Indie Music Monday Interviews

Articles from Indie Music Bus

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Interview with Mike Grosshandler @mgrosshandler

It is beginning to look like we will only need Twitter and friends like @allindie to find great talent like Mike Grosshandler. The first time we heard Mike was on Butterflies Radio's Twitter Tuesday Live. The song "Status Quo" played and I personally loved it. We invited him for our promotions that very night and landed this interview a short time after. Please read our interview with Mike below.

Mike, as a musician who has experienced both being a solo acoustic act and being part of several bands, which do you prefer and why?

Well, both are rewarding in their own ways.  Being in a band is great since you get that chance to play off one another and create something bigger than each of you.  Sometimes you end up in a better place than you could have dreamed up on your own.  But being up there solo acoustic is a rewarding sort of challenge to me since there's no one else to hide behind.  It's just me, my guitar, and my music, bared out there for the world to see and hear.  In the studio, I think I like doing things myself a bit better.  I'm a bit of a control freak, and there's ultimate control when it's just you!  Especially with my own studio in my house, I have unlimited chances to try things out and see what I like best, whereas with a band, you do something decent, everyone likes it, and you move on.  There's often less time for experimentation, and I live for those moments of creativity.

Your story seems to be one of growth. Did you always know your destination or do your long-term goals change with each project?

I still don't quite know where I'm going.  But isn't life more about the journey?  I'm rather enjoying the trip, that's for sure!  I've been able to up the ante with each project I've been involved with, and for that, I'm grateful.  On Blue Skies Black, I was fortunate enough to play with six great drummers and a horn player with whom I hadn't worked before, as well as to have Phil Taylor (from Future Leaders of the World) sing harmonies with me on a song (Status Quo).  How many independent artists get to jam on their own record with a rock star?  Who knows where my next project will take me?  But I can't wait to find out when I get there.

You are basically the poster boy for DIY music. You set out to do things yourself and then stumble upon greater opportunities. Do you attribute that to luck, favor of the Gods, or just good 'ol hard-work and preparation?

Someone (maybe Thomas Jefferson, but don't believe everything you read on the Internet!) said, "I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have."  And it's true. Nobody ever accomplished anything great watching TV.  You've got to get up and make things happen if you want them to happen. 

Was it a difficult decision to convert your demo recordings as solo projects? Was there a fear of wanting to have more production on the recordings or did you just know that they were ready?

It was an easy decision. I made full-on demos of these songs before starting the album so I'd know what I wanted to do with them "for real" when the time came.  When I started out recording the album in earnest, there was a map to follow for the most part.  I deviated here and there as inspiration took me, but generally speaking, I was just doing what I knew I needed to do.  On one song (Sometimes), I actually used most of the original tracks from my demo since Chris Fisher was able to record the drums right along with them. I just had to clean up the tracks a bit instead of doing them all from scratch, which was nice!

Your current release "Blue Skies Black" took three years to release and we felt that it was definitely worth the wait. What was the process behind the time frame?

Thanks for the kind words!  This album felt like it was never going to get finished for such a long time.  I was wrangling six different drummers and a horn player in addition to my own crazy schedule with two bands and a day job.  I also started a family along the way.  But once the drum parts were all tracked, it was pretty much up to me.  I recorded the rest myself: guitars, bass, keys, vocals, and even some hand percussion.  So each part had to be done one at a time, obviously, which slows things down.  Then once everything was tracked, I got to work on mixing it and spent too much time trying to get the drums to sound consistent from song to song, which was a big challenge with six players in three studios over several months.  After driving myself crazy with it for quite some time, I finally admitted I needed some help and brought in Tim Lynch at The Recording Company to help me mix the album.  He took what I had and gave it the polish I was trying to give it myself but couldn't find.  I learned a lot in the process though, so hopefully the next album will be even better still! 

At the end of the day, what would you like your body of musical work to say?
I truly believe the only way to achieve a sort of immortality is through music.  Life is too short.  My dad died at 43.  He was a great musician and actually composed some really good music on piano.  I'll never forget him or his music.  I'd love to be remembered as someone who wrote some really great songs that moved people.  I want my music to be a part of the world's life soundtrack.  

Oh yeah, and if you ever decided to retire your signature fisherman hat, can you send it over to Independent Music and Media for their curated art collection of great indie musicians?

I love that hat!  It was sent to me by a good friend in Illinois several years ago. I wore it almost every day for many years, but I haven't as much lately since it's getting a bit worn from years of gigs and sun and rain!  I still break it out for "special" occasions, though.  Perhaps some day, if you're good...