Interview: Wes Mack on new music, new movies and new approaches

(By: Angela McLean)

Wes Mack is a jack of all trades. The Alberta-born, B.C.-living singer and songwriter, who just released his latest single “Never Have I Ever” with Canadian duo Sons of Daughters, skyrocketed to country fame after scoring an opening slot on Shania Twain’s Rock This Country tour in 2015. Night after night, he crashed Twain’s set and jammed out with his fellow Canadian to her hit “Party for Two.” No big deal.

If you haven’t heard Mack’s music, you’re likely to have seen him in one of his many TV and film roles. On the small screen, he has held guest spots on shows like Supernatural and Legends of Tomorrow. Earlier this year, he debuted his latest box office thriller, Cold Pursuit, alongside Liam Neeson, Laura Dern and Emmy Rossum.

Fortunately for fans, Mack has no plans to slow down for the rest of 2019—it’s onto the next, and we’ve got the inside scoop. See what Wes had to say in Toronto about his latest projects, nightly duets with Canada’s godmother and dream biopic castings.

With “Never Have I Ever,” you said this is “quite possibly the warmest response” you’ve received to a song. What has that meant to you?

A year and a half ago, the recording was far more poppy, almost dancey, and it felt like it had drifted really far away from the stuff that I loved. I called the guys into the studio and was like, hey, how do you feel if we delete everything and totally start over. They were like haha, you’re not serious. But I was, and we ended up taking this whole other approach to it. One of the guys I co-produced it with called me later and was like, this is the most fun I’ve had working on a song in years. It’s been a real nice return to feeling good in music.

How did the collaboration with Sons of Daughters come about?

I wrote and co-produced the song with Jimmy, who’s one half of Sons of Daughters. I’d been thinking about wanting to have a female vocalist on it for a long time and we were just about done. Suddenly I was like, wait a second. Chrystal (Leigh) has literally one of my favourite voices of all time and Jimmy was already on the song a ton as a backing vocalist. I called him and was like, what if you guys were the feature on this, and they were on board. It had been right in front of me the entire time!

You also said that you wanted to go “somewhere totally different” when you made this song. Can you elaborate on that?

I wanted to have fun and approach it the way I would have approached making music when I was 14 and working in GarageBand not thinking about commercial success. You’re just thinking I have a guitar, this is fun, and you don’t have so many preconceived notions of what you want it to be.

What was the best part of “rocking this country” with Shania Twain?

That was easily one of the most fun things I’ve ever gotten to do, musically and just lifewise. You can just pay attention to performing because you’re so well supported — your duet partner is Shania Twain. Her band is spectacular, the crew is spectacular and the audience is spectacular, so you get to go up there and totally be a kid in a candy shop. She’s basically the godmother of Canada. I love her.

Tell us about your latest film project, Cold Pursuit.

You can slice it up as a revenge action movie that would totally play into the typical type of Liam Neeson movie. But what I think is actually really clever about casting him in this is that it’s actually a very dark comedy. In the Taken films, there’s lots of fighting and killing and he is very well prepared to do that, whereas in this movie he is literally a humble, quiet, snowplow driver who likes reading crime novels and is now sort of figuring out how to get back at this drug lord and his guys who are responsible for killing his son. How I factor into this is that I’m his son’s idiot friend and basically as a result of me being an idiot, a lot of people die. Still, the movie is really funny and it’s like, so bleek that you want to laugh. You need to.

Speaking of acting roles, who would play you in the biopic of your life?

People like to say I look like Ed Sheeran so you can probably get him to dip in for some of the music scenes, then you’d hire Rupert Grint to pop in for some of the dramatic scenes, and then to pad my ego we’d get Ryan Gosling to play me for a bit.

(Photo credit: Angela McLean/RUtv News)

What else do you have in store for 2019? Any plans to release your sophomore album?

The main thing I’m focusing on is the record, which should be out this summer. I am excited with what I’ve found on “Never Have I Ever” and to go back into the studio and approach the last few tracks with that in mind. I think it’s going to make it so much more fun and liberating to not be feeling like, how do we make this one a popular, hooky single. Instead, we can make one that makes us happy.

You’ve come a long way from your debut single in 2013, which you released entirely independently. What advice would you give to 2013 you, knowing what you know now about the industry and yourself?

Go with your gut on everything. Go with your gut on the music, go with your cut with the creative, go with your cut on the acting and go with your gut on the people you’re working with, because usually if something seems like it’s wrong it probably is.

Thank you, Wes. “Never Have I Ever” is available on all streaming platforms now.

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