MICHAEL WARD On the crest

After years of playing in other bands, Michael Ward is finally bringing his own original music to the world. Following the release of his debut single Swell earlier this year, the WA singer-songwriter has been on the road playing a series of live shows across the state, and now he’s readying himself for his biggest show to date with a special full-band show at Rosemount Hotel with special guests Brooke Bugeja, Ullah and Michael Day on Friday, May 20. BRAYDEN EDWARDS caught up with Michael Ward to find out what inspired his music, the story behind the single, and what we can look forward to at the show.

Congrats on the release of your new single! How long has this been in the works for and how does it feel to finally release it?

Thanks, yeah it’s a really big deal for me. I’ve played bass guitar for decades in different bands and so to work on my own project and my own music means a lot to me. The song has been around for a year or so and I’ve enjoyed seeing it take shape over that time.

And how would you say this track is different from music you have written before?

This track probably marks the start of a new era of song writing for me as I feel it is the start of ‘my sound,’ or my music. I’ve written songs in some of the bands that I was in over the years but I’ve really been working on my own style, working with and discovering my own voice as well as the permanent move to six strings. It was also good to work with an old high school friend who was in concert band with me and sang at my very first live gig. It felt like a really nice co-lab to start my project with.

How about lyrically? What was it you wanted to express with this track?

 The track is about my love for the ocean, surfing, the waves and how different life feels if I’m catching waves. I feel much more grounded and connected and I wanted to share that because I think it’s pretty special. I love the rush of catching a wave that is probably pushing my skillset and I zen out, sitting there on my board seeing schools of fish, birds dive bombing, dolphins and even a friendly seal while waiting for the next wave. That’s what I tried to replicate in the song, the rush, the balance and the love between surfer and ocean. I feel too that the lyrics can be extended to reflect the feelings in a healthy relationship with your significant other.

What artists do you feel helped shape your sound, and this track in particular?

Huge John Butler and Xavier Rudd fan, would love to sing and play like those guys but we work with what we’ve got right? I’ve been listening to JBT for decades and love his range of music over those years and how that’s developed too. Xavier Rudd I like the stories that his songs share and how well they’re written. Those two are definitely big inspirations. This track wasn’t quite able to escape my adolescent influences like Metallica, Offspring and Oasis but I’m pleased with how it all came together. These days I’m finding more influence from Nick Cave and Rodriguez so it’ll be interesting to see how the upcoming EP compares.

Are there any live shows coming up we can look forward to? And how might your gigs be different from what we hear on record?

Yeah, there are some amazing shows coming up. The first big one is at the Rosemount Hotel 459 Bar on Friday the 20th of May. My favourite part that I’m looking forward to is who else is playing that night. For me, I’ve got Ez on cajon and Shaun Street on bass plus some added extras for something special. Playing with that full sound adds so much depth and dynamic.

And then also Brooke Bugeja, who just played at Optus bloody Stadium, Mike Day who I admire so much, the way he crafts his sound, songs and set, and Ullah who has been totally raved about. I feel so blessed to meet so many talented musos and then share a gig with them. The WA Single Tour will wrap up with a North West Tour up to Exmouth and Karratha (at Whalebone Brewery and Samson Tavern on the 17th and 19th of June) and then a second swing to the south coast this time via Bridgetown to Albany (The Cidery, Wilsons Brewery and Six Degrees from the 29th – 31st of July). It’s definitely been my most comprehensive tour I’ve done, such a riot!

It’s been a bit surreal lately to be honest, how quickly things are progressing now. Six months ago I was booking my first Sunday session quietly panicking on how I’d fill out three hours of music and now I’ve just booked in my first National Tour and a couple of festivals. The National tour already includes venues in NT, SA, QLD and VIC as well as another WA regional Show. That’s all happening from September this year when I launch my new EP which I’m recording at John Butler Studios. Then getting accepted to play at the Mandurah Country Music Festival in October as well as The Bruce Rock Festival in 2023 and I’m just pinching myself. I’ve always loved playing live and I’m so very excited for the year ahead.

What have you got coming up for the rest of the year? And how can we keep up to date with any new releases going forward?

 I love playing live so once the tour is over I’ll still be pumping out shows and testing new material. Looking to get an EP recorded during Winter so I can release that leading into summer. COVID permitting I’ll be looking to head over east and do some shows over there too which is something I’ve always wanted to do but never done before. I rely on my Instagram page to promote upcoming gigs and what’s been going on (@justmichaelhere) so people are welcome to check that out. Looking forward to seeing where the road goes and what opportunities come along.

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