I was Michael inSPIREd by Metropolis of Canberra. Slightly confused at what I first thought was just a great covers band quickly evolved into a live Karaoke scene. Not being one to resist the invitation to jump up and sing with a live band, I soon found myself singing Summer of 69 to a tight outfit. A live band called Metropolis.
A super entertaining show where you can be part of the act if you chose or simply enjoy the quality music that’s provided. To find out more about this unique Rock offering, I grabbed the guitarist Michael Spire mid way through the night for an entertaining expose on the band and what makes them tick. Michael opens up about the life of a muso and how he combines his passion and family commitments with a sometimes challenging travel regime. Not too mention dealing with copious amounts of drunk people, like me.
Interview by Keijo and Michael Spire of Metropolis
Keijo: Found myself back the Basement and it’s becoming one of my favourite Belco venues. So who am I talking too?
Michael: You are talking to Michael from Metropolis.
Keijo: I’ve had the pleasure of watching you guys for a good hour and a half now and I would have to say, is this a Karaoke band or is this a cover band?
Michael: well we are a cover band but we also have the scope of doing live band karaoke cause everyone wants to get up and we actually call it “be a rock star for a night” everyone wants to get up and sing. Everyone loves the songs, they love the old pub rock songs and they want to get up and be a rock star so why not?
Keijo: Hey, I cannot agree or disagree with that anymore because I’ve personally just stood up and sung Summer of 69 and that’s something I’d never do but hey you guys inspired me, I love it. Is that something you set out to do as a band or do you prefer to do originals?
Michael: Well every muso wants to do originals and write their own song and make it big but when it comes down to it, people want to hear songs that they are used to singing along with and we play all the classic songs that people love to sing, the big choruses and big guitar solo’s. They’re out for a good night and have fun and sing along and dance along so we play what they want to hear.
Keijo: I’ve been looking at the set up and I’m becoming slowly familiar with the Basement sort of set up, and as far as live music goes in Canberra and band support, how do you feel about the venue?
Michael: Oh it’s a fantastic venue, they’ve injected a lot of money into this place and I think pretty much because the majority of the owners are muso’s themselves they know what muso’s want and they want to put the money in and make it a premier venue in Canberra and they’ve done that. It’s come a long way from 10 years ago being a dive, heavy metal club and now they have Jazz bands, they have quartets playing, they have the streaming jets playing, they have tea party, members of Kiss, Members of Iron Maiden playing and they have pub rock cover bands as well.
Keijo: So what is your band name?
Michael: Metropolis which actually came from a Dream Theater song off the Images and Words album one of their first albums so the song Metropolis, and we thought, we play in the cities and towns so Metropolis fits and it’s got a good ring to it and it’s unique.
Keijo: Absolutely, Metropolis fits for me. As a band member do you rotate through a lot of bands, as in players?
Michael: we are probably on our 3rd round of players we seem to go through drummers a lot and it is tough on the road.
Keijo: what is with drummers and band rotations?
Michael: I don’t know. They are all good but we are through to our 5th drummer at the moment. Not because we don’t get along, it’s the intensity of gigging every weekend, so the family life that gets into it which makes it hard but we love it.
Keijo: so you yourself are a family man?
Michael: absolutely, my wife’s very tolerant of what I do because she knows that I love it, it’s my passion it’s my release and I’m very lucky that she’s tolerant of it. I mean she doesn’t come out to gigs but she’s tolerant and we have a few nights together but pretty much I’m either practicing, working or away playing.
Keijo: can I ask how old you are?
Michael: I’m 44.
Keijo: and how many kids have you got?
Michael: none to myself but to my wife I have 2 step children.
Keijo: it’s a challenging thing to do, but we do what we love and we love our children
Michael: yeah absolutely.
Keijo: so we are back here (backstage), and we’re playing music and I’m seeing like, drunk people. Copious amounts of drunk people, including myself jumping up on stage and singing songs, how do you deal with that, is that enjoyable?
Michael: It’s very enjoyable, it’s hard to do sometimes. It makes us tighter as a band because a lot of the music is reliant on vocal cues but we just enjoy having fun and enjoy seeing people get up and sing along with us. We enjoy seeing them have fun too.
Keijo: So I felt the support of one of the lead vocalist, he was basically giving me cues, I looked across to you. You were giving me cues, I couldn’t get lost it was like follow the bouncing ball it was great.
Michael: that’s right and you know bands are like family so when you are playing together it is like a family atmosphere and you look out for each other and you just make it work to make it great.
Keijo: and how about the set list. Is this the standard Metropolis night?
Michael: yeah it pretty much is. We play a lot of country towns, they like the pub rock, they like the big choruses, they like to sing along. Funny that a lot of younger people like the older songs, they like the Eagle Rock and the Jessie’s Girl and summer of 69, so this is pretty much our standard list cause it works. It keeps us busy and keeps us employed.
Keijo: So let’s talk about that, we are in Canberra but you talk about regional towns. Tell me, where does Metropolis play?
Michael: well last weekend we were in Forbes. So we play Forbes, Parkes, Young, Cootamundra, Yass. All over the place, Wagga. Wherever we can get a gig. Wherever they will pay us well, put us up and treat us well. Like I said before, the country towns love it and they love bands from other areas coming to break up the monotony of their local bands and we like to travel.
Keijo: that’s fantastic because a lot of bands won’t travel. Is that something that you would put towards the key to success of Metropolis ?
Michael: oh absolutely, you’ve got to put it out there and people like to follow us on facebook and see when we are coming to their town and we get people coming from other towns to those towns to come and watch us and it just helps spread the word rather than just playing in Canberra every weekend.
Keijo: and do you rely on word of mouth or is it just Facebook
Michael: a lot of it is word of mouth and the gigs we do we generally get a booking or two out of those gigs and people will recommend to their friends to come and watch us because there is a party coming up and they will recommend us to their friends.
Keijo: I’ve taken up enough of your time, you guys have got to get back and stage and kill it out there. I’ve been loving it, the crowds been loving it by the way, we are coming up to Christmas, it’s Canberra, it’s what it is and we get to that pointy end of the night, let’s do it, thanks again for your time.
Michael: no worries, thanks Paul