Interview with Michael Webster
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
I started doing music when working in Scotland - I was in a job that wasn’t really for me and it was a lovely escape for me to be able to write songs and perform them at open mics and that. I initially did it on the down low, it was a different life to the one I was leading and it gave me a lot of room to breathe. I probably wouldn’t have been doing that job to this day though - when I finished I was fully ready to commit as much as I could to music! After university, I worked in a bar and would probably be doing that. I don’t usually think of doing anything but music now!
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
I’m a big fan of video games, watching movies, reading books, going out with friends and that. I often write songs about that which I experience, there’s a lot of inspiration from various things in my music, from tv shows, lines from books that I like, I even have some songs that are inspired from the books I’ve read haha. A lot of my inspirations come from my surroundings so going out and enjoying life is a pretty big creative influence.
How long has your band been around?
I’ve been doing music for about 8 years now - I’ve never expected to be able to get to a point where I’m able to self-sustain myself from it though! I run a lot of events, perform a bunch across Manchester and the surrounding areas and the Manchester music scene is a real lovely community to be a part of.
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
I’m originally from Preston, in Lancashire - over the years, my accent and dialect have become more and more of a part of my music. I’m a big fan of when artists utilise their background in their creative processes, and I decided to do it myself as well. There’s a rich musical history in the North West of England, with bands like The Verve, The Beatles, and Oasis forming a huge part of the cultural impact of British music across the world and it’s great to see a positive aspect coming out of the North, where it’s traditionally a poorer, less well-off area of the UK.
How did you come up with the name of your band and what does it mean to you?
Haha, it’s literally just my name. I know a lot of people who go by alter-egos, to balance their personal life and their music - however, as I said before a lot of my songs are written from my own perspective, therefore I think it’s pretty essential I just go by myself.
Tell me about your most memorable shows.
So many of the events I put on have been absolutely brilliant - even just the open mics, there’s such a variety of talent in Manchester and I’m always in awe to be able to put them on. In terms of shows I’ve played, I’ve got a bunch - I played a festival up in my hometown over the summer and it was mega. There was a whole load of incredible bands, it was super well-attended and I got to see so many people I’ve not seen for a few years. Before the pandemic as well, I put on an EP launch for my “paper dreams” EP; which was fantastic as I had a bunch of friends performing, supporting; and it was proper busy with a lovely audience!
What is your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
I played late last year at Gullivers in the Northern Quarter here in Manchester, it was fantastic - not only is it one of the loveliest places in Manchester but it’s got a real great history of bands, artists and that performing week in week out! I’d love to get on a bunch more shows down in London, a few of my friends have played some venues that look real lush.
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
I’d love to play a gig with Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile. Their music has inspired me massively as a songwriter, and their style is really something I can get on board with.
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into playing in a band and some advice that you would give to your younger self?
Definitely just have fun with it. Once you start feeling like it’s work or whatnot, you often lose a lot of creative flow! Also, don’t be afraid to take inspiration from all over the place - so much of my influence comes from things you wouldn’t really expect.
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
Just go for it. I often put things off cause I thought I wasn’t ready - but the best way to prepare is to keep at it.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
I’d say that most of my songs hold a special meaning to me - but I think one of the most important ones for me is one of my newer ones, “future sight”. It’s about moving to the city, away from my hometown and the shift in the whole gist of life and that. Sadly it’s not available to listen to unless you catch me live.. for the time being!
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
Two of mine are easily requested the most, which are “waterlines” and “consolation prize” - I think cause they’re catchy, and upbeat and fast haha. I often catch people singing along which is a bit mad to think about really. I think that waterlines is my favourite to play though as it’s a real nice riff and it’s a loud one so I always end up belting it out.
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
I often find it really easy to write nowadays - I can go through creative blocks but I’ve managed to get myself to a point where I can pick up a guitar and write almost immediately! Sometimes I can’t get it for certain songs, but I’ve got so many in the works now that I’m always able to just move onto a different track and get on with that instead. Often when I’m performing live I’ll find parts I need to tweak, certain things that need to change and then when I’m producing the songs I’ll add in more parts or change what I need!
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
There’s often a lot going on in my songs, even if on the surface they may seem relatively straightforward. A lot of lines are references to things, lyrics, or situations - sometimes I think I overcomplicate them a lot, but I also think that each line should have a depth to it. Often it’s a political point, or a comment on a societal thing - or even just my analysis of a situation that I’ve been in. I think the main thing that I want to do in music is either inspire someone to do something, or connect with them on a real, personal level.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
I’ve got a bunch of stuff coming up, both for myself and the label I run (Bread Records). I’m hoping to have a full release out by the end of the year, plus I’m working on a bunch of incredible music with others; and even got some brilliant gigs in the works as well. I’m super looking forward to getting it all sorted!