Wil Mimnaugh is back in town.
Originally from Quebec, Wil lived most of his life in Calgary before moving further west a few years ago. He’ll be back in town Nov. 16 for a show at the Drake.
“I spent most of my time in Calgary, and then my wife and I moved to Vancouver Island about six years ago,” he said, in a phone interview from his home. “Basically, we’d been out here before doing shows and just fell in love with it.”
No stranger to the Bow Valley, Wil has played in Canmore for many years.
“I think the first gigs I had there were at the Grizzly Paw, going in on a dead night in the winter, to see if it could hold some customers and have them drinking beer while I played songs in the corner,” he said. The Drake, however, is where he loves playing the most.
“I was part of the Drake for a ton of years – the Drake has been amazing to us and we’re usually able to pack it out pretty good, so people drink and have a lot of fun, and we get to be up on stage and make some noise and have a lot of fun with those people,” he explained.
“However good or bad the career goes, those will be the kinds of places I’ll always play, because it just feels really good. And you get to walk off the stage and have pints with friends you’ve made over the years.”
This tour, which began at the beginning of November in Vancouver, will see Wil play shows throughout B.C., Alberta and Saskatchewan up until the end of the month. The tour is in support of his newest album, Heart of Mine, released in late October.
“I made it with my drummer and we’re pretty stoked about it,” he said. “It was an album that I didn’t need to make under any constraints or pressures or reasons.
“When I came home from the last tour I wasn’t done writing, so I thought I’d try to take advantage of it and not try to squash it. I’m not the most prolific guy out there, so when the window opens up, you got to take advantage of it.”
He made the record for himself, he said.
“It’s just something I wanted to do,” said Wil. “Having people involved and working with people is good, because you can grow from it, but I have yet to make a record that comes close to anything I do live.
“To be honest, I always like my demos more because the records get analyzed a lot, and there’s a lot of people involved and there’s a lot of decisions to be made and there’s a lot of compromising. I’ve made records I’m proud of and I’ve enjoyed the experience of doing it, but every time I sit in my little studio and bang something out and just not tear it apart, this says something about that process that is kind of like performing live, you just make a moment and however it goes – if it tanks or goes well – that’s the moment, so I figured I’d try and make a record that way and that’s what I did.”
Listening to the album, the music sounds all over the map, from acoustic and folk tendencies, to light rock, to heavier ballads.
“I’m not trying to form my own genre, I’ve just been a fan of music my whole life and that’s all I’ve ever done, is listen to music and watch movies,” he said. “All I try to do is take in visual imagery – I’m an illustrator and a painter from days gone by. I just listen to music obsessively and then I decided to pick up a guitar and started writing songs after doing covers in bars for years.”
Songwriting is about storytelling, he stressed.
“There’s songs that I wrote based on stories that I wanted to convey to people and it’s about words, literally about telling a story and whatever is supporting that story; it’s just that’s the vessel for it,” he said. “I love telling stories, and it just so happens I do it by singing and playing guitar pretty hard.
“The singer-songwriter tag is bigger than it ever was, and it’s cool again to play an acoustic guitar, but at the end of the day, no matter what somebody is doing with an instrument, they’re telling a story and I’ve been a big fan of that for a long time.”
Wil’s music has also found its way into new videos made by Travel Alberta.
“It’s kind of wild, to be honest – I’ve been doing commercial composition for a lot of years, and usually the client either likes it or they don’t and that’s it,” he said. “There’s no attachment to you as the artist, you’re truly anonymous, you score a piece of music and it gets played and you’re proud of it.
“But this one has taken me from left field – it’s strange and I appreciated it a great deal – I love it and I love Alberta, but it’s weird that so much exposure can revolve around something that you never intended. You spend so many years trying to get people to hear who you are with records; I’m totally blown away and grateful about it and I just have to take it in.”
The videos, along with other information, can be found on Wil’s website at www.ibreakstrings.com
For the tour, Wil will be playing with his drummer, Kevin Haughton. “He’s a sweet dude we met out here on the island years ago doing shows. He’s coming out for the entire run as my drummer.”
The Nov. 16 show starts at 9 p.m. and is $15.