Hi Mickelson, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?
Thank you, things are great these days. Busy.
Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Plastic, Vinyl & Leather”?
PV&L is the opening track of A Wondrous Life which is funny in retrospect because I wasn’t even going to record the song. I thought it was too solemn and I wanted this record to be a bit more upbeat that previous efforts. Glad I did though. A Wondrous Life, among other things, is about the chapter in my life when I could finally have some relief from a lifelong struggle with depression. PV&L is where this story began. I performed all the tracks except the drums and I’m pretty happy with the dynamics of it.
Did any event in particular inspired you to write this song?
Ha, yeah well I wrote it for my therapist of many years who has saved my life on more than one occasion. She had never come to any of my shows and was finally going to attend one. I was going to surprise her with it but she never showed up…
The single comes off your new album A Wondrous Life – what’s the story behind the title?
The title is a bit sarcastic in that based on my personal experience, life is pretty much a pain in the ass and I’ve been much luckier than most. I’ve been blessed with all the good things in life including a beautiful wife and daughter and support from friends. But still for me, and I think many, many others, it’s hard to feel “good”. I think we go through life pretending and hoping we’ll eventually find some sort of peace.
How was the recording and writing process?
I am a full time producer when I’m I’n not on the road so I’m inhaling a ton of music every day. When sessions slow down I try to write. I only write a handful of songs a year and when I have 10-12 that don’t suck I begin recording my next record. It takes a while because I’m performing nearly all of it as well as producing/engineering. I’m already working on my eighth full-length. A Wondrous Life is technically my second Mickelson record but I was Fat Opie for five records before that.
What aspect of depression and personal struggles did you get to explore on this record?
I’ve already talked a bit about that and don’t really need to get into detail about my depression. So many people struggle with it and mine is no better or worse than anyone else’s. It just shows up in the lyrics if you listen carefully. I often create despicable characters which I suppose airs some self-loathing. “Motherless Son” from the record is certainly autobiographical. As you get older you may realize that what you thought was a great and normal childhood was actually pretty fucked up and makes us who we are as adults. I did lose my mother to cancer when I was nineteen and my relationship with my father was based more on fear than love. But again, everyone has this shit. This is nothing special.
What made you want to explore these particular themes?
I don’t premeditate, it just happens.
Any plans to hit the road?
Yes! I will do a week of shows in the Midwest in July, a week of shows in the Northeast in August and then a week of shows in the Northwest in October. You can find specific info at: http://www.mickelsonmusic.com/tour
What else is happening next in Mickelson’s world?
I recently completed a huge project I’m very proud of called After The Fire: Vol. 1. This was a benefit record I produced to raise money for those affected by the horrible fires in Northern California. I invited fifteen of the top Bay Area songwriters to record one original song each. We then did two great record release shows. We raised thousands of dollars and 100% of the money is donated to two organization in the North bay area. You can find more about it here: http://www.mickelsonmusic.com/after-the-fire-vol-1/
Due to the success of After The Fire: Vol. 1, I’ve been asked to produce a benefit compilation for Blanket The Homeless. On this I am reaching out to artists beyond the Bay Area as homelessness is obviously a national issue.