“I’m over here!” shouts Shawn Mrazek to me across the street, waving his arm wildly trying to grab my attention.
We meet at a park by Patterson Skytrain station on a beautiful and sunny day in Vancouver, and he is nothing but smiles and is very excited to sit down and talk. The energy and positivity from Mrazek was as infectious in person as it is on his debut solo album Thought He Was Dead.
Mrazek’s goal was to make an album that was entirely positive and full of energy and love. An album to make people feel better, something that listeners could connect to on an emotional level, and on those levels this album is a huge success.
“I want to help somebody. It doesn’t have to be that way, but I wanted to entertain that possibility,” says Mrazek in a sincere tone. “I had lots of demons in my head during the recording process and I wanted to make something I needed to hear. Something positive. Something joyful… I wanted it to be uplifting. Everyone needs a lift, right? Life is hard enough already. We need to be reminded why things are so good, not why they are so shitty.”
Mrazek hasn’t always had such a positive outlook on life though. He battled alcoholism for years and had accepted that is how the rest of his life was going to be. He was able to break through this roadblock and is now proud to be seven years sober.
In our discussion of this portion of his life Mrazek clarifies “Even if I talk about things negatively, it’s only because things are so good now.” Mrzaek continues, “Things can change. [On this album] I wanted to sing about good things. If people want to make changes, they can. People say that they can’t change. But people change all the time!”
Thought He Was Dead is an album three years in the making, but it is very doubtful this is the first time you have heard Mrazek. Over the past 20 years, Mrazek has played drums in bands including, but not limited to, the Evaporators, Doers, the Notes from Underground and Bossanova. However, now was kind of the perfect storm for Mrazek to release his first solo album.
“I finally got the courage to do something like that. Where you are putting yourself out there,” he says. “It’s something I wanted to do for a long time and I was able to stuff the negative voices away and listened to what I really wanted to do.”
Don’t get confused though, the album has been released under the project name Shawn Mrazek Lives!, but this is not a band. Mrazek did “95 per cent” of the instruments you hear on the album and all of these songs are his labours of love.
“I thought my name was kind of boring and I wanted to be a bit more exciting. Y’know, ‘Lives!’” shouts Mrazek with an excited step in his voice, explaining why he tacked on the “Lives!” at the end of the project name. “We all live through some heavy shit. And we’re still here. And that is awesome!”
Clocking in at just under 20 minutes, the album certainly packs a punch, and this is exactly how Mrazek intended it. And with lyrics that resonate through the album such as “Lets forget the past / and sing for today! / Because we’re alive and isn’t that good enough!?,” it is a quick enough shot of positivity to make any day a good day.
Shawn Mrazek Lives! plays the Biltmore on July 15.
By Joshua EricksonBC, British Columbia