It’s indisputable that Greg MacPherson is the Bruce Springsteen of Manitoba.
With six albums and countless tours under his belt, this vibrato-voiced rock and roller has the ins and outs of a solo career down to a science, yet still manages to make sure that his music is anything but cookie cutter.
As if his vast catalogue and relentless touring schedule weren’t enough, MacPherson decided to start up his own record label, called Disintegration Records. The label acts as an avenue to release his McPherson’s solo work and collaborative work, as well as many quality albums from other Winnipeg outfits such as the Cannon Bros and Haunter.
BeatRoute recently had the opportunity to talk to MacPherson about his newest album, Fireball and here’s what he had to say.
BeatRoute: How do you feel that Fireball compares to your previous albums?
Greg MacPherson: I see albums as snapshots that document the sound, attitude, skill level, etc. of any given project at some specific moment in the arc its development. I’m proud of all of the albums I’ve made because I know that each was the best I could do at those junctures and if nothing else you can hear a clear progression in the music with each subsequent release. My first records document my work at a time when I had limited knowledge of the studio and my musicianship was basically at a caveman level. You can hear me floundering around on the tracks, not particularly comfortable, having fun sometimes but not knowing how to write, play or sing particularly well. Fireball on the other hand, is a snapshot of us having some fun, playing good songs and knowing what we’re doing.
BR: How do you feel that your recent collaborations and side projects have influenced your new music?
GM: I read somewhere years ago that people stop learning once they hit their late 20s or early 30s. That idea always scared me or at least made me feel as though I should try hard not to get sucked down that path. About five years ago, after having spent a decade playing solo I recognized I needed within myself as a musician to get better… a lot better. I started playing lead guitar, baritone guitar, playing drums in a Rolling Stones tribute band, researching how certain guitar sounds are made, looking closer at the technical aspects of amplification, etc. All of this study has dramatically improved my ability to make the music I want to make.
BR: How do you find that recording with engineer, Cam Loeppky, with whom you’re also good friends, affected the recording process and output for you?
GM: We definitely spent a lot of studio time drinking good beer and talking instead of pressing record. When we did play, the sound captured on tape was of a group of people enjoying themselves and doing something we all felt strongly about. You can really hear that in the mixes.
BR: This is your first solo release on your own record label, Disintegration Records. What does that mean to you?
GM: Quality control. I dislike so much of the music I hear; I see too many selfish performances by people who are consuming a musical lifestyle more so than pushing themselves to be creative. The lifestyle thing is fine, I’m happy for folks to play music and have fun, but maybe they can do it behind closed doors and stop clogging the bandwidth. I started this label to help shed light on quality work too often overlooked by a sales-focused music industry. I’m proud to add this record to the body of work we’re building as a collective.
BR: Working as an executive director, multiple bands, running a label, how do you find the time to tour so extensively?
GM: I have a lot of energy and I don’t sleep much. Also, my job affords me a certain amount of autonomy and I can schedule days off when I want them for music. Life is short, I want to get some things done before I go. I’m always surprised how some people can flush their time down the toilet doing things that are wasteful or boring.
BR: How do you find that your non-profit work influences your music?
GM: It makes me realize how hard some people work and how lazy some people are, not necessarily in their vocations but certainly in their thinking. My work can be difficult but it’s educational and gives me exposure to a wide spectrum of people. Seeing the potential and shortcomings of human beings and our social structures up close every day has been a great shot in the arm for my perspective as a writer and it makes me appreciate every second I get to make music.
BR: After six albums of music how do you keep things new and fresh?
GM: My best work is still in front of me. I’m only just getting good at this stuff: it’s infinitely more satisfying now than it used to be.
Fireball was released on October 29 via Disintegration Records. Catch Greg MacPherson at the Palomino (Calgary) on November 15 and at the Artery (Edmonton) on November 16.
By Jenna Diubaldo