Take one look at Michael Rault and the first thought that comes to mind is total rock n’ roll dude. Listen to his music, and you realize he’s a total rock n’ roll dude with loads of talent. At 21, Rault (son of musician Lionel Rault) has already released four albums, been a part of several bands including his most recent, Michael Rault and the Mixed Signals, and managed to capture the musical vibes of the 50’s and 60’s magnificently as a solo artist and multi-instrumentalist. Currently touring across Canada with Bedoin Soundclash and Charlie Winston, the Edmonton native filled us in on life on the road, what it’s like to have a musician as a dad, and why you’ll love his latest album.
Rault plays the Vogue Theatre in Vancouver on November 30. Free download of “Lay Right Down & Die” here.
How would you describe your musical style?
I generally just say rock and roll. There are a lot of influences, and they are becoming increasingly vast and varied as I move along from project to project. This album is definitely coming out of a lot of 50’s and 60’s pop, soul and R&B, with some punkier elements, some garage, some lo-fi… I guess that’s a bit of a description.
What are the differences in dynamicsri between being part of a band and doing the solo thing?
You get to do what you want when you are playing solo, or when you are the definitive band leader. Collaboration is great when you find the exact right people who all think alike, but all of the democratic bands that I’ve been in were pulled in too many different directions a the same time. Eventually I decided to go solo, just to try doing my ideas the way I thought they should be done, just to see if it would work, and I’ve pretty much been playing solo, or in my own projects ever since, except for a few brief stints in other bands.
You’re currently touring across Canada so do you have any good stories from being on the road?
Oh man, this is a hard one. I’m on the bus with Charlie Winston and his band and crew, and my sister is here, too. A lot of funny stuff has happened, but I have a feeling that if I tried to explain any of the stories they would just come off sounding really juvenile. Right now, we’re a day into the epic journey from Toronto to Winnipeg, and we’re stopped in a town called Cochran, Ontario for the next 12 hours. And we only have two more days on the bus until our next show. We plan on passing the time here in Cochran by bowling, hanging out in a hot tub at the hotel…and…I don’t know what else.
If you could jam with three musical icons, past or present, who would they be?
Oh, I just got this question recently in a different interview, but I was only allowed two musical icons… last time I said John Lennon and Fela Kuti, but I don’t know if I’m happy with that choice right now. Okay, for now I’m going to say I’ll stick with John and Fela, but I’ll throw Allen Toussaint into the mix. I think he might smooth things out. He’d probably provide some arrangements for what would otherwise just be a crazy jam session. Plus he might lively things up a bit, because he’s he only one who isn’t dead.
What kind of influence has your father had on your musical career?
He taught me everything I know on guitar, or at least all the stuff I couldn’t learn on my own. He showed me a lot of cool music, and between the stuff I heard through him, and the stuff that I tracked down on my own, I got to know about a lot of obscure music at a pretty young age. He has also reinforced my perspective on music in general throughout the years. He’s maintained a pretty youthful, rebellious outlook on life. When you talk to veteran musicians a lot of them are kind of broken by the music industry a lot of the time. It’s nice to know at least one old person who still has a fairly rock and roll perspective on what’s going on.
What are your favourite spots in Edmonton?
I haven’t been hanging out there a lot lately, but…The end of the world is awesome. It’s an abandoned sidewalk and road that collapsed into the river valley. All that’s left is a sidewalk that hangs out over a forty foot drop. It looks like the cover of Shel Silverstein’s “Where The Sidewalk Ends”. Also, there’s an abandoned wooden stairway that makes its way down an almost sheer cliff where the university campus descends down into the river valley. It’s pretty treacherous and you’re technically not supposed to go down there, but on a warm summer night, you can sit on the bottom platform and look through the trees down to the river and you can see the lights from downtown on the horizon. Both of those spots are great for hanging out in the summer. Otherwise it’s best to hang out at whatever venue is the current spot that cool bands play at. It seems to change every month or so.
Your shows seem very intimate and personal – is this something you’re conscious of?
Intimate sounds too touchy feely. I enjoy energetic shows, and I like to feel that the crowd is into it, so for that reason I find that smaller club shows are preferable. I like to actually feel what I’m doing, rather than just act the part of how I was feeling back when I wrote these songs. I think I’m looking for immediacy as much or more than intimacy.
For those who haven’t heard your latest album (Ma-Me-O) yet, what can they expect?
Fun songs about heartbreak and being lonely. A lot of reverb, echoes, yelling, pleading etc. Listen to it, you’ll get the picture.
~ by Caitlyn Holroyd
~ photo by Ryan Fujiki