Mike Shannon’s journey has always been about climbing the steps up the Big Bus. This is Big Bus Dream. And Big Bus Dream has always been about the distinctiveness of the song, the hook, the colours.
Tell us a little bit more about yourself, how long have you been making music?
I have been making music since grade school. I am a product of New York’s CBGB post-punk club scene and played clubs early on with the Stray Cats (then Tom Cats). I founded 4thWard in 1998, after 9 years out of music and a year in the studio, the 1999 4th Ward debut charted on the National CMJ Top 100. The band played with Angie Aparo and Hootie and the Blowfish. Big Bus Dream was formed in 2006.
Some of your songs are about social problems, is that big source of song ideas for you?
My music is about social problems such as guns, violence. But much of the music is about overcoming adversity, realizing a dream. This is what Big Bus Dream is about.
Who are your main influences and who would you love to perform with?
Some big musical influences for me have been Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Lou Reed and Jeff Lynne. Today, when I think about who I would love to perform with the one thing that comes to mind is a symphony orchestra. This is not a stretch because my playlist expands country music to classical: Dwight Yoakum to Brahms. Regardless of this diverse approach, I am told people can tell it's my sound as soon as they hear the tune. I do believe having a unique voice is everything in music.
In times like this, what is the hardest part of being a musician?
I would say that the hardest part of being a musician today is that more than ever the fact that music is magical and the business of music is not is amplified: It is near impossible to make money in the digital age. You gain access to media platforms today but you need to be extra creative in merchandising to make money. This is an area I am currently exploring. Because this is all about what a Big Bus Dream is. Striving to avoid the "short bus" - to get up when knocked down, to strive for something better and to succeed when being held down. To gain access, through that perseverance, to ride the Big Bus. To fulfill that Dream...that Big Bus Dream.
What plans are in the pipeline for Big Bus Dream?
I am proud of the tunes on the 2018 My Dreams My Fantasy release. The styles of music are wide ranging but sonically work together. The new music I am working on does this as well, but I believe takes it to another level: A stronger level. So, I am super excited about this new music. It should be completed by early 2021. Other than the debut 4th Ward release, this is the longest I have worked on a project. We can thank the pandemic for that. There is the silver lining.