Mike Grubbs grew up under a piano.
As a kid, you could usually find him playing with his toys under his parent’s baby grand while his mom gave lessons. He eventually worked his way up to the bench, testing out the keys playing classical music, while his sister sang.
“I think my parents wanted us to be The Carpenters, me playing piano and she singing,” said Grubbs.
That dream didn’t exactly pan out, but as he got older, Grubbs eventually discovered his own voice — and what a voice. As the frontman of Wakey!Wakey!, the Williamsburg-based musician is a powerhouse, with the pipes to match his theatrical, heartfelt piano-driven pop.
Though you wouldn’t guess it based on first listen of his first proper studio album, “Almost Everything I Wish I’d Said the Last Time I Saw You,” Grubbs had limited pop influences growing up — classical or religious songs only in his musical household. It didn’t take him long, though, to discover piano pop masters such as Elton John and Billy Joel, and he never looked back.
Living in Brooklyn for the past three years has also helped inform the band’s exuberant, indie pop sound.
“The bands that are prevalent here, those sounds are very different,” said Grubbs. “There are no rules. Not to say M.I.A. is a Brooklyn artist, but I just got her album, and it starts with the sound of a chain saw. That doesn’t really fit into the classical format.”
Don’t worry, Grubbs isn’t about to stray drastically from what he’s made his bread and butter in and start laying power tools over his vocals. Though as he works on a follow-up to his last album, he plans on collaborating with his band members and incorporating their backgrounds, which range from jazz to also classical music, into his sound and seeing what sticks.
But first thing’s first: after a few weeks on the road, Grubbs is looking forward to a homecoming at Brooklyn Bowl this Friday and letting loose in his hometown behind the keys.
“This year has been insane. Right now, I’ve probably spent two-thirds of my time on the road,” said Grubbs. “New York shows are the best shows I get to play. Brooklyn Bowl is going to be a crazy party.”
Wakey!Wakey! at Brooklyn Bowl [61 Wythe Ave. between N. 11th and N. 12th streets in Williamsburg, (718) 963-3369], July 23 at 9 pm. Tickets $5. For info, visit www.myspac
©2010 Community News Group
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