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Five Questions With... Mike Plume

The veteran roots songsmith is justifiably proud of his new album, Born By The Radio. Here he reflects on his current approach to songwriting, the diversity of his influences, and a missed opportunity with Gwyneth Paltrow.

Five Questions With... Mike Plume

By Jason Schneider

More than 25 years and 12 studio albums into his career, Canadian roots singer-songwriter Mike Plume feels he’s got something intrinsically right with his newest effort, Born By The Radio.


Although the Moncton native isn’t as prolific as he once was—Born By The Radio is his first release in five years—the nine-song collection is proof that Plume is only getting better with age. In some ways his creative resurgence can be traced back to “So Long Stompin’ Tom,” the song he wrote to mark the Canadian legend’s passing in 2013 and was invited to perform at the memorial service.

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It led Plume to question a lot of things about the music business and whether he should follow Connors’ example of staying detached from it as much as possible. Plume maintained a regular schedule of gigs during those years, but his attempt to balance that with other jobs eventually led his family to persuade him to take another shot at music full-time.

Born By The Radio is the result of Plume taking his time to craft a subtle yet powerful record that ranks among the best work in his catalogue. He is currently on tour in western Canada, and for more info go to mikeplume.com.

 

What makes Born By The Radio stand apart from your previous work?

I think it’s the most concise album I’ve ever made. There’s not a lot of fat—if any—on the record. It’s very to the point, nine songs, 34 minutes.

Which songs on the album are you most proud of?

Tough call, I like them all. But I’m pretty proud of “My Old Friend.” I also like “Doing What Comes Naturally,” because again, it’s so to the point. We recorded a ton of instrumentation for that song and just kept stripping it back and stripping it back until we ended up with the barest song on the album. I think it’s a standout track.

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How would describe your artistic evolution to date?

I guess the longer I do this, the broader my influences become. Compared to my first album where I listened to, maybe, two or three artists over and over and over, nowadays there are hues and textures on my palette. I’m also less precious about things. I’m not scared to hack out a verse or do whatever I need to do to save a song. It has to flow. If it doesn’t, then figure out what’s wrong and get in there and fix it.

What’s been the biggest change in your life over the past year?

I think it’s been the decision to ramp up my touring schedule again really.

What’s your best touring story?

We did a show in New York City about 18 years ago. There were only two tables in the whole place where people were sitting. One table was occupied by our publicist and some of her friends; the other was Gwyneth Paltrow and a friend. She stayed for the whole set, so I assume she enjoyed the show. In hindsight, if I would have played my cards right, I could have married her.

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