By: Kat Harlton
Multiple CCMA award nominee and actor Wes Mack recently released a new single “Never Have I Ever” featuring CTVs The Launch finalists Sons Of Daughters. For those unfamiliar with Mack, he broke into the country music scene in 2013 when he released his debut single “Duet” completely independent with no label, agent or management. The song reached number 9 on the Billboard chart and the video (directed by Mack) went on to earn two CCMA nominations for Video and Video Director of the Year. Since then Mack has written and released multiple top 20 singles and even toured with Shania Twain.
Seeing as how his past work has garnered so much success, I was curious to talk to him about the departure in sound and direction for his new single “Never Have I Ever“. Mack shares it was a combination of many things, but that at the core, it was about being honest with himself.
“I had a couple of conversations with a few friends and basically I just feel like I looked at everything I was doing and everything that I loved and realized there was definitely a disconnect. I feel like the word humble is used wrong most of the time, people often use it when they win an award or something, but I felt like this was a humbling moment. I had to admit that I was making music from a place of fear instead of a place of creativity. Not to undercut some of my other songs, because I do like them in their own right for what they are, but when I started stacking them up beside artists that I really love and admire, there was a disconnect there. It was frustrating because I would often write a song and record a song and get it to ninety percent of the way with a sound I really loved, and then change it at the last second to something that was maybe cheaper and the easier ear worm candy. So it was a big ‘aha’ moment and wake up call, and a positive one eventually.
To focus on his authencity as an artist meant Mack had to strip away everything and start from the beginning.
“We had a finished version of “Never Have I Ever” that was very similar to “House On Fire” in production, because they were both done at the same time. I listend to it, and right from the get go for that particular song I felt like since it was a love story, we had lost the truth of the song. I called the usual gang of guys I work with in the studio and I brought them down, and I didn’t tell them what I wanted to talk about, and I was basically like I need to re-do everything that we’ve done, I’d like to start over again. I got blank stares and laughs and I was like this is what I want to do. It was totally my baby to begin with and I had driven it that way, and I was like this isn’t me, it’s me chasing an idea of me.”
Over time Mack says he lost direction and some of his original musical inspiration, citing Eric Church, Brothers Osbourne, John Mayer and Fleetwood Mac as a guide for the type of music he wanted to create.
“My inspirations were not acting as my influences, I wasn’t allowing them to come through, so all of a sudden it was this new lease on life. I felt like we took the target off of the song, we weren’t aiming for radio anymore, I didn’t want to think about how people would respond, and what’s the hookiest part. The only thing I wanted to be talking about was what felt fun, and that changed everything. It’s so obvious immediately when something is wrong, compared to when you’re letting yourself be guided by creativity.”
While creating award winning music, Mack also finds time to pursue his acting passion. You can currently catch him in “Cold Pursuit“, a revenge driven, action filled drama where he plays alongside Liam Neeson, Laura Dern and Emmy Rossum. Mack plays the character of Dante; an overly ambitious young man caught way over his head in a world of dangerous gangsters and drug running in the small Colorado town of Kehoe.
“True to name, it was very cold. The main scene I’m in with Liam, we filmed inside of this kind of snowplow garage that was full of equipment and open to the elements, and we’re up on a mountain in full blizzard mode and we shot a lot of takes. I remember distinctly I had no sensation in my hands or feet by the time we were done. The process on this film overall was a lot of fun. What I really like about the film, is the script kind of reads like a black comedy and it’s very dark, but quite funny and I’m glad they embraced that in the edit. Part of me was nervous that it was just going to become an action film, when on the page it’s more like Fargo. There’s a very high body count but the film treats death from just the bleakest, most humorous perspective.”
For more on Wes Mack, please visit: http://www.wesmackmusic.com