Work on Mike O’Neill’s new album Wild Lines began in December, 2007. Waiting four years after the release of his previous album, The Owl, the lauded songwriter enlisted Charles Austin for guitar and Mike Clattenburg (creator of The Trailer Park Boys) for drums and began recording bed tracks. It wasn’t long until real life took over; O’Neill landed a job composing music for a cooking show, French Food at Home. While his work on the show earned him a Gemini, it wan’t until several years later that he was able to return to work on the increasingly-mystery cloaked Wild Lines.
O’Neill’s music career began with the seminal indie-rock act The Inbreds. The duo rose to prominence in the early ’90s, drawing the attention of legendary Seattle label Sub Pop as well as Atlantic Records’ imprint Tag Recordings. The Inbreds eventually signed with Tag, toured the world, and gained fans such as Matthew Sweet, Teenage Fanclub, Buffalo Tom, Evan Dando, and Dave Grohl. The band made two more records before calling it quits in 1998. In their time together they garnered two Juno Nominations. The bass and drums format helped set the band apart, but O’Neill’s songwriting was what made the band relevant to this day.
In 1999, O’Neill switched to guitar and set out to make his first solo record, What Happens Now? (Zunior). He employed an all-star band with Don Kerr (Ron Sexsmith) on drums, Matt Murphy (Superfriendz) on guitar, and Charles Austin (Superfriendz) on bass. Michael Phillip Wojewoda provided world-class production. The record was very well-received and was added to commercial alternative radio stations as soon as it was released. As a result of this exposure, O’Neill won the first annual Canadian Music Week INDIE Award (2000) for Best Alternative Album.
In 2004, O’Neill returned with The Owl (Zunior). The album was recorded and performed by him at his home in Halifax, NS. Released in a digital format, The Owl was unanimously acclaimed and cemented his reputation as one of the country’s most respected songwriters. Then things got quiet…
Eight years later, O’Neill is ready to release what Southern Souls calls his “pop masterpiece.” Wild Lines has sounds that range from the explosion of the noon gun on the Halifax Citadel to the intimacy of a phone call between friends. It has hip hop drums and doo-wop harmonies. Each song is approached differently, but because the production reflects O’Neill’s tastes, the songs bear a familial resemblance; they make sense together.
O’Neill explains, “There’s a feeling you get when you’re recording a take and you know you got it, that you won’t need to do it again because you can’t do it better. That happened a lot for me on this album. And because I made it with other musicians, I can enjoy their work and not feel funny when I say that I love this record!”