Wakey!Wakey! frontman Michael Grubbs is a triple treat—singer, songwriter and piano man extraordinaire. After releasing two LPs and a live album last year, the band’s first full-length disc, “Almost Everything I Wish I’d Said The Last Time I Saw You,” was released on Feb. 2. In addition to the new album, Grubbs can be seen on the CW’s “One Tree Hill” as a bartender named, well, Grubbs. Spartanedge caught up with the Brooklyn based musician during a break in his busy schedule.
Spartanedge: Of the eleven tracks on your new record, which song are you most proud of?
Michael Grubbs: That’s like asking a parent which is their favorite child (laughs). Right now I’m bouncing between “Feral Love,” “The Oh Song” and “Almost Everything.”
SE: What was the recording process like? How long did it take to complete the album?
MG: We did it over about four months, but the biggest chunk was done in the first month, then it was a lot of cleaning and mixing. I recorded it with Chris Cubeta at Galuminum Foil in Bushwick (in Brooklyn, NY). It was really relaxed and there was a lot of room for experimentation.
SE: Your loyalty to New York is obvious. What is your favorite city to play in? Is there a particular show that sticks out in your mind as the best you’ve ever played?
MG: I love New York. One of my favorite nights was the first time I played Nashville, though. It was a tiny club, but it was packed, and I have no idea why because no one knew me at that point. I sat down solo on stage and everyone just tuned in. It was a pretty magical night. We made a ton of friends.
SE: What is your favorite song to play live?
MG: “Almost Everything.” When we do it with the full band, there’s just so much energy. It’s really thrilling.
SE: Who are your major influences?
MG: Early in life I listened to a lot of classical. More modern influences are definitely Brooklyn indies like Grizzly Bear, Beirut and Dirty Projectors. I also love Arcade Fire and Radiohead.
SE: You are an amazing songwriter. Do you write from personal experience?
MG: I think songs start with sparks from my personal life, definitely. Then my brain just kind of goes. Some of them are things that have happened quite literally, but a lot are things that I wish would happen, or really hope don’t.
SE: What has been the highlight of your career so far?
MG: We’ve had so many great nights. Probably the best was the first time we played the Bowery Ballroom. I had the number of the club in my phone for 10 years prior with just the word ‘Someday’ beside it. I’m so dramatic sometimes (laughs).
SE: What is one thing you haven’t done career wise that you would like to do eventually?
MG: Madison Square Garden comes to mind (laughs). But more realistically, I’d like to just be able to tour and support a family from music.
SE: What are some of your passions outside of music?
MG: I love food. I love nothing more than going into a really great restaurant and just unwinding for a few hours with great company.
SE: If you could tour with anyone, who would it be?
MG: Radiohead or Arcade Fire. I can’t imagine ever getting tired of watching those guys play every single night.
SE: Any plans to tour in the near future? Come to Michigan, please!
MG: I love touring. Hopefully after SXSW we’re gonna be launching something pretty expansive.
SE: How are you enjoying your role on “One Tree Hill”? Do you think you will try acting again?
MG: I’m so into acting. I really love it. I don’t know how much time music will afford me for it in the next few years, but I would love to do more whenever the time was there.
SE: What words of wisdom do you have for aspiring musicians?
MG: Just be a musician. Touch your instrument at least once a day. And be kind. Every time we go into a sound check, we make a point of being really nice to the crew. Why would anyone be a jerk to anyone? Especially the guy that’s controlling the sound…it’s just stupid. Don’t ever assume that being a musician is a ticket to developing some mystique that means you’re no longer respectful of other humans.
SE: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
MG: Let’s go Mets.