Usually, I am classified as an “Outsider Artist-Musician” by my contemporaries. I play Bass, Baritone, and other Guitars / Electronic & Junkyard Percussion / Keyboards & Toys / Plunderphonics & Noise / Sound Collage & Production / Words & Vocals. I also create mixed-media paintings and other art. I like to write and perform what I sometimes refer to as “Prog-Punk Noise-Rock”. It is a pastiche of everything that I like, in a Hi-Fi + Lo-Fi + No-Fi mixture. I collaborate with many other artists, often utilizing an unusual hybrid rig.
I have always been into art and music, drawing, painting, playing with tape recorders and making noise. I built my first guitar from a badly beaten-up body that I found in someone’s trash. A friend’s dad gave me the electrical guts from an unknown 1950’s guitar. I got a decent bridge and tuners from a music store. Some other parts I improvised from scrap and junk. Used vinyl LPs make decent pick-guards if you can cut them right.
I was just a runt of the Detroit Hardcore Punk / Heavy Metal scene back in the 1980’s. Lacking enough money to buy any decent gear, I purchased a cheap microphone at a pawn shop and passed myself off as a singer. I sang in whatever groups that I could find, to get some experience and learn whatever that I could. Mostly, it was shitty cover bands, playing in basements, getting yelled at by uninvited drunks that we suck. I later got into playing bass, as well as guitar. It turns out that I was a better bassist than a guitarist. I played in many short-lived groups that went nowhere.
I wrote for The Jam Rag, a widely-read local music paper while I was still a teenager. I made friends with other musicians and artists in the process. For a couple of years in the 1990’s I was a cameraman, roadie, and occasional collaborator with Detroit-area groups like Princess Dragon-Mom, Mog Stunt Team, His Name Is Alive, etc.. I also had a few experimental / noise projects with other people; Bionics, Edible Audio, Fresh Farm Raised Catfish, etc.
The Island of Misfit Noise began in the summer of 1998 with Mystic MarshaKat and I. We had both been members of N2-Submission, the S&M-themed backing band for The Impaler “Detroit’s Vampire Poet”. Our band’s name changed a few times. Many other musicians came and went during a period of 15 years, the two of us being the only constant members. She finally also left in early 2013. Then, the band ended.
I resurrected the group as a “virtual band” recording project in late 2014, with collaborators from across the globe. Exchanging music back-and-forth online until we had completed some songs, an EP was released. The style of music we make is very freeform, depending on the contributions put into it. It can range from very pop-sounding and accessible to extremely noisy and irritating. I am usually available when collaborators have expressed interest in recording the next album with me. Not sure when we are doing it again yet.
I have been in a few projects with other members from the Island of Misfit Noise, such as The Riverviews and Fisheads. Some of them are experienced in film and television and are working toward producing a low-budget science fiction movie with me, The Island of Misfit Noise.
After years of trial-and-error, I have come to the conclusion that I simply lack the necessary social skills to keep a stable group together. MarshaKat was the more extroverted sociable person. I am the more introverted eccentric one. I may focus on composition and home recording for the most part and only be performing shorter-term live projects for the foreseeable future. Finding the right line-up and keeping it together is a big hurdle.
- Mike Damn Nobodyis the moniker of my solo harsh noise project, in the vein of artists like Merzbow, Masonna, Solmania, Hanatarash, C.C.C.C., MSBR, Incapacitants, Evil Moisture, The Haters, and many others. I might book some shows doing this again, eventually
- Thee Urban SpaceCat (RecycleTape Cassette-Zine) is an upcoming publication of art, music, commentary, found objects, and almost anything else packaged with a cassette tape / CD-R of new material and other extras with each issue. I intend to release a new issue every three or four months, sending it out to distros and selling it online. It is intended as an outlet to put all of my artistic endeavors together into one package. It can be songs, talking, Dadaist noises, or anything. I thought about basing the writing style sort of like the pen-pal letters that I have exchanged with my friends for years and years, with my drawings & art, and various found objects. It is modeled very much like the letters & packages that I have sent to pen-pals for decades, but in a zine format.
♛ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ♛
I get some frequently asked questions from potential collaborators.
So, maybe I will just add this part here… if anybody wants to know:
I don’t have anywhere to jam, just an apartment.
I have a private Facebook group to exchange music and talk.
If you would like to be added to it, just gimme a friend request and I will include you:
Gear Geek Stuff:
I have two multi-track machines, one cassette (Tascam 488 MKII 8-track Portastudio) and one digital (Roland VS-1688 Digital Audio Workstation) .
On the computer, I use Audacity and whatever freeware I can find.
I also have many assorted cassette, micro-cassette, and reel-to-reel tape recorders.
I don’t have very high quality microphones.
One is an old abused one from Radio Shack and another is stolen from a karaoke machine.
I also have a modified telephone receiver, with an XLR jack installed.
Generally, I like recording electrical instruments directly through the preamps or Line 6 PODs.
Analogue tape is good to get a saturated compression sound, well-suited to percussion instruments or creating other tape noises.
Digital is good at getting a cleaner sound.
I used to have a homemade drum kit, affectionately referred to as my “ShitKit”.
It was a hodgepodge of cheap drums acquired from the Salvation Army for $50 dollars.
Instead of cymbals, I added pieces of scrap metal and junk, for a clunkier sound.
Unfortunately, it was mistakenly hauled away by scrappers from a friend’s garage, last summer.
I am gradually trying to rebuild another.
But, I have nowhere to practice on it.
My bass/guitar rig has evolved over time into something unusual, combining them together, splitting the signal three ways; one through a bass amp (SWR), one through a lead guitar amp (Marshall), one direct to PA (Line 6 POD).
I generally have one clean, one distorted, and one with various effects.
Octave and pitch effects are really good in this sonic sandwich.
Vocals are split between two mics (one ordinary vocal microphone and one modified telephone receiver) and various effects.
Samples + Noises are prepared on cassette tapes and played-back with two foot-controlled Dictaphone machines, fed directly into the PA.
I have two basses; a 1987 Guild Pilot with tremolo bar and a knock-off viola “Beatle Bass” made by Jay Turser.
I usually use the Beatle Bass for playing cleanly, three-fingerstyle.
I usually use recycled copper/nylon picks with the Guild Pilot, for more attack and articulation.
I have a Line 6 Variax guitar, to get a wide variety of tones.
I also have a cheap Ibanez RX-Series guitar with a Seymour Duncan Humbucker added at the bridge.
I usually tune it down to “Drop-A”, like a baritone, because I don’t have enough money to buy a real one.
An unknown acoustic guitar sits in the case most of the time.
Past experiments in circuit-bending and modified instrument building have yielded mixed results.
Musically, artistically, I like mixing lots of different things together.
Sometimes it harmonizes well.
Sometimes it sounds schizophrenic.
Sometimes it is poppy-sounding.
Sometimes it is noisy and irritating
In the past, I liked to bounce my ideas off of others and get some feel for what their capabilities and preferences were.
I depended very much on the input from the other bandmates, to find the direction that we were going in.
It helped to motivate me.
I was constantly trying to get feedback and be as democratic as possible.
But, this approach also slowed us down quite a lot.
They would often get frustrated and quit.
Left on my own, though, I don’t get very much accomplished.
I suffer from severe depression and social anxiety disorder.
I kinda have obsessive-compulsive tendencies, too.
Paradoxically, I am more prolific if others get out of the way and I don’t have to worry about what they might think.
It is a Catch-22 that I am trying to break out of.
I am trying to write more independently and be more decisive.
It is taking me some time to get used to it.
If there were musical influences that I could make references to, it would be a pretty damn long list.
I tried for ages to put an ideal band together.
But, I could never manage it, not for very long.
So, I am focusing on composition and recording, for the time being.
I will get back into live performances again when I am pretty sure it won’t immediately fall apart.
Although I am currently focusing on composition and recording, I would like to have a flexible live group, which can stretch its capabilities:
- Myself on bass/vocals/tapes.
- A good drummer, with some range of playing styles.
- Two or three others who can alternate between guitar, additional percussion, other instruments, etc.
Admittedly, my social skills are shit.
It has ruined opportunities for me in the past.
My skills as a musician are pretty good, not virtuosic… but pretty good.
I am a better bassist than a guitarist.
I don’t read charts very well.
Many people that I have played with never used them.
So, I am out of practice.
But, I would like to get back into the habit again.
I have improvised in groups before.
But, I don’t think I am very good at it.
I am better at making simple rhythms and random noises when I have to improvise something on the fly.
The songwriting style that I am currently going for is a pastiche of different styles combined together.
There may be lots of time and tempo changes.
But, there also may be much simpler compositions.
It depends on the song, I guess.
I never had any delusions about “making it big”.
I am content if I can make enough money to cover expenses, have a good dinner, and pay a few bills.
I live on disability and have no social life outside of playing music.
This is all that I really do.
If you want to check out upcoming events, or items available, add yourself to my mailing list.