Canadian country artist Wes Mack has released his latest single “Never Have I Ever” which features finalists from Season 1 of CTVs The Launch, Sons Of Daughters.
“Never Have I Ever” features the signature pop country twang from Wes Mack, along with an incredibly catchy sing-along chorus and an infectious beat. This single was released in tandem with the release of the new film “Cold Pursuit”, a revenge driven, action-filled drama starring Liam Neeson, Laura Dern, and Emmy Rosum.
We had the privilege of connecting with Mack to talk about his new music, and to also talk about his new star-studded film. This interview with Wes was so great. We really got to know him and get a glimpse into what makes him tick as an artist. His candor and thoughtfulness to each answer he provided was really impressive. We hope you enjoy reading this interview as much as we did conducting it.
Interview With Wes Mack
Front Porch (FP). It’s so great to hear new music from you! “Never Have I Ever” is a great single that features Sons of Daughters – Tell us about the single, the inspiration, and a bit about collaborating with Sons of Daughters.
Wes Mack (WM): Get ready for a long story…I sat down with Jimmy (one half of Sons of Daughters) and my friend David Borys a couple of years ago and wrote “Never Have I Ever”. From day one I felt we had something special. By summer 2017 we had produced a complete version of the song that was very pop driven and something about it always felt off to me. Last summer I was thinking a lot about the album I’m working on and the music that really inspires me. Artists like Eric Church, Dierks Bentley, Brothers Osborne, Chris Stapleton, Kasey Musgraves, John Mayer, Fleetwood Mac…. I could go on, but I realized there was a common thread between a lot of the music I love as a listener. It was less glossy, more organic and less busy with pop hooks. I took a look at what I was doing and, I had to admit quite frankly that I was not making the kind of music I truly love. So it was a humbling moment for me. I feel like that word is often used wrong, like when someone wins an award and they say they are humbled. I think that is likely a moment of the opposite when you are riding high. The moment I felt though… that was humbling.
However, it made it very obvious to me what I wanted to do. I called a bunch of the guys I work with down to the studio and didn’t tell them why. When everyone arrived I said “I want to take everything we did on “Never Have I Ever” and start over.” I got some laughs. But I was serious. We got into it and I worked as a co-producer alongside my friend Jordan Orbek and Jimmy from Sons of Daughters. We came at the song with a new perspective: no more chasing a hit, no more chasing popular. And, it was the most fun I’ve had making music in many years. Felt like being a teenager in a garage band when all you want is to make music… no thoughts for the marketing. We just played the song, keeping it simple and adding pieces that felt laid back and not so pushed. And that is how we got a song that I think breathes and feels like it is played by people, not programmed you know? It burns slow.
Then I got to chatting with Jimmy and said I wanted to find a female voice to feature on the track and the answer became obvious. Jimmy’s vocals were already all over the song and I LOVE Chrystal’s voice… it has a classic sound to it and adding her to the song really added something special. So Sons of Daughters came to be the feature. It has been a joy to make this song with them and to be working with my friends on something that makes me happy.
FP: You are a fantastic and decorated director – do you have some ideas about the music video for this song that you can share?
WM: Funny you should ask. The music video is actually complete. I wrapped up directing and editing it a short while ago. So I can tell you this… It digs pretty deep into my life and the choices I’m making as an artist these days. It has less hard narrative than a lot of my past videos and a lot more imagery and scenes that can really be interpreted differently. I’ve grown to love that idea over time. Back when I was touring with Shania I met someone in my meet and greet line who told me what my song Before You Drive Me Crazy meant to them and what they felt it was all about. At the time in the back of my head I was thinking “that’s not what I wrote that about” but I thanked them anyways. That night I was lying in bed and I realized something that changed how I look at music and art. I don’t own it. The moment I put out a song it belongs to the world. I can write it however I want and put all the work in, but once it is released, I have to let it be free and up for interpretation. I think back to so many songs I listened to growing up and I bet their meaning to me is WAY off what the artist had in mind. And I think that is amazing. It means everyone can find their own way. And for me as an artist it means I don’t have to be so careful in choosing my meaning. I can give my song every bit of me that I choose to and then let it fly.
FP: What inspires you, or gets you in the mood/mindset to write and create?
WM: Hahaha… Oh man, I think my best creative moments come when they are not expected. In the shower, driving my car, cleaning my room up. It’s these in between moments when I think your subconscious is free to roam and I think it is far better at creating than the conscious mind. So I find my job is to drop everything when those moments strike and write as hard as I can and for as long as I can until the feeling fades. I think that’s how you can get ideas that otherwise you might be scared of or miss. They come to you, not the other way around.
FP: The country music genre has really evolved in the past few years, and has become much more approachable to the average listener – blending the lines of pop and country, or country and rock. What do you think about that, and what do you say to the people who are critical about this trend?
WM: I think diversity is great. I think that no two people will love all of the same music. And I think that country music is more like an umbrella these days with a ton of different folks standing under it. I like that there is room for all kinds of stuff. I personally love some of the more stripped and often traditional sounding music, but there are songs from all sides that make me happy.
FP: So far, 2019 has been a big year, and a busy one! You are in the movie Cold Pursuit playing alongside Liam Neeson – which hit theatres Feb 8, 2019. Was that as much fun as it sounds?
WM: It really was a ton of fun. Liam was a pleasure to work with. He was so kind to the cast and crew and had no ego about him. Acting across from him was a joy as he brings so much. He can really shift gears. He would be screaming in my face pinning me to a wall and then CUT! “Wesley…. Was that ok for you?” in the softest Irish accent…. Then back to “WHERE IS HE?!?!?!” the next moment with all the brash bravado of a father grieving in loss. It was a ton of fun.
FP: We’re not sure how you juggle your time. From writing, performing, acting, directing, etc. How do you do it all?
WM: I’ve been very fortunate to be able to carve out a career as a musician, a producer, a writer, an actor and as a director. I think the common thread is a desire to tell stories and express myself and honestly to have fun doing something that makes me feel free. The multiple careers often fight each other time wise and I think it would likely be simpler if I did less of them. But at the end of the day they all create joy in my life and allow me to tell stories in different ways, so I make it work. I don’t think there is a tidy answer here. Like most of life you take it one day at a time.
FP: And really quickly, give us your top 5 songs or artists that you are really into right now?
WM: Eric Church, John Mayer, Fleetwood Mac, Brothers Osborne, Dierks Bentley.
Listen to “Never Have I Ever” by Wes Mack ft. Sons of Daughters
About Wes Mack
Mack took to country music at a young age, fuelled by his surroundings in his home province of Alberta. At 11, Mack’s father taught him to play the guitar (he too was a musician, having had a number 1 hit song in Canada in 1969 playing in the Sugar and Spice). Mack spent his teenage years growing out his hair, playing in a band, and learning to write and play numerous instruments.
He moved to Vancouver with his band and received a degree from the University of British Columbia, and continued to cut his teeth playing in bars and clubs. As an indie artist Wes also leaned to produce music and direct music videos giving him another leg up and another way to create. Mack’s behind the camera skills have served him well, as he has gone on to direct 11 music videos including four of his own, which have earned him multiple CCMA and BCCMA nominations for Music Video and Director of the Year.
In country music, the Front Porch has long been a place of reflection. A place where you can look at the life you have inside that front door. A place where time almost seems to stand still, where you can get away. It’s also a place where you can go to observe the world as it passes by you. To think about your place out there beyond the driveway.