TORONTO, Ont. - Singer/songwriter GM Paterson has "Got to be Real." And that's not just what happens to be the title of his band's sophomore CD. It's also because Paterson is a self-described "lifesty...
TRUCKER ROCK: GM Paterson gave the crowd at the Fergus Truck Show a taste of his country rock with a trucker edge.
Photo by Adam Ledlow
TORONTO, Ont. – Singer/songwriter GM Paterson has “Got to be Real.” And that’s not just what happens to be the title of his band’s sophomore CD. It’s also because Paterson is a self-described “lifestyler” – preaching the trucker gospel both on stage and on the road.
“A lifestyle performer is someone who lives it, loves it and breathes it,” Paterson said. “Lifestyle performers are actually very few and far between. There’s a big difference between a guy like that and a guy who’s just out for marketing.”
Paterson is a trucker by trade, a cowboy by hobby, and his music incorporates both aspects of his life.
“I think fellow drivers are really behind me because there are so many of us out here, but it’s kind of like a secret society – everybody thinks they know about truckers, but they don’t really know anything about us. Truckers identify with what I write because they’ve been through the same things that I have in one way or another. I can relate to them and they can relate to me.”
For Paterson, who describes his music as country rock with a road edge, music has been one of his first loves ever since he was a boy.
Born George Michael Paterson on Manitoulin Island, Ont., GM was raised in Sudbury, Ont., by a guitar-playing Dad and an Elvis-loving Mom. After playing bass guitar in a few rock bands in high school, Paterson eventually opted for a change in instruments.
“When I got into the whole horse training and country lifestyle, I got into playing guitar more and started playing the acoustic guitar instead of the bass.”
At that time, Paterson had only written two or three of his own songs. It wasn’t until he took a job as a truck driver that he felt inspired musically.
“Once I got into trucking I found that this songwriting thing was more of a knack than a hobby,” he said. “I soon started writing so prolifically and writing song after song after song, that I realized I was developing my own kind of sound and own kind of lyrics. It just kind of took off from there. Spend 12 and a half years in a truck and you sort of get a chance to develop something like that.”
But around the time Paterson started doing performances, former Wham! frontman George Michael had gotten himself into trouble getting dirty in a public washroom. Paterson soon realized that if he wanted to be taken seriously, he would first have to do something about his name.
“When I first started out, I was using George Michael Paterson. When I’d go into clubs, people would say to me, ‘Are you looking for the bathroom?’ The first time it was funny. The second time it was funny. But the third, fourth and fifth times, it just wasn’t funny.”
So now George Michael became GM – a suitable pseudonym for a third generation George M., and a tradition he also passed on to his son, George Mitchell.
Armed with a new name, a new instrument and miles of highway for inspiration, Paterson was ready to hit the road once more.
But he soon found balancing two careers could be tiresome, leaving little time to relax.
“There were many shows where I would literally drive straight from dropping off a load and get there half an hour before I went on,” he said. “It got to the point where I had to start working smarter. I started to put shows together that were more conducive with trying to run a double career like that.”
And it was corporate sponsors who helped Paterson put that plan into action. When companies like IdleAire Technologies, The Truck Gym and Kreutzer & Company got wind of Paterson’s country rocking trucker lifestyle, they were quick to get on board.
“I think when corporate backers see a guy like me, they see a guy that’s for real. I think it makes the sponsors want to be a part of a program that’s going to help me be successful.”
And it has. With one full-length CD released two years ago and another slated for completion this fall, not to mention numerous appearances at rodeos, corporate events, festivals and truck shows like the recent Fergus Truck Show, Paterson is certainly making a name for himself in the trucking world.
And at this stage, Paterson has no plans to give up either one of his careers, and hopes to continue both living and singing about trucking life for many years to come.
“I can go out there and sing about the road because they know that I know what I’m talking about. I know the pain of being on the road for so many years. I know the heartbreak. I know the highway like the back of my hand. I know the country like the back of my hand. I think that when you’re real like that, people have a tendency to gravitate towards you just because they find the lifestyle intriguing. It’s not about the music anymore. It’s about the man. It’s about the lifestyle.”