In an era during which mediocrity and novelty are often rewarded over songs with political and social substance, Nova Scotia’s Mike Bochoff is quite understandably concerned about the state of music today. While it’s impossible to deny the impact of musical trends throughout the history of pop music, Bochoff, a native of Hartland, N.B., is perfectly content to take the long road to success.
“I’ve always been a proponent of songwriting, both as a fan and as a musician,” he offers. “That aspect doesn’t seem to matter to a lot of folks these days, though. With so much popular music today – not all of it, though – artists are just regurgitating something people have heard before. It’s safe in one sense because people already have a familiarity with it, but it’s also instantly forgettable. Will people still be talking about 2017’s best-known pop songs in 50 years’ time? I have my doubts.”
Bochoff’s aforementioned concerns take centre stage on “Spirit of ’96,” the lead-off track on his group’s latest release, Distractions.
Fortunately for the singer and his band – drummer Mat Budreski and keyboardist Stephen Hare – the release shows they are able to put their money where their mouths are. While the spirit of Joe Jackson and Ben Folds can be found in songs like “Spirit of ‘96” and “Glory,” the EP’s title track is a comparably more somber affair, highlighting the group’s musical versatility. The latter is something Bochoff is especially proud of, and is confident shines through in the band’s newest release.
“At the end of the day, I can only hope the songs we write and the music we make have some kind of longevity. I’m not assuming it will or won’t, but I am definitely proud of what we are turning out.”
It’s been more than a decade that Bochoff has been working on perfecting the art of songwriting. He initially got his start as a solo act and released two efforts under his name alone – 2007’s …In The Service of Madness and 2009’s Horror Culture.
After spending a number of years living in Western Canada, Bochoff landed back in Halifax approximately four and a half years ago. While he had been perfectly content being a solo artist, he says Budreski approached him with the idea of making music together. Budreski in turn introduced Bochoff to keyboardist Stephen Hare.
What began as another outlet for making music soon evolved into Budreski and Hare learning Bochoff’s solo material. Before long, they were backing him up in concert. Knowing they were onto something special, Bochoff decided the two of them were a perfect fit for his music and enlisted their help to make the 2014 release Start ‘Em Young.
“When I was performing solo, I never thought much about having a band, but we came together in such a serendipitous way, I think I would have been foolish to not take advantage of what these guys can bring to the table and these songs. I still enjoy playing solo, but at this point in my career, I prefer playing with Mat and Stephen more.”
As is the case with many independent musicians today, keeping the Mike Bochoff Band moving forward tends to be delicately balanced with full-time jobs, families and other “grown up” responsibilities. While going on seemingly endless tours of Canada and the U.S. is not in the realm of possibilities for the band, Bochoff says it is a love for making music together that keeps the group moving forward.
“We get out and play shows as often as we can, but we also have to keep in mind that each of us have responsibilities at home that need to be taken care of. To everyone’s credit though, despite not being able to tour all the time, we’ve found a balance that works for everyone concerned. When we aren’t out playing show, we are writing and recording as often as we can. There is never a lack of things to keep us busy.”
Although many outside of the Atlantic region tend to overlook the area when it comes to scheduling shows, Bochoff says he and his group have been fortunate to receive widespread support throughout the region. In addition to the traditional bar shows the group plays in all corners of the Maritimes, he notes the band also routinely plays intimate house concerts and off the beaten path venues, such as Parkindale Hall in Albert Country where the band is playing on Saturday evening.
Bochoff credits this diverse range of venues that has opened their doors to the group as having helped the group earn the following it has today.
“With a lot of places we play, especially in the small towns or communities like Parkindale, our shows tend to get better every time we go back. It’s very much a grassroots type of approach that we’ve taken to the band, and are fortunate enough to be in a position that it’s paying off – especially here in the Maritimes.”
What: The Mike Bochoff Band
When: Saturday June 3, 8 p.m.
Where: Parkindale Hall, 3434 Route 895, Parkindale
Tickets are $10, available at the door.