : What attracts you more, performing on stage or working in studios?
Mike McCleary : As much as I love playing on stage most of my time is spent writing and recording at home. So I’d have to say due to the infrequency of shows, I’d have to rule out the stage performance in this one.
Twist Online : What’s your favorite music genre?
Mike McCleary : This one is so tough. I grew up a metal head, so thrash metal will always have a place in my heart, but at the same time, one of my favorite albums of all time is Ry Cooder’s Into the Purple Valley. So the folk stuff is great too. Blues has also been huge for me, with Eric Clapton being an inspiration of mine. I can’t pick one genre, which I think comes across in my music.
Twist Online : Have you set some target to achieve as a music artist?
Mike McCleary : My goal is to just make music and have fun doing it. I would absolutely love to get a spot at the Northern Lights Festival, though. I would honestly like to be seen as a hard working musician too.
Twist Online : Are you currently working on any other project?
Mike McCleary : I have a few! RIght now I am working on a podcast called Northern Indies, which focuses on Indie music in Northern Ontario. The show is in its infancy but it’s already been a lot of fun.
I am also working on my next album. It’s actually a revamp on an old album called In Ruins. I’m hoping to have it done in a couple of months.