As an Army brat, Mike McDonald moved around the country a great deal while growing up, eventually settling in Edmonton. Starting in high school, the singer/guitarist bounced around in several short-lived punk groups as the 1980s began, including Joey Did & The Necrophiliacs (infamous for playing the annual 'Smoke-In' at Borden Park).
They morphed into The Malibu Kens, releasing one independent single, "Be My Barbie." He busked the streets and did small solo acoustic shows in between time in Jerry Jerry & The Sons of Rhythm Orchestra and The Dusty Chaps for the next couple of years, until deciding to try something new and more in line with his always evolving tastes.
Forming Jr Gone Wild, the first of many lineups happened in 1982, with the brother and sister team of Tom and Adele Wolf on guitars and bass, and drummer Bill Pontez. They moved to Calgary where they played the Calgarian and The National hotels, but broke up soon after. McDonald took Hwy 2 back to Edmonton to re-evaluate things, but it wasn't long before he reinvented the band with ex-Malibu Kens drummer Ed Dobek. They pounded the pavement for another couple of years while developing a country/punk rock hybrid the critics dubbed 'cowpunk,' becoming one of Edmonton's most popular underground groups. They eventually worked their way across the prairies, opening for other alt-rockers like Rank & File, Kim Upright, Down Syndrome, and Facecrime (a precursor to Pursuit of Happiness). After a particularly successful set of gigs in Vancouver at The Savoy, they originally intended on staying on the west coast, but feeling homesick, McDonald returned to Edmonton without the band.
He reformed Jr Gone Wild with Dobek, guitarist Dave Lawson, and David Brown on bass, and continued working the circuit. They released their debut album, LESS ART MORE POP in '86. No actual singles were released, but with tracks like "Fine Scotch" and "Heather On A Bad Day," the band had a sense of humour, and critics were torn between calling them diverse, or simply all over the map, with country, punk, and cheesy surf-like music all blended in to the mix. Still, the record received good airplay on campus radio stations at colleges across Canada, as well as a few in the US.
By '88 the revolving door saw McDonald leading the charge with Brown and new drummer Paul Paetz. The cassette-only FOLK YOU/THE GUIDO SESSIONS was released the following spring, which was a collection of live tracks and various demos. Because it was several months in the making, it featured former members Lawson and Dobek, along with a number of guest musicians, including Steve Loree and Bernice Pelletier, both who would officially join the group later.
1990's TOO DUMB TO QUIT is generally regarded by the critics as their most technically clean album, now having signed with Stony Plain Records. Produced by Bill Henderson (Collectors, Chilliwack) and Holger Peterson, the music was shifting from pseudo-punk to a harder edged roots rock, with "I Don't Know About That" and "Obituary For A Fugitive." But the band's trademark wry sense of humour was also left intact in songs like "Third Most Stupidest Guy." Band members continued to come and go, and McDonald wrote the majority of the material, although Loree penned "Akit's Hill" and Dobek wrote "Radio Sussy" and "Faust," while David Brown wrote the uncharacterically intimate ballad, "Sleep With A Stranger."
For PULL THE GOALIE in '92, the band was now McDonald and Brown, augmented by new guitarist Chris Smith and drummer Larry Shelast. Leaning towards the country side of the fence, the band experimented with the use of pedal steel guitar in a few of the tracks, but maintained their punk roots energy, evidenced in "What A Great Day," "Just The Other Day," and "Beat Me To The Door." As was usual, the album was getting decent play on college radio, but was largely being ignored on the conventional airwaves because programmers just weren't sure what to make of them.
They released LIVE AT THE HYPERBOLE in the spring of '95, which also featured warm-up local comedy act Three Dead Trolls In A Baggie, which unfortunately failed to ignite sales. They returned later that year with SIMPLE LITTLE WISH. By now the group consisted of McDonald and Brown, with Lance Loree and Bernice Pelletier. The album was more country-tinged than anything else they'd done previously, as well as the most lyrically personal, evidenced by the opening track, "The Guy Who Came In From The Cold," an autobiographical account of McDonald giving up the bottle.
But a dwindling fanbase and practically no commercial radio support led to dismal album sales, thus they were dropped by execs at Stony Plain. By the end of '95 the band faded into obscurity and everyone went on to other projects, or got out of music all together. McDonald would form the ill-fated Mike McDonald Band.