A Few Minutes With...Michael Bernard Fitzgerald

Before the one, the only MBF put on a stellar-as-usual showcase of how to do music right, the mellow musician gave us a look-see into the backstages of his daily life...past, present 'n future...

BY EMIL TIEDEMANN

Myself (far left) with MBF and my cohorts Lonnie & Samantha!
I MAY have been shaking my head, but I still had a smirk on my face when some chick ran up on stage at the Starlite Room when MBF (that's Michael Bernard Fitzgerald, for those of you who unfortunately don't know) broke into his earnest take on Bruce Springsteen's classic "Dancing in the Dark." Somebody had to do it, I guess. MBF took it in stride though, insisting the girl share a kiss with his newly-single drummer Andrew Ball. Lucky her.

That's the sorta shit-nizzle I've come to expect out of an MBF show, and at this point I'd consider myself a veteran. An MBF journeyman perhaps, soliciting his melodic sounds to my friends and acquaintances alike, all of whom seem to have an immediate adoration for this singer-songwriter from...*clears throat*...Calgary!

But I'm just gonna try to forget about that for now. *Clears throat.*

Nonetheless, MBF was born to do what he does, a talent he's thankfully tapped in on and has graciously shared with his neighbours to the north on many--and hopefully many more---occasions!

Musical entourage in tow, MBF filled the stage, breaking into insatiable beats that were paralleled with charming personas and lyricism meant to ease the ears. We were under his sweet spell, avoiding pee breaks and overlooking pushy cohorts to feel the sedation of MBF's soothing tones, and the peeling of his solo acoustic.

Many of the songs he played that night (March 1) were new to me, ripped from the recent 5-song EP Yes. Others were stage staples, in "Movie Life," "Brand New Spaces," and "Reach You," the latter of which I insinuated my buddy Lonnie tastefully scream out when MBF canvassed the crowd for requests.

"What's your name?" MBF asked my friend.

"Lonnie!"

"Well, Lonnie," MBF said (& I'm paraphrasing here). "Good choice."

Michael Bernard Fitzgerald performed at the Starlite
Room in downtown Edmonton on March 1, 2012.
Edmonton's own Scenic Route to Alaska was one 

of the opening acts that night.  
But one of my favourite sing-along performances of the night was a song that belonged to someone else. Robyn's "Call Your Girlfriend," which has been a steady contender for the top of my iTunes playlist for many months now. Good choice.

Needless to say, but I'll say it despite, the three of us--and I'm sure the bulk of ev'ryone else--left the Starlite starstruck, satisfied yet again with MBF's musical toast. Now we play the torturous waiting game, counting down the days 'til MBF returns to greet us again...which will be June 8 btw, at the Open Sky Music Festival!

A few hours before the show, MBF kindly answered some questions that I Heart Edmonton had to ask him. So, now, let's spend a few minutes with the one, the only...Michael Bernard Fitzgerald.

Part I

IE/ Can you remember when it was that you decided that you wanted to be a musician?

MBFI always wanted to be a performer, I knew that. I played in a band in high school and then I was away for a little bit, and then I started playing acoustic guitar. I thought at once about doing theatre, and then the [music] shows just started getting better, and more of the focus moved to this.

IE/ How was the first show you ever performed, and when & where was it?

MBF/ It was at this place called Karma in Calgary, and there was about 40 people. I invited a bunch of friends. It was my first time really playing. I had little like EPs I made with the CD burner & cassette player at home.

IE/ Were you pretty nervous?

MBF/ I don't recall being nervous. I did get really green though.

IE/ Are all of your songs based on personal experiences, or do you also turn to friends, family, or even pop culture for song ideas?

MBF/ A lot of it is personal experience, but there's a bigger story to it, right? But some of it is verbatim.

IE/ Do you think you'll ever do an album in the same vein of a Jagged Little Pill?

MBF/ On the new record there are a couple of songs that are not so lovey-dovey. I doubt that I'd do a whole one. Even like Adele's 21 is kinda the same concept. Well, I guess we'll see what happens. I mean if I have something that happens in my personal life that takes me that way, then we'll go there, yeah.

IE/ Do you prefer performing onstage by yourself or with a large entourage of musicians?

MBF/ I like each different setting for a different reason. I love playing by myself because there's so much space, but I love playing with a big band. I mean tonight's a pretty big band, but Tuesday night in Calgary was a band of 250.

IE/ What do you have to say about Alberta's music community and our support of it?

MBF will launch his second full-length album, Yes: Side A
(Lazers & Danger/ EMI) on April 24th. 

Photo by Lonnie Ripper. 
MBF/ I like it. I obviously wanna see it do really good things. I was really happy to win that Emerging Artist of the Year Award this year...that was kinda fun. I've heard we got a good community, so I'll guess we'll just see what happens, and I hope it keeps on grinding.

IE/ If you weren't performing and recording music, what do you think you'd be doing with yourself?

MBF/ I don't know. I change my mind all the time. I think if I wasn't doing this I'd probably try and be a lawyer or something.

IE/ What's the craziest fan incident you've encountered?

MBF/ Oi. We actually don't have really crazy fans, we usually just have nice people. I can't even think of a crazy fan moment. I mean there are people that come to a bunch of shows in different cities, you know, but I really appreciate that; I wouldn't wanna call them out for that.

IE/ What does the flower on the end of your guitar represent?

MBF/ It's no longer there. I switched guitars and it doesn't fit with the new one. I bought that flower in a store in Montreal and I put it on, and it just made sense. But as of lately, it just didn't make sense anymore. Not that I don't like flowers! I started noticing it, you know what I mean?

IE/ If there was one person, dead or alive, who you could spend a whole day with, who would it be and why?

MBF/ I think I would wanna spend the day with Mr. Springsteen. I just think they call him 'The Boss' for a reason, right?

IE/ What's one thing about Edmonton that you like better than Calgary? And vice versa?

MBF/ I love what happens in Edmonton. Starlite is one of favourite rooms to play, ever! The first time I ever came to Edmonton we played the Starlite and it was like not very busy and it was kind've a downer. But Edmonton [fanbase] has started to grow, and we've started to have a really good time. I appreciate that Edmonton people are willing to come and just enjoy. Sometimes I think that Edmonton kids are just too cool for us, because I mean people in Edmonton seem to dress well. And then Calgary, I mean, it's my hometown. I just feel like home when I get there.

Part II

IE/ Favourite movie of all-time?

MBF/ Drumline. That used to be like my guilty pleasure movie. Nick Cannon. And [drummer] Andrew [Ball], he hates it, but he's actually been in marching bands all his life, and so he hates that. And actually, I was watching The Godfather last night and I love that movie too. That's like a legit one. And then Sister Act 2 has gotta be on the list too.

IE/ Best book you've ever read?

MBF/ It was recent. It's called Shantaram [by Gregory David Roberts]. Look it up, it's great. But I haven't been reading in awhile, so my plan is start reading in a serious way. I haven't allowed myself to just sit and read in a long time.

IE/ First concert you ever attended?

MBF/ Probably California Raisins or Sharon, Lois & Bram.

IE/ Country or city you want to see, but haven't yet?

MBF/ I have to still do Europe, I still have to do South America.

Swedish pop singer Robyn is one of MBF's celebrity crushes.
He performed her song "Call Your Girlfriend" during his
concert at the Starlite Room last month. 
IE/ Celebrity crush?

MBF/ Meg Ryan, before she got the upgrades. Who else is a good celebrity crush? I kinda got a thing for Robyn. Oh, I didn't even tell you my favourite...Emma Watson. I'm in love with her.

IE/ TV show you don't miss?

MBF/ I don't miss any TV shows. I try not to watch TV at all. When I do turn on the TV I just try and watch a movie. I try not to get into any shows.

IE/ Last CD you bought?

MBF/ I just bought the newest Leonard Cohen [Old Ideas].

IE/ How is it?

MBF/ It's good! It's interesting, I mean...he's another guy who's kinda outta the box. He is one of the best of the best.

IE/ Alcoholic drink of choice?

MBF/ On show days I try to limit it to Jameson whiskey or like a Van Gogh Espresso Vodka...it's good! I usually have that with water, it's really nice. But I just became part owner of a brewery in Calgary. Yeah, it's called the Village Brewery, and we make like Village Blonde, and there's Black Smith. It's hand-crafted beer, but we're doing it like on a larger scale. Come down and have a tour any time.

IE/ Reality show that you'd like to be on?

MBF/ None! I can answer that one easily. NONE of them!

IE/ #1 song on your iTunes?

MBF/ I had a really big Fleet Foxes phase semi-recently, because it was like rainy outside and I listened to that on repeat for like five days in a row. "Obvious Child" by Paul Simon has probably got the most. Check it out...you have to get the Concert in the Park album.

Thanks, Michael!

Below is the official video for Michael Bernard Fitzgerald's latest single, "Follow" (2012). Directed/ edited by Chris Dowsett. 


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