Rosedale is probably one of the hardest working bands in Toronto as of late, probably because the one-piece act that is Mike Liorti, the self-proclaimed “Work-a-holic,” has been spending his time putting out unique stage shows, new music, and organizing a release tour for his new record, Again.
I was lucky enough to start my Saturday by talking with Liorti about his creative process, the EP tour, and his passions.
So, I understand that Rosedale is now a one-piece.
Yes, that’s right. A one man show!
A one man show. So, tell me about yourself and your direction with music?
I play the music I listen to. I play a lot of punk, a lot of alternative, pop, electronic, and I sort of mesh all these sounds together and create a brick wall of a bunch of instruments playing the same melodies at once, and sometimes different melodies and harmonies. And there is a lot going on with it.
I’ve been at this for a really long time. It wasn’t always one man act. We started as a four-piece. Then we got a singer and we were a five-piece for a bit. It went down to four, then down to two. And then it was just me. When I eventually went out and tried it on my own, I was getting way more success and a better interest from everybody after all these years of having band members. So, I finally developed a show where I could record all the instruments and essentially be my own band and sort of clone myself on a screen.
It’s been a lot of fun, and I know on paper it sounds crazy, but I think people are really drawn to the whole DIY thing these days, and what is more DIY than creating music all yourself? So that is sort of what I am all about.
Right, and just to go further on what you said, that it sounds like a mess on paper. You cloning yourself on screen, does that translate into your live show as well? Is it just basically you, and a whole bunch of different you projected on a screen?
Yeah, so essentially I make a sort of music video for each song, a little bit like a Youtube drum cover, and I will re-record all the drums, and record all the instruments of me doing it, and I edit it all together and basically have it on a big screen behind me. So, if you are not looking at me, you are looking at a big screen of a bunch of me playing all the instruments.
That basically ends up being like your backing track.
Yes, exactly. I am playing that backing track; some of it is looped, some is reamped onto amps on stage.
Would you say that leads to a pretty structured set, then? What I mean is, do you find that it limits your ability to improvise on stage and kind of change things up, show to show?
No. Actually, if anything, I feel I have more freedom than ever, especially musically. Because when you have a band, at least when I have had members, and the amount that I can get them to commit, it is like the show has to be more streamlined than ever. It has to be a specific amount of count time, or how long until we roll until the next song, or how much time we have in between songs. It is like it has to be very streamlined.
Which is nice; I like co-ordinating with bandmates and other people, and getting their flow into the mix, but when I know exactly what the track is going to do and how it is going to stop, I am able to take time in between songs and do things out of the blue that isn’t going to throw anybody off. I am the only mind that I have to keep on track. And even though the computer has everything prerecorded, there are gaps, and there’re even pre-recorded beats that I can do whatever I want to during. So if anything, there has been more freestyle and improvisation on stage than ever now that I have this video to play along with.
Now that you have gone down this path, do you think you will want to work with other musicians live again, or do you think this avenue is one you want to keep exploring?
I am definitely open to it! I mean, a lot of people have approached me saying they want to play drums or guitar for me, and I have tutorials on Youtube on how to play the songs, so I will send [the songs] to them and say, “If you want to do this, put yourself to 90 – 95% of the best you can learn and we will see what your schedule is like.”
Usually they just drift off, because there are so many other things going on in your life, especially when you hit your late teens / early twenties. It’s like you can’t really like just be in a band that is going to travel three months straight across the country. So, I think where it is at right now, especially [working as an] independent, and not having a budget to hire a band, I think I am going to keep doing it this way. But I am open to it. If they can be as full-time as me, then I think it could get to the level where the show is at now, but the level that the show is at now far exceeds any time that I had a band or temporary fill-in guys.
I have heard amazing things about your live show, and I can’t wait to catch the next one in Toronto. I believe it is the EP release show on September 6th.
Yes, that is the EP release tour kick-off; September 6th at the Horseshoe [Tavern].
Let’s talk pre-sale. How does the pre-sale of the tickets work?
Basically, I am working with a platform called Show4Me, which sets up a bunch of campaigns for each show. You go on, and get a free EP when you pre-order tickets. It is cheaper than getting the tickets at the door, and you get a free EP and a free download of the new single. I need to get at least ten of those pre-sales to play a show, or else the show will get cancelled. So, think positive, and promote it, tell your friends! Buy their tickets so we can make this happen. Go to Show4Me.com and pre-order your tickets. Get your free EP and your download and tell your friends about it.
Tell me a little a bit about the EP. It comes out the 6th of September, and there is the release show at the Horseshoe, but tell me more about the sound, the direction going with it, and what it’s about.
Well, it’s a lot more pop than the last releases, but it still has that rock-punk sound. There is still really intricate drumming, and the songs are still pretty nostalgic. They are about doing what you love, never changing what you believe in, and sticking to where you are from. It is called Again because a lot of things you do that love, you gotta do over and over again to get good at them. So, that is the theme, if you will, of the album.
The first single came out and is called “Space Mountain,” and it is about a rollercoaster ride. I was having dreams of that coaster, and it kind of became a passion to explore production. And that rollercoaster is something that is all production. It only goes thirty miles an hour, but it feels like you’re going 100 miles an hour because of the lights, because of the sound track. I thought that was so cool, and kind of relates to a lot of the bands I listen to. It is not really fast or like they are doing anything crazy, but it feels like you are flying when you are listening to them. That song is one of my favourite things because of how your passion gives you adrenaline, natural adrenaline. I think that is life’s focus. That is what we are meant to do with our lives, follow our passions.
This is definitely your passion. The EP is available on Bandcamp, Spotify, iTunes, everywhere, and you went with a DIY release, not just your show.
Well, that too is sort of not by choice. I don’t want to not release music because I have to do it independently and out of my own pocket. It is unfortunate that I do, I mean I would like someone else to pay for my music releases and distribution, but it isn’t going to happen. I am still going to put out new music because that is what I love to do. I love writing new songs and recording them.
My numbers have never been something to brag about, but the only way to get there is [by] pushing myself and my fans to share the new stuff, and the tour dates, and come out to shows. And [they] also get a great experience, a great show out of it. It is all independent, but maybe one day I can open for a really big band, or play a big crowd.
If you could play for any of those big bands then, who would it be? Who is your top choice to open for?
Oh, that’s a tough one. There are so many! Um, ultimately Blink 182 would be cool. That would be the most people. And it would be so cool to share a stage with Travis Barker. That would be the ultimate.
Pre or post Skiba?
I always tell people that one day blink will be a four-piece with [Matt] Skiba and [Tom] DeLonge because Skiba is going to want to play his songs and DeLonge is going to go back to playing his songs. A lot of people disagree on that, but especially with that So-Cal scene, it will happen. And that will be the day that Rosedale opens for Blink.
So, there is one question that we always ask at the end of every Bucketlist interview, and I am not sure your previous answer would maybe count for this one, but hell, let’s ask anyway! What is on your Bucketlist?
Man, there are a lot of things! I guess one would be… there are so many bands I want to see! I am wondering what is the most important one. I guess I still haven’t seen Dashboard [Confessional]; that would be a big one for me, because I listened to a lot of Dashboard in high school growing up. There are still a lot of bands, though, that I haven’t seen yet, and I am like, “Man, I gotta see them one day”. The Early November would be another good one, I know they are doing another big tour soon. That would be cool to see them.
And, I still haven’t gone skydiving.
Rosedale’s EP Again comes out September 6th, and will be planning a big tour to promote the release. Preorder your tickets here.
Written and Compiled by Danielle Kenedy
*edited by Kate Erickson