At first glance, British folk rocker Michael Rosenberg, better known by his stage name Passenger, may seem like a new face on the music scene after the enormous breakout success of his No. 1 hit, Let Her Go.
Sure, the track has put the pleasant, polite singer-songwriter in the driver's seat now, but when you dig deeper into his story, he's actually been slugging away for more than a decade.
Starting in 2003 in a band called Passenger, he decided to carry the name forward for his solo work, and after the release of his fourth album All the Little Lights in 2012, which contained Let Her Go, he had a mega-hit on his hands, and a whole new world opened up for him.
And with the release of his brand new album Whispers last week (which debuted at No. 2 in Canada), there's more excitement than ever for the 30 year old.
Speaking down the line from Switzerland just before a festival gig, Passenger talked about his unique way of warming up for tours, his Canadian connection and if he ever gets tired of playing his 5-times Platinum tune.
Is there any more excitement with the release of Whispers given the enormous success that you've had of late?
There’s definitely more excitement. I think this is the first time I've been able to release an album to anyone that cares. It's a phenomenal feeling.
Did your huge success with Let Her Go change the way you recorded this album?
I don't think so. A lot of the songs had been written by the time Let Her Go actually started to do what it did. I had the bulk of this record written so it wasn't that kind of sense of 'Oh crap, I better write another album really quickly.'
You have a Canadian connection - the folk trio The Once, who hail from Newfoundland, played on your new album. How did that come about?
I did a Celtic radio session in Scotland and they were the guests performing and I happened to turn up and they absolutely blew my mind. Their harmonies are incredible, they're brilliant musicians, and their songs are lovely. I just had to go and talk to them and we ended up collaborating.
You busk as a way of warming up for a tour. Why?
I'm aware that not everyone can afford a ticket, not everyone is old enough to get into a gig or some people might feel too old to go, so it's offering people another opportunity to see the show. It's inclusive, it's something I've always done and really good for me to do on a personal level.
Let Her Go obviously touched a chord with millions of people. What does the song mean to you? Do you ever get tired of playing it?
I don't get tired of playing it even though I've played it four-and-a-half billion times... every time is different. I just feel very grateful towards it because that song opened millions of ears to what I do. Initially it's that track that people hear, but then they check out the other five records I've made and become Passenger fans through that song. I feel very fortunate.
Passenger's North American dates (with The Once and Stu Larsen):
Sat, Aug 2 Atlanta, GA @ Buckhead Theatre (sold-out)
Sun, Aug 3 Nashville, TN @ Marathon Music Works
Tue, Aug 5 Charlotte, NC @ Amos’ Southend
Wed, Aug 6 Washington, DC @ Echostage
Fri, Aug 8 Philadelphia, PA @ Electric Factory
Sun, Aug 10 New York, NY @ Central Park Summerstage (free show)
Wed, Aug 13 Boston, MA @ House of Blues (sold-out)
Thur, Aug 14 Montreal, QC @ Metropolis (sold-out)
Sat, Aug 16 Toronto, ON @ The Sound Academy (sold-out)
Sun, Aug 17 Detroit, MI @ The Fillmore
Tue, Aug 19 Columbus, OH @ Newport Music Hall
Wed, Aug 20 Indianapolis, IN @ Egyptian Room @ Old National Center
Fri, Aug 22 Chicago, IL @ Vic Theatre (sold-out)
Sun, Aug 24 Minneapolis, MN @ First Avenue
Sat, Aug 30 Austin, TX @ Stubb’s Amphitheater
Sun, Aug 31 Dallas, TX @ House of Blues (sold-out)
Wed, Sept 3 Denver, CO @ Ogden Theatre (sold-out)
Sat, Sept 6 Seattle, WA @ Showbox SoDo
Sun, Sept 7 Vancouver, BC @ Malkin Bowl (sold-out)
Tue, Sept 9 Portland, OR @ Crystal Ballroom
Thur, Sept 11 Oakland, CA @ Fox Theatre
Sat, Sept 13 Los Angeles, CA @ The Wiltern (sold out)
Sun, Sept 14 San Diego, CA @ House of Blues (sold out)Follow @johnwillms