Mike, a native of Stoneham, MA, didn't pick up his first bass until he was 17 and got a Peavey P-bass starter kit. "That thing was a tank," said Mike. "I'd played some guitars here and there, but never a bass. I fell in love with the sound instantly. I knew right then and there that being a bassist was what I wanted. I've always loved the drive that a good bassline can add to a song." Mike joined the high school jazz band shortly after getting his bass. "I was awful," he said. "I didn't know how to read music, I didn't even know what notes were which on the fretboard. But, the first thing I did was start playing along to every single record I owned. That gave me an amazing feel for the bass and how to get the sound I wanted."
Mike was surrounded by classic rock through childhood. "My dad, who is also a bass player, listened to lots of good classic rock - Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Queen, Yes, Eric Clapton, Steely Dan - a lot of stuff which I didn't get a full appreciation for until recently. We'd have 100.7 WZLX, the local classic rock station, going in the car all the time. I'd sneak his prized vinyls of the Beatles up to the living room and try to pick out each instrument." Mike broadened his musical horizons thanks to his younger brother, who was a budding guitarist at the time. "Paul got me into bands like Weezer, Smashing Pumpkins, 311... lots of bands that I'd never even heard of." Also, Mike knew his dad was in a band, and after hearing his dad play on a couple of old tapes, he knew that he wanted to be in a band too.
Mike draws from various influences to augment the unique sound of Downfall Road.
What got you into the bass?
My dad was a bassist back in the day - he played a gorgeous white Rickenbacker 4001. I heard him play on some of his old recording he did with his band, and I just loved the idea of playing in a band. The bass is the perfect sound for me - it's a rock-solid position in the band, and it leaves a lot of room for creativity.
How did you join Downfall Road?
I was already friends with Neil, and he and his girlfriend Kerri kept urging me to play. At the time, I thought that Providence would just be too far, and too much commitment. At a party, Neil and I jammed at a party and had an impromptu audition in Providence. I guess I just never left.
Do you have a musical style?
I try not to play completely in unison with the guitar when possible - that would just get too boring for the listener. I want to make it somewhat exciting, maybe give someone the same influence that I got when I was listening to songs way back in the day. I'm also a big fan of fuzz bass, which hasn't yet made its appearance in any DF songs, but who knows?
What are some of your biggest influences?
Besides my dad, who initially got me thinking about bass, I'd say some of my biggest influences are Robert Sledge (Ben Folds Five bassist), Matt Sharp (former Weezer bassist), and Scott Lucas (Local H guitarist/bassist).
What is your favorite album/song?
Oh man, pick just one? Well, my all-time favorite album is Pinkerton , by Weezer. When I first listened to its gritty, raw production, I thought, "what the fuck is this?" But I swear, I must have listened to that album a thousand times in the few days after I bought it. I am still in love with that album to this day. The passion in which Rivers sings on this is awe-inspiring.
What musician do you admire most?
What advice would you give to kids just starting to play?
Don't give up. It's hard at first, but I'll call upon the old cliche and say that practice makes perfect. Things will come together in time. Just have fun and don't make it your job.
Mike currently resides in Arlington, MA with his girlfriend Azad, and many, many pets.
For more info on Mike check out: Mike on MySpace