Not Dead

Riverboat Gamblers frontman Mike Wiebe counts his blessings

"I write a lot of songs about very negative stuff," Wiebe says. "So I just wanted [to try something different] because I'm not completely without hope, or I wouldn't still be in a band."

It's a powerful anthem, and it struck a chord with fans. They come up to Wiebe and tell him how much the song has meant to them. "It's amazing when people say that and it tipped me in a direction where — I used to be more guarded about writing, I'd write about the werewolf or something — and [on] this record, I kind of opened up a little bit more and put myself a bit more out there — which is cheesy to say in an interview, but it's true."

He's trying to take that same positive attitude and apply it in his personal life, where Wiebe describes himself as a "glass half empty" kind of guy, noting how "negativity is very infectious in a band."

Mike Wiebe looks past the half-emply glass.
Chris Parker
Mike Wiebe looks past the half-emply glass.

This realization has come not a moment too soon for Wiebe. Freshly back from a U.K. tour, Wiebe drove the band's van five minutes into town to get some grub on his birthday. But he forgot to check that the trailer was locked (despite being reminded), thus losing the bassist's instrument and assorted merchandise.

"I was grasping. 'You always leave the radio on too loud, so I didn't hear it when it fell out' — in my head I'm thinking that, but it was 'No, this is 199 percent your fault, and the other 1 percent is also your fault,'" Wiebe says. "The wound is deep and infected right now."

It certainly can't help that this is the same bassist (Pat Lillard) who took Wiebe's flying microphone to the mouth four years ago, requiring six hours of surgery that managed to save all but one of his teeth. Hard to imagine Wiebe is his favorite bandmate.

"Worst birthday ever," Wiebe says, shaking his head disconsolately.

But hey, he's still not dead.

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