Bill Meikle's Music Background:
I was a pretty average kid, took some piano lessons when I was
4 or 5 or 6,
and then quit for a while. In grade 8 I'd been messing around on the
enough that I asked for lessons. Edna O'Reilly was my teacher...
By grade 10 I was writing a school play's music at Magee Secondary in
and winning the yearly award for best creative... I was getting pretty
good at the
sax by then, and studying with Tom Keenlyside.
In the summer of grade 11 I first attended Banff centre of the fine
arts and studied with all the
canadian heavies like Phil Nimmons, Pat Labarbara, Rob McConnel and
By grade 12 I was pretty hot. Our jazz band won the Canadian Stage Band
Festival in Ottawa,
I was awarded to the Canadian Allstar Band, and I was starting to gig
We also had a championship Jazz choir with a ruthless director who forced
us to blend or else...
Probably the biggest ego-building moments of my life were in that years
school musical 'a myth conception'.
I wrote a lot of the music for that show and I was it's star, and we
got standing ovations every night...
It's kind of sad to admit that that was some of the most polished rehearsed
work I've ever been involved in...
Barb McColl was the Drama teacher who wrote the show with us...
in 1981 I went to Music School. Humber College in Toronto on a
I studied with Pat Labarbara. He had toured with Buddy Rich for years
as his Tenor Sax
soloist. Big Band Jazz.
By '82 I had quit school and joined a band, Idle Eyes, and was living
This was also when I played with Jazz heavies like Reenee Rosnes, who
now lives in New York
and plays with the best. I even had a big band with her on piano. (she's
the best accompaniast I've
ever played with)
I played with Hugh Fraser quite a bit, in VEJI the vancouver ensemble
of jazz improvisation, and
other combos and gigs...
Did tons of wedding and conventions with various acts, one summer I
played the football games with
Some summers I taugh music at camp norwester in Washington State.
I played extremely bad guitar and sang (yikes!)
Idle eyes went on to have a gold record and win a juno award. My last
tour with them
was in 89 or 90. I wasn't with them when they got to play for
the queen, which is a bummer,
but my name is on the back of the gold single "Tokyo Rose". I got a
writing credit for the song
called 'uniform' on the other side.
In the late '80's I did a lot of recording. We made 'vancouver childrens
songs' in a few weeks
and sold 1000 at expo 86. I started my own record label and produced
a few albums for people.
I was still writing music for the Magee musicals in '87. Seven years
after I graduated from there...
I think I did at least 4, with about 20 or 30 songs in each...of all styles.
That was my compositional sandbox.
The trick was always to write a real variety of styles. I probably
wrote and saw performed by large ensembles at least 100 things before I
In '85 I got a grant to write a rock opera for the United Nations Year
of the Youth. (I was 22 which
was as old as you could be and still be a youth I think) and after it's
run at the festival it played for a week in a small theatre in Vancouver.
Mango Dub was an 8 piece band I gigged with a lot in
the late '80s. They played music from the islands mostly,
Ska, and raggae, and soca. That was great, such a solid rhythm section,
that band really got people dancing on the tables...
I got addicted to travelling around there, seeing the
world became my
real focus....and writing a damn novel... So I really didn't play much...
but there is a period of punk music that I want to make one album of...
In some ways I was too busy and at rehearsals to go through youthful rebellion
in my teens,
so I did it in my late 20's after I finished university.
I mean music was a lot of fun in my travels. 4 images come
-walking into a jazz club in amsterdam and sitting in. They like my playing
a lot and I stayed all night.
As well, they gave me a string of gigs for the next few weeks...
-walking down the street in Nairobi and seeing a poster for Mpenda Moja.
This was a raggae band that I did
a few gigs with in vancouver. I called them up and played some gigs with
them in Africa...
-meeting some japanese bohos on the roof of a building in china, playing
guitar and reading keroac. They couldn't
speak english very well, but I had a soprano sax. We played for days and
got into talking to each other in nonsense syllables...
-meeting some elder reed players in the desert in India. Rajastan camel
ride, came across these awsome musicians who circular breathed a drone while
playing melody on a second reed... Jammed with them a while on my hands...
(I play a mean hand flute)
In the '90's My wife and I built a house in a remote forest
and started a family. I taught myself to program and started a software
company. . I'd go out and jam once in a while... We were pretty poor and
I never had much free time or gear...but I always knew I'd get back to music
some day. I mean I used to make up songs for people on the
spot at parties...I breath tunage.
So now I'm playing again. It doesn't all suck.
I find being 40, bald, and diseased, without chops,
a real challenge for playing music. I mean did I just go back to this because
my fingers went numb and I couldn't play for a summer because of MS? Maybe
I feel things now I just couldn't when I was young and had chops... I always
like guys who played til they were 90 that's what I want to do...
I've travelled all over the world and played
in a ton of situations now, so I feel relaxed. Playing punk gives you a great
kind of 'f*** you!' attitude and you just keep playing... That's why I'm
liking it I think... I don't have to be anyone's pop star. I don't have to
lead the way into new cadence areas.(although I still love odd cadence) ...
I don't have to even be good. I just have to generate variety, and enjoy
it. And try to improve... Improving is the thing...