Canadian country/rockers Me & Mae are heading to The Hideout in Red Deer on May 3, fueled by the success of their latest single Love Me, Leave Me Lonely.
The upbeat song, co-written by Carly Rae Jepsen, has proven an infectious, radio-friendly powerhouse – and the band is relishing its reception by fans.
The song is the first release from Me & Mae, a new Canadian country project featuring Shawn Meehan and Jacky Mae. Influenced by everything from Johnny Cash to Dolly Parton, the band is not afraid to push boundaries on the country genre, and has something that everyone can enjoy.
“In the world we live in now, it seems to be more singles-driven,” explains Meehan. “We certainly have enough material for a record. Right now, though, we are releasing singles, building the story and seeing how it goes from there.”
Having put together an alliance of songwriting talent and world-class performers, this band is no rookie both in studio and on stage.
It all started when Vancouver country rocker Meehan tried his hand at writing for a different genre. With his rhythm guitarist Darrek Merrell, bass player Adam Reid, and drummer Kim Gryba, they built the idea of starting up a new project, a country project.
“I’ve been a writer for years, and I’ve always loved to write in the modern country genre,” he says, recalling early influences including his dad’s love for The Eagles.
“I decided it was time to pursue one of my loves, which is that style of music.”
Of course, finding the right singer was critical to capturing the sound he had in mind.
Trying something new, they auditioned female singers to find one suitable to be the frontrunner of the band. They held a radio contest to have a female singer audition for the band, and in a small city in northern B.C. they came across Jacky Mae. Her incredibly powerful, expressive voice won the day.
“We got to know her over the course of a year and the rest is history.”
Indeed. The stage was essentially set.
“I had some of the songs, I had the sounds in mind and I had the vision for the band. I got lucky as well in that I wasn’t really looking for a singer that could write, but Jacky and I were chatting in rehearsal one day. I said that I loved to write but I’m not a big fan of writing lyrics. She said ‘I love to write, but I don’t like to write music – I love writing lyrics’. I said let’s start writing.
“I have a good feeling that the next single or two will probably be a co-write between her and I – she’s a really good lyricist.”
Meehan’s love for music stretches back to his childhood. His grandmother was quite an accomplished pianist, and Meehan remembers sitting with his brother on either side of her while she played. “She would play all this ragtime stuff, and it was so fascinating to me.
“My dad was never a musician, but he had a great voice. Then my step-dad was a great guitar player. I would hang out with him while he played. So I had all these influences.”
Meehan had his own first gig when he was about 12 years old – a talent contest in his school. “I’ve been chasing that high ever since. I just knew that was what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. There’s no place I’d rather be than onstage. There is nothing like it in the world.”
As for single Love Me, Leave Me Lonely, it was before Jepsen hit it big with her international smash Call Me Maybe that she and Meehan had worked together on the cut.
Meehan, who had been giving Jepsen guitar lessons had co-written the song but realized that the lyrics weren’t quite right.
“I had met Carly. She had come to one of my shows. I’d written this song and everybody was really liking it, but I wasn’t happy with the lyrics.”
He ran the song past Jepsen and asked her to lend a hand in perfecting the lyrics. She agreed and her input helped create Love Me Leave Me Lonely. Meehan then had his song recorded and watched it take on a life of its own receiving praise from music’s best.
“Before our next guitar lesson, she had sent me an email with a whole bunch of lyrics. I chose a few, we threw them in and here we are about to release this as a single. And now, she’s one of the biggest pop stars in the world.
“This whole project, right from the beginning, has seemed a little serendipitous. There’s a lot of good fortune around it – we feel really humbled and really fortunate. We’ve also got a great team around us, so we are just looking forward to getting out there and playing.”