From bartending to bandleading

Wakey! Wakey! will play 8 p.m. Tuesday at Mojo’s.

By Christine Cauthen | Nov. 5, 2010

Tags: Music


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What do popular TV shows, politics and a bartender all have in common? Mike Grubbs.

It’s hard to believe the first round of angst-ridden love songs from indie band Wakey! Wakey! are actually political songs disguised behind sentimental lyrics. But that’s what they are.

“If you first listen to the songs, it would just sound like a guy breaking up with a girl,” Grubbs said. “But if you listen closer, you would realize it’s kind of like me separating myself from the state of our politics.”

The first album’s hidden motives are hinted at by the mysterious band name.

“‘Wakey! Wakey!’ was a key to figure out what the songs were about," Grubbs said.

Music was always in the cards for him, starting with his childhood.

“I was raised in a family of musicians, and music was what we did,” Grubb said. “There was a time where I thought about being an actor, but it was always the arts.”

Musician doesn’t even begin to summarize what Grubbs is. He is also a guest actor/musician on the popular TV show “One Tree Hill” and a master at hiding deeper meaning into relatable songs.

The musician had a brief stint on “One Tree Hill,” starring as the bartender with hidden musical talents.

“’One Tree Hill’ was amazing,” Grubbs said. “Not only was it fun, but it was also inspiring to work with such a well-oiled machine. It inspired me to be a better bandleader. It was just a win-win.”

His eclectic tendencies spill over from his hobbies into the music he creates.

“I play the piano,” Grubbs said. “I play the voice. I play the drum machine. I play the guitar -- but I would never try to do it professionally — and I grew up playing the French horn. I’ve messed around with every instrument at some point.”

Grubbs follows three major rules when writing his lyrics.

“I am a very literal writer, but (inspiration) comes from something that has happened that I was really stoked about, something that hasn’t happened that I really wish would or something that I really hope doesn’t happen,” Grubbs said. “Those three things pretty much wrap it up.”

He also prefers to write a whole song cycle rather than individual songs.

“The way I write, I’ll sit down and write an album, as opposed to sitting down to write a song,” Grubbs said. “So the next album is definitely in the washing machine of my head right now. Spinning around all the different sounds I want, all the different things I want are kind of starting to come together.”

Wakey! Wakey! has a new single coming out for the tour, giving fans a taste of the band’s new music.

Grubbs is on tour with Jenny Owen Youngs, and the duet released a couple of free singles as a promotion. It’s clear Grubbs wants to make his fans feel at home, and his main message is a positive one.

“We’ve all been there,” Grubbs said. “If they’re in a place where things don’t feel so good, like we’ve all been in that place where it doesn’t feel so good, and it all gets better if you stick with it.”

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