Joe MacLeod played a pop bassist on TV, but writes killer solo work in real life

Toronto Artist Joe MacLeod By: Sheena Lyonnais
October 28, 2008

Toronto-based Joe MacLeod is better known for investigating hauntings on YTV’s Gemini Award winning show Ghost Trackers and playing the bassist on MTV’s Kaya than he is for his bone-chilling solo music, but that is all about to change. 

It seems a recent string of bad luck including the cancellations of his two television shows and a family tragedy lead MacLeod back to his roots: songs. MacLeod played in a fictitious band on Kaya, but music has always been just as big a part of his life as acting.  His old band Day Theory was signed to Sony records and was featured on Mandy Moore’s movie Saved before disbanding a few years ago.

Pic of Joe MacLeod“The whole year has been a weird year for acting, but because of that I’ve been able to write so much,” MacLeod said.  “It’s always been there and after being in a band for three years I thought I always needed the band, but I am finally realizing I’ve got some stuff I can stand on my own two feet with.”

MacLeod launched his solo work at the beginning of September with a gig at Holy Joe’s.  The unexpected response lead to several more shows, including one tonight (Oct 28) at the Gladstone with Vancouver’s Honey and the Money.  Raised partially in Nova Scotia and partially on the road with his touring country/folk duo parents, MacLeod’s recent gigs serve as a unique testament to his childhood.

“That’s how [my parents] made a living, it’s how I was raised and supported,” he said. “I have really early memories of playing cards with waitresses in bars while my parents were setting up.  I still have flashbacks if I go into bars early or the next day; that smell of beer and coasters, it was my upbringing.”

Although this sounds all nice and innocent, especially when considering MacLeod was nominated for best host of a non-fiction children’s series at this year’s Gemini Awards, his melding of music and acting has recently lead to some much more badass behavior.

“We spent a summer in Vancouver completely living like rock stars,” he said. “We would work, shooting in these mansions and these clubs and then we would go out every night and party and be hung-over, but it worked because we were supposed to anyway.”

Promo Pic Joe MacLeodThe show alone was responsible for lost nights in Vegas and partying at the MTV Awards, but it also may have helped him land his recent acting gig on the series The Weight, where MacLeod is part of a three-episode stint about a group of college kids who find a massive quantity of cocaine and end up getting caught up in the world eventually resulting in their deaths. 

A darker role from his previous child-friendly gig on Ghost Trackers, MacLeod is shown swearing like a sailor and snorting lethal amounts of coke.  The show premieres on the Movie Network sometime in the New Year.

“I always wanted to be an actor and I guess I always was a musician and never really thought about it,” MacLeod said.  “I think I rebelled against music for a while even though it was always there, and I secretly taught myself to play piano and then guitar. I started writing songs when I was 18 and every time my parents were out of the house I would sing. Music is more personal in a way, but that is only because I fully create it on my own where as in acting you’re reading someone else’s words.  Even then you’re injected yourself into it.”

Joe MacLeodTo see MacLeod on television check out Kaya on City Friday’s at 10 pm.  If you prefer to see him play his own music, which is what I recommend, visit him at   For something entirely different, see if you can track down the unsuccessfully marketed MTV movie Monster Island, where a bunch of kids on an island including MacLeod have to save Carmen Electra from giant ants.

Check MacLeod out tonight at the Gladstone and stay tuned to TMS.  We will be announcing a TMS-related gig with MacLeod very soon.

All photos courtesy of Joe MacLeod.

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