Mikei & CO
Who’s MIKEI & CO? How you guys got started in the musc scene?
Well I’m MIKEI, so it’s nice to meet you…[laughs].
The drummer, Eric, and myself came up in a group called Dear Dakota. We developed a nice following after opening for bands like The Academy Is, Mayday Parade, Motion City Soundtrack, and then eventually Steve Miller Band.
Jeremy [Dinegan, 2nd guitar], is more of a producer sorts, and Mateo [Velez, bass], is columbian, so he grew up with a lot of flamenco and salsa.
So tell us more about those days, I mean, the horrible past with bands disbanding and such?
Well Dear Dakota broke up right as Ode to an Ex made it onto Top 40 radio, which was pretty heartbreaking. But within two weeks I was living in Miami playing with the group Spinlight City. They had been around awhile and were making some noise. I was torn between going to Berklee or going on tour….I chose tour [laughs], but I did do study online with them while I was on the road.
When Spinlight City got off Warped Tour in Fall 2010, we got into the studio with Infamous, who has recorded Lil’ Wayne, Drake, and Travie McCoy. We thought we had pretty much “made it”, but ironically broke up a month into the sessions.
All of that led to pursuing music as MIKEI, because I knew I wouldn’t quit on myself. I knew I still wanted a band, so I pulled the best guys I could find in Gainesville and formed The Company.
How would you describe your music?
Ah the dreaded question! [laughs] Sometimes I say “Anti-Pop”, which is ironic because the music is essentially “pop”, but it breaks every rule it can. Tough enough for the boys, sweet enough for the girls.
How was it to performed at Jagermeister Tour?
There were some incredible moments. The audience was great, very captive. The response was better than I could’ve imagined. Portugal the Man was really cool to us, and the Jager never hurt…Except in the morning!
Talk to us more about your latest album “The Only Way Out Is Up”. How was the recording and writing process for this album?
When I moved back to Gainesville, FL from Miami, I began writing a song every day. I turned my bedroom into a recording studio and started recording all these ideas daily. Eventually I thought some of the ideas were pretty good and should take them into a better studio and see what might happen.
At this point I was playing all the instrumentation on the songs, but once I got in the studio I said, “no way!” I needed an ace drummer. So I called Eric and he did great.
Each song came about in a totally different way. With Stick Around I jumped out of bed with a girl I was dating and ran out the door to write the song…She must’ve thought I was insane! [laughs] Butterflies was written in about 5 or 10 minutes as I started to dial the phone, and Seeing Clearly was initially written in my sleep. I heard the melody and thought, “you better wake the hell up and sing this into your phone, pal!” [laughs] Runaway was actually written entirely on the piano, but I had to rework it a little bit to get it sounding right; the recording was very spontaneous for that song though.
What has been the funniest moment you have been or took part in while touring or playing at some gig?
In the early MIKEI & CO days, we were getting hired to play a lot of sorority mixers…Usually by the 2nd set, the girls were no longer in control of themselves…Let’s just say even a well-built stage will collapse when there’s13+ girls dancing on it.
I remember turning around and there’s Eric, not missing a beat on the drums, but there’s a girl tonguing him, and another one that has stolen his spare drum sticks.
Most of my clothes were stolen, but throughout the set they would pass up Jack and some other stuff, so we managed to get through. Truth be told, we really honed our chops playing a couple of those gigs a week.
Are there any plans for the future? Music video, tour, album…?
The music video to Runaway is being filmed now. Tom Davis approached me about doing a film score for the russian action film, Voye Voda…I told him I would do it for free if he directed a ‘knock out’ video for me. I was both surprised and excited about the concept of the video. It’s a bonnie and clyde type story.
In regards to the album, The Only Way Out Is Up is being released physically July 8th.
What’s your method at the time of writing a new song?
I’m inspired by everything around me. Things I see, hear, read in the paper, sometimes I’m inspired to write about other people, but it has to be something relatable, so that’s the challenge.
It all depends on the song; sometimes the words come to you first…The title or the hook, that’s always nice because then you know what you build up to. But often I find myself coming up with the melody and chord structure first. Then try to decide what emotion the music is reflecting and base the lyrical concept on that.
Once upon a time, it was impossible for me to write a song without all the instrumentation written as well. But now once I’ve finished a song I’ll bring it into The Company and let them have a go at it.
Do you feel you are moving on the right direction?
Absolutely, but I think it’s always an artist’s tendency to question their actions, even on the most basic level. It’s incredibly easy to get caught up in life’s meaningless distractions.
The trick is to keep writing new material…every day. It’s very balancing, but it’s the key to having really great songs. In the age of information overload, great songs is the only thing that will keep an artist alive.
Check out more at: http://www.MikeiGray.com