Mike Liorti of Rosedale
KNOWING how hard it can be running a music career is going to seem…
like an insult to Mike Liorti. The man is a one-man wrecking ball who seems to have boundless energy, optimism, and passion for music. Based out of Ontario, Canada: not only is Rosedale a fascinating act in its own right: you are compelled to listen to local contemporaries and investigate Ontario in more depth. I have been intrigued by Liorti and his work ethic; how he keeps going and what new music is afoot.
Hi Mike. How are you? How has your week been?
Hey pretty good, thanks. It's been a long week out here on tour. It's about at that part of the tour where things just start breaking. Even just little things like pedals and gear housings. It’s been a fix-it kind of week for sure. But that’s how it goes when you have a lot of stuff; eventually, some of it is gonna break. I still can't think of a better way to spend my summer, though. It’s all worth it.
You started Rosedale in 2004. What was the spark or moment you decided you wanted to get into music?
We were a Pop-Punk band called Uneven Number for a couple years before we changed our name/sound in 2004 to Rosedale. The big spark that made me realize what I needed to do with my life, and also had an influence in our decision to switch to a darker/deeper sound, came from a show at The Kool Haus in Toronto with Boxcar Racer and The Used.
Rosedale is your band but you travel with a lot of musicians and support. What is that experience like? Are you ever tempted to surround yourself with a proper band or does a flexible approach suit you better?
I'd love to have a full-time band. Unfortunately, with how much I tour it’s a lot harder to maintain full-time members. But I gotta tour because, especially these days, I know having fans and creating fans is more important than having a band or members. Fans don't fall into place and you can't train them to.
You need to actually go out and give all of yourself to them and the best way for me to do that is to give them a captivating live performance they will never forget. I don't make music only to get fans, but I definitely need fans if I want to make music everyday as my source of living.
Full-time members that can't leave their home day-jobs only make me have to go back to needing a home day-job. So, until I find the right musicians who totally understand and support what I am trying to achieve as an artist (or at least enough to work with it on a consistent level of ethics/contribution), I just have to train and take anyone who can learn the parts and take vacation time to tour temporarily. Obviously, nobody’s perfect. But if they're not willing to try and sacrifice as much as myself then they are only holding me back. Yet I totally understand why any musician wouldn't devote their lives to my art full-time for all-time. I'll still always give anyone the chance to, though. Maybe one day I'll have a band again.
I see you have played a lot of gigs around Texas recently. What was the experience like? There is such a huge music scene there I can imagine it was quite intense?
From my experiences, East Texas is terrible. There's a lot of cool people that get it but good luck getting them your music. It's a tough place for new touring bands.
Every time I work on booking Texas dates the response rate is, at best, around 1%
The venues I do end up successfully booking usually end up getting double booked "accidentally", and have tiny corner-stages (which is the biggest "music is the least important thing here" sign a venue can have). The local bands are usually extremely late, or don't wanna play first or last, or break-up around a week before the show. And getting 'fans' to come out to the shows is near-impossible. I love my friends/band-fam in Austin & Houston. But the Punk-Rock/Alternative scenes have really gotta step it up. Fans, venues, bands, and promoters, I challenge you! It seems the more West you go the better. El Paso is cool. Again, only speaking bluntly based on experience.
You hail from Brampton in Ontario. What was life like growing up there as a music lover? Are there a lot of bands and artists or is it quite a quiet scene?
There has definitely been an insanely high amount if talent that has come from Brampton in the last couple decades. We had such an awesome little scene in the early-2000s. Like many suburban cities; every kid in Brampton and their cousin had a MySpace. So, everyone was checking out new local and touring D.I.Y. bands/shows every day. Consequently, everyone was so into music and influencing each other to grow their talents- whether it was promoting, producing, performing, etc. Music stores and venues were beyond comfortable! It was a really inspiring time for kids and it created some amazing adults and, some now; parents and even celebrities. There was also those local scene Wordpress-type websites where people would promote/gossip/heckle every band- big or small. So, the internet really inflated Brampton's already-blossoming and talented music scene.
But (also like many suburban cities everywhere) that all slowly diminished to basically nothing as smart-phones/apps./Netflix/Facebook/YouTube/Spotify/E.D.M./Covers0nly -...contemporary entertainment took over. Depressing, but It's really amazing to look back on and relate our generation to history. The industry is always changing and scenes come and go for reasons unknown until they arrive. I'm glad I was around the Brampton music scene and in that generation. It would be really cool to see an Authentic Original Bands scene start brewing up again in Brampton and cities alike. I definitely wouldn't take it for granted.
Growing up and starting to get into music, it must have been all analogue and tapes. Now it is largely digital and faceless (to an extent). Is it quite hard transitioning to a more ‘modern’ ethos or are you an artist that still does things in a ‘traditional’ way?
It's interesting because C.D.s replaced tapes, but nothing really replaced C.D.s. Even though there's online digital sales and now streaming, C.D.s are still the go-to physical product to play music. Vinyl and cassette is also making a comeback. It’s weird to say that
I'm behind on the vinyl and cassette trend but it’s true. I'd like to get Rosedale tapes and vinyl. But I probably sell more C.D.s than digital copies because they're at my merch. table and I'm always on tour. So I guess I am an artist who still does things the traditional way, or at least how I discovered new bands when I was really starting to get addicted to music
I'm not against the digital download world. It's a great movement. But the artist is getting wayyy too small (piece) of the pie in the streaming world. As much as we need to be on Spotify to be heard, someone has to take a stand and make things right for artists on there.
Canada often gets overlooked when it comes to new music in favour of America and the U.K. Do you think this is unfair? What makes Canadian music stand out to you?
I don't really understand the Canadian music scene. It's very clique-y and political because there's government grants and things like that for music. So everyone's very competitive behind the scenes in a really weird dog-eat-dog way. There's not as much teamwork as the American music scenes. I've only toured U.K. once so I can't say I know much about their scenes yet. But I do know they love a lot of North American bands. I think there's a fair amount of Canadian bands and artists that become iconic, though. What I find interesting is that lot of listeners don't realize these iconic Canadian bands are Canadian. Maybe because Canadians don't even really take pride in their artists until they've had success elsewhere. Or because Canada is often just considered another state to a lot of people. We should just get rid of the borders! No more passports/work permits!
What does the rest of this year hold in terms of gigs? Any plans to come over to the U.K. and play?
I would love to tour the U.K. again. If an opportunity came up that held some promising shows I would definitely take it in a heartbeat.
I love traveling and playing music in new places. And I have a drummer in Germany learning the parts and a guitarist in the U.K. so I'm already building my roster for whenever that opportunity does come.
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Being without a band must give you a lot of freedom. It must be pretty cool going around the world and seeing lots of people. Any cities and countries you dream of playing?
Yes, there is definitely a lot of freedom to do what I want. And it's great touring around seeing friends every few months like we just hung out last week. I'd love to play Japan. I feel like they would love Rosedale over there. All of my favourite artists do so well in Japan and they love extravagant productions so I feel like my show would be very appreciated. Spain and Australia would be cool too. I've heard a lot of good things.
Can we expect a new Rosedale E.P. or album during 2016?
The Delux will be coming out in November with the Rosedale documentary. It’s going to be great.
When it comes to writing a new song, what is the process like for you? Do you usually have an idea of the lyrics or does it all begin with a tune?
Every song is completely different. Sometimes, I'll have just a melody or riff and finish the song with that. Sometimes, I'll build off just a hook or a chorus. Sometimes, it’s just a song on
Sometimes, I'll have just a melody or riff and finish the song with that. Sometimes, I'll build off just a hook or a chorus. Sometimes, it’s just a song on piano or a full-band demo. and I'll write lyrics. Sometimes, I'll just write an entire song as just vocals in my head while driving.
Either locally or internationally: are there any bands you would recommend to the readers?
Briar McKay from Springfield, MO. Time and Distance from Charleston, WV. What Great Fangs from Wheeling, WV. Between California and Summer out of Orange County, CA. The Home Team out of Seattle. Plans out of Indianapolis. Third Place from Montreal. The Bus Tapes from Santa Fe, NM. Birote The Musical from Chino, CA. The Paralytics from Olympia are the nicest kids I've ever met and super-talented. I'm forgetting so many; I feel bad now. Just check my tour calendar because I always list the local bands and they're usually great.
Which bands or musicians did you grow up listening to?
Blink-182, Radiohead, Boxcar Racer; The Ataris, Newfoundglory, Boys Like Girls; Michael Jackson, Weird Al, Deathcab For Cutie; The Postal Service, The Starting Line and many, many more.
I know sports are a bit love of yours. Do you get time to indulge or does music take up a lot of time? Which sportsmen/women would you regard as your heroes?
I still play hockey every week or so whenever I'm home. I think I'm gonna start bringing my hockey gear on the road with me. I play some golf when I have time - and snowboard maybe once a year if I'm lucky. I'll play some basketball every now and the. Michael Jordan has always been a hero because he can't
I play some golf when I have time - and snowboard maybe once a year if I'm lucky. I'll play some basketball every now and the. Michael Jordan has always been a hero because he can't not be everyone's hero, really.
For being such a great sport you can select any song- not your own; I’ll pick one of those - and I’ll play it here.
If you could play the theme song to Jurassic Park I'd be stoked.