EMQ’s with MIKE WEST
Hi everyone! Welcome to our new EMQ’s interview with Wirral, UK based Acoustic Heavy Blues/Rock artist, Mike West. Huge thanks to him for taking part.
What is your name, what do you play, and can you tell us a little bit about the history of the band?
I am Mike West. I play what I call Bastard Country that fuses my love for Rock and Metal with Country, Delta Blues and Folk and it means I get to weave in and out of the different genres and scenes I love and play with so many great artists.
What Country/Region are you from and what is the Metal/Rock scene like there?
I’m from the Wirral in the North West of England and it’s an interesting one. Being right on the wrong side of the River Mersey casts a Beatles sized shadow over modern artists coming from this region, and you have to work tirelessly to establish yourself as a unique voice in a sea of tribute bands and cover singers.
The Rock and Metal scene is slowly but surely gaining traction and there are so many great bands coming out of it, like Raised by Wolves and Riptide Messiah, that hopefully in a few years will have the same foothold as the Punk scene, which is great in Liverpool.
What is your latest release? (Album, EP, Single, Video)
My latest release was ‘Dead Fish’, a single that came out alongside a Kickstarter campaign for Griff Gristle, a comic book by Madius Comics, that is great. It’s a Folk Punk Sea Shanty that was super fun to do and is available on all streaming platforms now!
Who have been your greatest influences?
Ace Frehley made me pick up a guitar, and Johnny Cash made me switch to an acoustic. KISS and Johnny Cash have some great ideas to take away as a songwriter to keep it simple, keep it honest, and keep it engaging. If you can keep that in mind when writing a song, you should be ok.
After that it is Blues musicians like Robert Johnson and Howlin’ Wolf alongside Kris Kristofferson, Black Sabbath and Nirvana to all blend together to do whatever it is I do.
What first got you into music?
Finding “Destroyer” by KISS in my dad’s record collection definitely kick started it all, and then watching their DVDs. There’s something about sitting down and listening to a full record that can definitely be taken for granted and just sitting there for a while and actually listening to something helps you connect with music in such a personal way. That’s why I don’t like listening to singles or if someone dares hit “shuffle” on an album, I’ll start it from the beginning.
If you could collaborate with a current band or musician who would it be?
I don’t know if I have any names but I’d love to collaborate with a Black or Death metal band and create some weird ambient noise together, or I’d like to put something together with some of the best UK Country and Rock acts, to show people what this scene has to offer.
If you could play any festival in the world, which would you choose and why?
Download. It’s massively mainstream, but at the end of the day its Donington and to play such an iconic festival and place would be a dream.
What’s the weirdest gift you have ever received from a fan?
I haven’t got anything weird, but I had a fan in Blackpool give me an illustration of me on stage, and that was amazing. To think someone took the time to draw it and give it to me was humbling and so cool. It’s hanging up next to all my tour posters.
If you had one message for your fans, what would it be?
Stay open minded. It’s so easy to fall into traps of “this genre is better than that genre”, or “this is mainstream, so I don’t want to listen”, and all you do is deprive yourself of finding some incredible music. I wouldn’t be where I am if I only cared about one type of music and I love discovering something that will surprise me. Stay open minded and don’t write anything off you haven’t actually listened to.
If you could bring one rock star back from the dead, who would it be?
Lemmy. It’s still weird that the Motorhead tour that happened every winter doesn’t happen anymore, and it still bums me out that what was once such a constant in the music scene isn’t there anymore. Robert Johnson would be interesting too. One of those musicians who wasn’t appreciated till after he died. To show him what he meant to the world would be amazing.
What do you enjoy the most about being a musician? And what do you hate?
Writing something personal and honest that connects with someone else is brilliant. It shows that we are never as alone as we think we are and, if you just reach out to someone, the odds are they will reach out back. Everyone wants to connect and it’s a beautiful thing to share.
The tribute band/cover act culture that decimates original music in venues is heart breaking. As an acoustic artist, most venues want acts to play cover songs while getting talked over and ignored by drunk people screaming out of tune to Sweet Caroline. It’s why live venues and pubs are slowly diminishing and takes its toll on the artists playing. Music has been so devalued to the point of being almost worthless that it will take a big shift for it to change. No matter how much you try and explain that all the huge acts started out somewhere so give original independent music a chance, at the end of the day they will just want you to shut the fuck up and play Jolene.
If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?
In 2018, the UK Music industry contributed £5.2billion to the economy yet venues are closing down, musicians have day jobs and can’t afford to gig regularly, and anyone who isn’t an arena act is struggling. Regulate ticket sales and abolish ticket touts and websites. Cap the highest price of arena acts, which sucks up all disposable income for the smaller acts and venues, and just put more money into keeping the small venues and clubs open. Everything starts at grassroots level and it so easily forgotten.
Name one of your all-time favourite albums?
Black Sabbath – “Paranoid”.
What’s best? Vinyl, Cassettes, CD’s or Downloads?
Whichever is the easiest way for someone to get music is the best. I didn’t shit myself over hearing War Pigs for the first time and wonder if this was the best format for it. I do enjoy sitting and listening to records for an evening and having that as the sole focus.
What’s the best gig that you have played to date?
I did a great hometown show in Liverpool with Amigo the Devil at the beginning of the year which was awesome. I’m a huge fan of Amigo the Devil and to get to do a gig locally as well is always a trip.
If you weren’t a musician, what else would you be doing?
I write and draw my own comics when I have a chance and just launched a podcast called ‘Into the Van’, so it would still be something creative and engaging. If you can connect with someone and create something that helps explore what you believe in, then you have to go for it.
Which five people would you invite to a dinner party?
I’d want to throw a BBQ and invite my mates round to just hang out. Music is important but sometimes you need an off day with a decent burger and some whiskey. It would be awkward to invite your heroes round and then accidentally poison them with undercooked food because you were worried about missing the story of Johnny Cash getting arrested for flower picking!
If one of my mates dropped out though, I’d get Bigfoot!
What’s next for the band?
“The Next Life” is coming out this year, my first full length record that expands on my sound and adds fiddle, pedal steel, slide guitar, and brings a new depth and level to these songs you haven’t heard yet! Then I’ll be touring the UK and Europe and popping up at some independent festivals along the way!
What Social Media/Website links do you use to get your music out to people?
Head to https://mike333west.com/ and you can get free music there along with links to all my socials. Sign up to my newsletter while you’re there!
Jaffa Cakes? Are they a cake or a biscuit?
Well they ain’t called Jaffa Biscuits…
Thank you for your time. Is there anything else that you would like to add?
It’s easy to go negative in the music scene. Envy can always rear its head when you see a band/promoter/whatever doing well, and it’s so easy to throw stones in this day and age, on and offline. It’s so important to remember we are all in this together and that the rising tide lifts all boats. Positivity and encouragement will be what builds this scene to greatness and supporting the upcoming bands will make it last. Stay Heavy my friends!
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