Hey, How are you doing Mike?
I am doing good here in Oregon on stay at home orders with my family
Give us a little bio about you for those new to your music:
If you’ve heard my songs from the Romantics, you definitely will hear that sound in my new music. Although with these new songs, some have a much more loose framework, with a garage blues, gritty Rock vibe! “Not My Business” is over 5:00 mins. on the flip side, my other new material, “Carrie Got Married” is short 3:00 minute melodic pop. Imagine all this laid out on a bigger canvas! With not quite as restricted musical framework!
My older brothers had stacks of 1950’s Rock’n Roll & “doo wop” vocal group 45’s,(vinyl singles). When they weren’t home, My younger brother and I, would sneak into their bedroom, grab handfuls of vinyl and listen for hours to all the singers and groups of that era, most known, some unknown. Elvis had been drafted, Little Richard had retired to Preaching the Gospel, they said Chuck Berry got a bit to close to Sweet Little Sixteen and Jerry Lee Lewis was “banned” as soon as he married his second cousin.. When I started playing guitar I was 12/13 years old, I played thru grade school and high school. The first thing I learned, was the Booker T & the MG’s song, that Steve Cropper played on, was “Green Onions”, taught partly from a “real, touring” Guitar player, that lived across the street from our house, on Detroit’s far East side. My parents bought my brother and I guitars, after the Beatles and The Rolling Stones, came across. At first I wanted Drums. The British, next wave brought the Kinks, The Animals, and The Who, The Yardbirds, Van Morrison’s & Them, that’s when I really listened and learned! I sat up late at night, learning the chords, then playing their records at the slowest speed on the record player to learn the Guitar solos! Now, Coming from across the river in Canada, the largest Radio Antenna tower in North America, “Our” Motown. With song after song filling the air and streets around Detroit with thumpin’ Street-Soul Pop! Rhythm & Blues. We all know, About the same time Bob Dylan, The Byrds, The Turtles, then Buffalo Springfield, The Seeds, The Blues McGoos and more, Guitars were all over the radio and we were buying and borrowing the albums and sharing all we knew how to play! Now everyone was touring! (In the early sixties most local Detroit groups were playing music from James Brown, Ray Charles, Otis Redding at supper clubs, lounges and Frat parties). The British Blues scene were giving us the Bluesbreakers, Guitarists Clapton, M.Taylor, P. Green. The Detroit Rock scene exploded, Mitch Ryder The Mc5, Bob Seger, Terry Knight & The Pack (Grand Funk Railroad), Iggy & The Psychedelic Stooges, The Frost they became the opening acts and soon headling shows! They were putting out records, we were buying! Guitarists, Wayne Kramer, Fred Smith (Mc5); Jimmy McCarty, Steve Hunter (Mitch); Ron Ashton (Stooges); Dick Wagner (Frost). And getting tons of airplay from Canada and some nights heard as far south as Florida This was my environment, my breeding ground in this noisy, smoggy, 6 mos. grey, sometimes dirty Factory town, the music was the escape.. For couple of years, with my neighbourhood friends, I had my first band playing a few school dances before during Jr. High School, learning how to “make it”! Graduating, and prior to Romantics, years before in High School, Drummer Jimmy Marinos and I met & started playing together, in a new band a three piece, with a Guitar playing friend of a friend. Adopting a more serious effort with a lot of jamming, and us writing our own songs. With me now on Bass Guitar. We were always about original songs. Two or three days a week, we got together after school, late afternoons in the basement of mama Marinos’ house. All we needed was a lead singer! It lasted a year or two, she wanted her basement quiet, her son to quit wasting his time, get a job, or us to go play, play covers, make money! Most serious bands around the city rented a small store front, “soundproofed” with foam or hundreds of egg cartons, we were we on the hunt for a space too.. Around Detroit at the time, lead singers, a frontman, were the usual, & cliché’ ingredient for a band to, again, “make it”, with someone sounding like Rod Stewart, Jagger, Steve Marriot. Now we could sing a song or two, or hold backups but we were looking for Mc5’s Rob Tyner, an Iggy Pop, Lou Reed, a young Keith Relf, bluesy, raw! It was awful, We were getting call backs from guys into “middle of the road” pop and ????? Detroit music was floundering, Mc5’s splintered Iggy and band moved to Los Angeles.. finally the poles shifted, then came Max’s Kansas City & the Glitter Rock scene, Bowie, Mott the Hoople, Sweet, Lou Reed, and later CBGB’s the New York Dolls, Ramones, Patty Smith, Television.
You were the founding member of ‘The Romantics’, tell us how that came about?
Jimmy Marinos and I met and played together in a couple of bands all thru and after High School. We were always writing our own music with our own studio rehearsal space. Jimmy and I were still bouncing around The Motor City, we found a little rehearsal space and practically lived there. Five days a week writing, jamming, hanging with Rock friends.. played a couple of High School shows, no lead singer yet. We didn’t want to put ourselves out there until it was right. Our harmonica player, “singer” worked at the Cadillac auto plant making great money, bought a house with his girl friend, we instantly moved in the basement, “soundproofed” it, painted all the walls red and started jamming with a new Guitar player, wrote some songs in a few months, the guitar players girlfriend called CBGB’s and booked us a show.. The Motor City Rockers were gonna play NYC,! So Jimmy and I drove to New York, truck broke down in Ohio, but we eventually made it the 600 miles safe an sound, played the show, met Syl Sylvain, and went to see Johnny Thunders Heartbreakers, drove back home and band broke up! We took some time off, down time to figure what would happen next.. we’ll oddly it happened for us right smack in my face, Sex Pistols, the Damned, the Jam came out and earlier the Flamin’ Groovies had released their Dave Edmonds produced Beatlesque/ pop L.P. “Shake Some Action”. The rebel, attitude of the Punk movement, The Look & Sound of the Groovies, I had just bought their new record, and the Jam woke me up! It so happened, that months earlier Melody Maker had just published a full page photo oh the Jam in their throwback vintage MOD/ sixties look and style, black and white shoes and all. I connected right away, that combination with the mid sixties sense of the Kinks and Stones, with a bit of Mc5 Detroit energy and attitude, was the Ticket, I could write that sound, those tunes all nite all day.. and we wouldn’t need a Lead singer, a guy in the front controlling the band/ running show, the be all end all. Rather a band where we all sang and the whole group was an onslaught, a tight unit as one! Jimmy and I had met Wally Palamarchuk a few years earlier, he had a 50’s/ 60’s Rock’n a roll Revival group, including a Sax player, two girl backup singers, playing oldies covers, I heard they were playing a High School graduation or dance over in Hamtramck, a city centered, and wholly circled by Detroit! I went to the school to see the show, mostly to find out how he sang and handled the crowd. I climbed up to the window, looked thru the grate covered glass, it was a full on gym with a stage straight across from my view. Funny looking back now, I didn’t go in the front door, thinking I didn’t want to have hang & have to talk my way out if I didn’t like the show, or what he was doing on stage. A few days later I called Wally about getting together with us. I met Rich Cole when he came along to look at the electric at the building at the new rehearsal space. Jimmy and I had just found a new Rehearsal space.. (thinking back, somewhere in that time frame we got a call from Rockers Guitar player about auditioning a Girl lead singer Dee Dee Detroit. I think Wally came over on rhythm guitar, but it wasn’t in the cards with Dee Dee to play with us. At first I would just stay on Bass, having not led a band on Guitar since high school only about five years but I was reluctant at first, until we found out no one would or could play in the Chuck Berry, Dave Davies, George Harrison, style. All static rhythm, and simple Rock’n Roll solos! So we officially went four piece I switched over to Guitar, Rich Cole came in on Bass, we all sang lead vocals! I brought over a cassette of four new song ideas and then in a month we had a full set and our first show on February 14th at My Fair Lady club in Detroit with MC5 with two of the original members. The club was full of radio personal, the press and record label reps. for the MC5 showcase. We were asked back two weeks later to open for Mink DeVille. Our third show we played The Pontiac Silver Dome with Peter Frampton, Steve Miller and J. Geils Blues Band.
You are now taking the scene solo with your new music, tell us more about your solo music.
If you listen to Romantics songs, you will get a good idea of where I’m coming from: my sound, the guitar attack, attitude, chord changes. In my music you will hear more of my personality, my musical view, my heart. As I’m writing, first it’s inspiration, not thinking. Next it’s “how do I hear this being sung and played, without the tangles of another persons opinion or arrangement.” It’s all about what I hear, hearing what’s relevant to me and my life in my songs. I can add other players in the studio to get different colours to the finished “painting.”
Your new single ‘Not My Business ’is set to drop, what can we expect from it?
Some raw, hyper, high-energy, packed into a “had it all then lost it all” story above a Hi-Fi groove & 60’s/ 70’s radio hooks! I wrote this new release “Not My Business’ and played the guitars and bass and song all lead vocals. On drums is Brad Elvis from The Romantics and Elvis Brothers, Chuck Alkazian on piano. On Back up vocals is Chuck Alkazian, Rich Cole from The Romantics and Detroit singer- songwriter Meredith Lorde. Produced by Chuck Alkazian at Pearl Sound Studio’s, Executive produced by Mike Skill.
What was the writing and recording process like?
It’s different for each song! You never know, but you have to be open, and keep your antenna up, for things that will work for a song. First the title of the song came to me, then the chorus music to fit the title. Next the verse guitar rhythm part, a verse or two of the lyrics, then it’s edit, re-write lyrics, edit re-write lyrics. After all that I still need an intro. The middle eight was originally going to have lyrics, instead I thought a solo might fit good there, tried it, it worked
Describe the track in two words.
Rock ’n’ Roll
How is this different to your music in the band, meaning as a solo artist?
Well it’s me making the decisions on everything. It’s me writing all of the lyrics, the music, the arrangements. In the recording studio, the production, and engineering mixing and final presentation, art/design.. it’s a huge endeavour! Not to much different than with the Romantics just more on my own.
Will we see a video for the ‘Not My Business’?
Yes and there’s also a lyric video, watch it below;
What else can we expect from you in 2020?
We are planning another digital single or two, a vinyl ’45, E.P, vinyl album, and more!
Do you have any collaborations coming up, if so what can we expect from them?
I can’t drop all of the surprises! I have Wayne Kramer from Mc5/ MC50. He played on my song ‘67 RiOT about the 1967 riots in Detroit, when we both grew up. And he will be featured on another as song well! Ricky Rat guested on “Not My Business.” He played with the Dead Boys & Detroit’s Trash Brats! Plans are to have more music friends to join in with me as well.
Would you be up for collaborations if other musicians wanted one with you? and who would they have to contact?
Possibly, if the inspiration is right, the connection, the spark! But preferably it’s with musicians that I know and/grew up with, have a history with, someone I’m a fan of, that has influenced me.. inspired me, creatively! Or can add that special icing/ sugar to a song. I can be reached through private messaging.
What advice would you give to aspiring musicians not about the industry and just as an artist?
Everyday it’s the only thing on your mind, all that you think of! It’s your passion. If you’re a musician, read: stories, poetry, news, listen to other songwriters. This can help you lyrically. Listen to other forms of music: Blues, Jazz, Folk, Classical, Cajun. Eat it all up and spit it out your own way! Don’t get distracted by outside “evils”!