Michael Munnik

Michael Munnik

BandFolkSinger/Songwriter

Great songs well sung. The sound ranges from gospel to grunge, but at its core are an acoustic ethic and words of value.

Biography

I was always going to be a novelist. But at a car show in Mill Bay, British Columbia in 1994, my best friend stuck a branch in the spokes of that bicycle. He suggested we start a grunge band - Ira could play the bass; I could play the guitar. For six months, we wrote pages and pages of lyrics. Then we got our instruments and learned how to play them. Threw those lyrics away and started writing songs. Songs became a far more comfortable medium for my expression - it was like sticking a novel in a pan and simmering it until only the best elements of the story were left, then singing it to other people and watching them respond right away.

Since then, I've put the grunge... not exactly behind me, but it shares space with folk, roots, country and whatever else comes to mind. I left the West Coast for Ottawa, Ontario, where I found a new musical community and new stages to play on. Finished a degree in journalism and English literature, married a lovely girl and moved to Scotland for a year. Music stalled a bit there - the year was mostly about good pints, long conversations with theology students and preparing cappucinos for Kate Middleton, who may yet become the future Queen of England.

Back in Ottawa, I started working with CBC Radio, which makes me insanely happy. I brought a bouzouki back from Scotland and managed to fill a conveniently emptied hole in Celt-punk sextet Siobhan. For my troubles, I've played shows, drunk local beer and driven and crashed vans (not in that order) in Finland, Sweden, Germany and the Netherlands. And through it all, I've kept writing and performing my own material.

I spent a notorious summer on a picket line a few years back, which made me reconsider how seriously I was taking that material. I cobbled a few of these songs together and asked some friends to play on it. The result was the 2006 EP Long Shadows in the Afternoon. Six songs is just the tip of the shoelace, though, when it comes to the songs I've written. So three years later, I'm at it again with a full-length record, I Am with the Hunters.

My music centres on my cheap acoustic guitar - the same one I used to patch through a distortion pedal and play drop-d punk tunes on all those years ago in Nanaimo. The songs draw their inspiration from the places I've walked and lived - the coast of British Columbia, an ancient pilgrim trail in Spain, or a second-floor apartment looking onto rainy Bronson Avenue. I've added a new bouzouki to the arsenal, as well as my latest love, the ukulele. I've come full circle, now, and I'm in Nanaimo again, ready to record some folk and bluegrass with Ira. Some things change, others stay the same.

Lyrics

The Expatriate's Lament

Written By: Michael Munnik

Why did I leave my home?
Three thousand miles and I don't know
I cannot justify
My actions when my eyes are on the sky
It's such a long, long way
I think about it every day
It's so much easier
When there's not much to think of here

The snow is coming down
And I'm listening to the sound
Of the seasons come and gone
Ontario is a mean old bitch
When she's got her white dress on
But still worse than the cold
And the snow that I behold
is the thought of you, far away
Reclining on the sand
With some ice cream in your hand
I hope that you can hear me say

You're in t-shirts and short skirts
And sipping fruity drinks
If this is February
Then I don't know what to think
Because it's freezing in the capital
The ice is raining down
And I wish I was where you were
I wish spring would come around

Pack up my bags and leave
Somwhere were trees aren't always green
Where people take less time
I can keep up - I'm doing fine
I'll learn to change my route
Trade sandals in for winter boots
And if you ask, I'm sure
A jack pine is as good as Douglas fir

But winter doesn't freeze
It's separated by degrees
From the summers on the coast
I'm constantly reminded
When I'm thawing out my toes
If this is bad for me
Then for you how would it be?
You'd probably collapse and die
I wonder if you'll call
And do you think of me at all
Or are you busy getting high?

You're in t-shirts and short skirts
And sipping fruity drinks
If this is February
Then I don't know what to think
Because it's freezing in the capital
The ice is raining down
And I wish I was where you were
I wish spring would come around

The trumpet blast of prophecy, O Wind
If winter's here, can spring be far behind?

Discography

Long Shadows in the Afternoon (2006)
I Am with the Hunters (2009)

Both albums have received airplay on CBC and community or campus radio. "Daughters of Etobicoke" from I Am with the Hunters was chosen for the Radio 3 Song of the Day podcast in May 2009.

Also contributed songs to or performed on:
Siobhan - The Patron Saints of Debauchery (2001)
Siobhan - Welfare State (2004)

Set List

Set list ranges depending on the venue. I like playing my own material, and in a typical set at an originals-friendly venue will play 80 per cent originals - tunes from my CDs as well as other, unreleased songs. I can play with the balance so it's more of a 2/3 originals 1/3 covers, or even half and half if that's what a venue and an audience expect.

I have a wide range of covers that tend to draw from early- to mid-90s grunge, americana and new Canadian folk from the late-90s to the present, and also strong singer-songwriter material from the 60s and early 70s. I most enjoy playing Paul Simon, Pearl Jam, Bruce Cockburn, Crowded House, and Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, but a top-5 for covers in my setlists would look like this:
Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard - Paul Simon; Weather With You - Crowded House; Off He Goes - Pearl Jam; Solsbury Hill - Peter Gabriel; Pocahantas - Neil Young.