Music & Arts news from Southern New Brunswick

Split Personalities – An interview with Mike Wiggins

Mike Wiggins remembers the heavy scene hayday and discusses new projects

Wiggs and band38 year old Mike Wiggins (currently the vocalist of both A Code Of Silence and Quonset) has been a strong point in the scene for as long as most can remember, leaving his mark in every project he has taken on. Whereas he is now playing double duty, I also wanted to know what is it like to sing both Groove Metal and Country Fried Rock and separate the two? I had taken the time to find out and help our readers get to know Mike Wiggins: his history, his influences and what exactly is “Country Fried Rock?”

How long have you been active in the music scene?

Off and on since 1993, so 20 yrs.

Who was your first band?

“Plasma Jet” was my first experience playing with a band with Jason Freake and Trevor Kohout (both now with The Muted Pitch) and Greg Richard (Drummer from Blind Truth and now with Quonset). I remember Sloan’s “Underwhelmed” was a big hit back when we first started Jamming as I recall playing it at our practices and thinking how difficult it was to sing high like that, I think we had a rock-ish sound to the tunes we wrote. Jason Freake has the music on a tape, not sure if it’s been digitized as of yet, but still would be interesting to hear.

What is your earliest memory of the music scene? What was your favorite local show?

The Nauwigewauk Hall was my first delve into the local scene, I can’t remember who played the show I was at, it may have been “No More” or “Lizard”. I remember arriving home at midnight, exhausted from moshing all evening, completely drenched in sweat, and sitting on my stairs thinking how the show was so intense that I couldn’t wait to go back to the next one.

I remember Lizard @ The Nauwigewauk Hall. Those guys had so much energy and the whole place was a huge pit. It was a very intense show.

Also, Grimskunk at the Cellar was a wicked show, I believe this was just after they released the self-titled Album which we all played nonstop for at least a year. (Editor’s note: I was once required to bring contemporary francophone music to class. Guess what I chose?)

What was your favorite show to play? Favourite venue?

Blind Truth at the Waterfront was a wicked time. I remember the bar ran out of beer and had to bring more in just before we got on stage. Dave Flogeras (rythym guitar) stomped so hard to the beat while playing, he put his foot through the stage. Also, some guy busted his nose and he was bleeding all over the front of the stage, but he just kept on throwing up the devil horns and head banging (I can’t imagine that would be good for a broken nose, but he wasn’t feeling any pain). There was a crazy pit from start to finish that night, and I remember folks jumping on stage to yell along with us on a few tunes.

The Local was awesome, I enjoyed hanging out with the other bands in the graffiti room behind the stage. The stage itself was super tight and the room was narrow to the point that if you got anywhere near the front, you were automatically part of the pit.

 Who was your favorite local band of all time?

NYD (Not Yet Dead) We played a lot of shows with those guys and they always brought an awesome level of intensity with them wherever they played.

What was your favorite venue to attend shows at?

The WaterFront / WaterWorks/ Wat-ever it’s called now. On Water Street.I attended lots of fun shows there and it was always a good crowd.

 Who was your favorite band to open for?

When I was in “I am error” we opened for “The End”. Those guys pulled off a crazy set that night.

You are known for heavy music, what made you decide to play country (fried rock)?

HA! I don’t claim to be a great singer, but I do know that I’ve tried to push myself over the years to be as versatile as possible.

Blind Truth was my main metal output, Next to Red gave me the opportunity to sign more, I am Error was… whatever I could do to fit vocals over insane riffs/timings. However, the whole time I had been playing with the other bands, I continued to jam on an acoustic guitar with my buds at parties. After I am Error, I figured the next avenue to approach would be Country/bluegrass. So we started jamming with acoustic guitars, drums and a banjo to see what we would come up with, and it was fun.

The main idea behind Quonset was that we would have no obligations to play shows, it was just a thing to do one night a week. We’ve had a few changes in the lineup, and we’ve dropped the Banjo so Greg could get back to the drums(and a phenomenal drummer he is. But we’ve tried to carry on in a country-ish style.

What is the definition of “Country Fried Rock”

“Chicken Fried Steak” is to food as “Country Fried Rock” is to our music. Some tunes we create just need to have some more heaviness added in, but we certainly can’t be classified as a metal band

 You are also the vocalist for A Code Of Silence, these two bands are quite different from each other. Who do you look to for influences in both projects?

The music that is written influences me, so I am influenced by the other folks I jam with. I’ve never been one to write a complete song on paper, then fit the vocals over a song, that it probably the best approach, and I know It is a longer process to write as the song progresses, but I find it helps me find the groove while the tune is written.

Was Quonset a long time coming kind of project, or something on a whim?

Scott Thibodeau and I had been jamming a lot over the years and we always came up with a bunch of fun riffs. So when I moved into a house with a Quonset hut beside it, we started spending a lot of time out there with some beers and guitars. I can’t remember how it actually came to be, but I do know it was (and still is) pretty fun.

You started out on guitar in Quonset, what made you decide to both pick up the guitar for this project and then put it down and let someone else step into the role as guitarist?

I love playing guitar, and I love singing, and I did my best to do both, but I knew I wasn’t giving 100% to each when I performed, so I Stuck to what I knew best. I still play guitar at the odd Jam but Since We have Brad Dupuis (aka Rad Brad) as a rhythm guitarist, I don’t really need to fill that gap anymore.

 You and Deven Grant have a long history together in bands. Do the things you do in A Code Of Silence bring back any similarities of what you did back in Blind Truth or I Am Error or would you say it is entirely different?

Every band is a new experience altogether. With each different project you have different sources of inspiration that write music together.  Deven and I have jammed blues over the years A LOT so I am very comfortable writing with him again.

The writing process for lyrics for both A Code Of Silence and Quonset, is there anything you do differently for these bands?

I write more lyrics for Quonset because we tend to have a lot of unfinished tunes, so there are tons of ideas on paper in my basement. However with A Code of Silence, we are constantly writing and finishing new songs, so I tend to sit down with those lyrics more outside of jams.

How about for your previous bands such as Blind Truth, Next To Red, I Am Error, etc. Did you write differently than you do now?

I’ve never been one to write “Evil” or “Metal” lyrics per say, because I don’t see myself as that kind of person. So I try to push myself to write as much random stuff as possible (“Goiders” from I am Error is one of my most favorite written songs).

The writing process never really changes for each band though, I could have 1 verse for a song for weeks, or I could sit down and finish a song in 20 minutes. It depends on the level of detail I want to go into and the content I begin with.

What was your favorite song ever that you wrote to play live?

Blind Truth – Explosion of Thoughts

What are your favorite songs to sing live in each of your current bands? Why?

Juno (Quonset) is about the battle of Juno beach in 1944 where Canadians were first to land and take control. Standing in line (A Code of Silence) is about people who choose not to take flu shots. Both are catchy as well.

A Code Of Silence seems to be very active with shows where Quonset is a little more low key. Is there a reason for this?

We get together one a week in Quonset to Shake the Dust Off, gossip like old women, and write some fun music, most of the guys in the band have busy schedules and cannot commit to playing many shows, so it’s mainly 1 show a year thing, we’ve tried to record the tunes a few times but since we are not committed to playing shows, the songs are never really finished enough(in our minds) to record them.

A Code of Silence is more like.. we show up.. chat briefly.. run through the set list, then write new stuff and call it a night. It’s nice to have the structure with these guys and its more productive this way as everyone works on the tunes outside of the jams, and we also all enjoy playing the music live.

Do you see Quonset ever becoming active with playing more shows?

Maybe, when we all retire and the kids are all in college.

Do you have any goals with Quonset and with A Code Of Silence?

Only to write as much as possible, record it, and continue to play the music live.

When you finally decide to hang up the mic cable and retire from the local music scene, what did you want people to remember you by?

When do fisherman, hang up their gear and retire? I don’t plan on stopping until I am physically or mentally unable to continue.

1 comment for “Split Personalities – An interview with Mike Wiggins

  1. Minion
    January 13, 2014 at 3:51 pm

    Thanks for your comments, I strongly agree with all of these. I’ve also been fortunate to know Mike for a good number of years which made writing this article both easy an extremely fun to do. It’s a treat to be jamming with the guys in this band, Deven and Mike specifically where I grew up watching them and enjoying their music it’s kind of like watching your favorite band and hoping one day you’d get to sit in on a soundcheck and this has been one long kick ass soundcheck 🙂

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