Michael Lewis interview
John: Today is the infamous impeachment day, Nov. 19th, 1998. I donít know if you are into politics or not but I guess it is all over the TV.
Michael: I havenít even turned on the television.
John: You are probably better off that way. Well Michael just out of curiosity, do you like being called Michael?
Michael: Yeah, Yeah.
John: Because I have seen your name a couple times as W. Michael Lewis and Mike Lewis, and the W., what does that stand for?
Michael: William, but I tell everybody it stands for Wombat. My music company is called Wombat Music but there are two other Michael Lewisí in the music business, that are writers and arrangers. When I first started making songs BMI told me I could just use Michael Lewis, somebody else already had it so....and he said, "use an initial or a pseudonym." I just put the W in front, my full name is William Michael Lewis.
John: OK Michael I am glad to get that little bit of information. If you donít mind I would like to take you back a few years. I would like to get an idea of where you grew up, went to high school .
Michael: OK, I was born in San Diego, my dad was in the Navy at the time and we traveled around a lot, so I grew up in New Orleans, Charleston South Carolina, Miami, Houston, Mobile Alabama and letís see where else..... Norfolk Virginia, by about the seventh grade when I was twelve years, we moved to real small town in Alabama, called Monrovo. the book "To Kill A Mockingbird" was written about Monrovo.
John: So I guess you probably went to quite a few high schools then?
Michael: Well, once I got to Monrovo in the seventh grade I ended up being there all through, they just had Junior High and High all combined, Monrovol County High School, so I was there for seven through twelth grades. Then I went to the University of Alabama and majored in Music Theory and Composition, and I was in the Million Dollar Marching Band and in the Symphony and in the Concert Band at the University of Alabama. I was a clarinet player and actually I started playing clarinet when I was about nine years old, that gave me the music bug and then about the time the Ventures came about I started playing guitar and I didnít become a keyboard player until I was in about the eleventh grade and I got kind of interested in the piano.
John: So it sounded like you got pretty involved at a young age.
John: Just to kind of give a time reference, when did you graduate from High School?
John: Where would be a good jumping off place from college music into the professional realm?
Michael: When I was in college I started doing session on weekends at Muscle Shoals, which wasnít really .... they were somewhat on the map because of R & B sessions and stuff, but they hadnít really hit mainstream yet and that kind of got me into rock and roll. I think I also had bands while I was in High School a few bands played around but then I was still a guitar player. When I went to College I knew that I was going to be a professional musician but I thought I was going to be in the symphony and more jet kind of stuff but then rock and roll kind of got to me. After I got out of College, I went straight through summers and everything so I was only in college for two and a half years. As soon as I got out I moved to Atlanta and had band in Atlanta for about a year, then I moved out here March of 1969 and have lived here every since.
John: And here is in ?
John: ah LA.... What were some of the influences on you back in the sixties?
Michael: Well, when I was a kid, when we were in New Orleans, thatís when I was from five to eight years old, I guess my first influence was Dixieland jazz, other than Classical music and stuff. When the rock and roll thing started happening my first influences were the Ventures and Elvis Presley and the rockabilly kind of vibe. When the English groups got started I guess I got into that whole vibe. The English bands were my favorite bands in the mid sixties.
John: You mentioned Muscle Shoals earlier did you actually record anything down there that was released?
Michael: I did my first record down there, it was a band called, letís see.....The Seeds of Time. We cut our first record in Muscle Shoals, then we had another band, the band I had in Atlanta, it was called the Brick Wall. We had a single on Capital but nothing happened with it. It was a single called "Poor Mary Has Drowned." It was a song that I had written when I was in college and then there is a writer and engineer, in Muscle Shoals, called Eddy Hinton, he died a couple of years ago, I believe, but he liked the song and wanted to record it, did a little rewriting on it. That was one of the first sessions that I did there. I remember that.
John: So you ended up in Los Angeles. So what avenue did you pursue once you got there.
Michael: Well, what happened was when I was in Atlanta, a band from out here came through Atlanta and needed a keyboard player. They were playing their way back to LA. My band in Atlanta was doing quite well but I knew that I had back in that time, this was about 1968, I guess, I knew that I wanted to either move to New York or LA, one of the two places for the music thing. This band came through Atlanta and said they needed a keyboard player, I saw that as a free ticket out here, so I just quit my band almost over night. I remember coming back... We all lived in a big house in the underground part of Atlanta, I can remember coming back one night and saying, "Iím gonna leave and tomorrow I am going to California." It was just kind of spur of the moment. When I got out here, the band I came out with, we worked around town for maybe two months. I didnít know anybody out here at all only them. Weíre living at Hermosa Beach right by the pier and all of a sudden the band broke up, I found myself out here with no money and not knowing anybody, so I started running around the clubs and put together a little group really quick and started playing around locally and I think it had maybe been three weeks or so and I ran into the guy that was the lead singer of the Standells, a guy named Dick Dodd, he was also an original Mousketeer. He needed a band to be the Standells. The band had just broken up but they had a tour with the Grassroots. He needed a band, so I got a trio I played left hand bass and right hand Hammond and we had a guitar player and a drummer and he hired my trio to be the Standells for the Grassroots tour and that kind of got me into a better circle as far as agents and managers and that kind of thing. Then from that point I started moving around working with different groups.
John: Going back to when you first got there with the band, from Atlanta, you went out to LA, do you recall what they were calling themselves, or yourself?
Michael: The band I came out here with was called The Devilís Brigade. They picked that name because there was a movie, a war movie called "The Devilís Brigade" that was produced by David Wahlburg, and they were extras on the movie and they had been like playing around the movie set and Wahlburg liked their music and he said, "Iíll produce you guys." They just decided with what happened on the set of that movie, they decided to call the group The Devilís Brigade, also, right before we came out here to LA, I just remembered this, we went to New York first, from Atlanta, and David Wahlburg got us a deal with Mainstream Records, at the time that was the Big Brother and the Holding Company label. We did a single produced by Bob Shadd, was the guys name, he was the producer, I guess the staff producer for Mainstream and I guess, mainly a jazz producer, anyway, he produced the single on The Devilís Brigade but it got some air play but nothing really happened with it. So we never did an album for Mainstream but there was that one single.
John: A little side bar here; I know once you got into LA, I have talked to Mark Lyndsey quite a little bit and I understand you ended up being roommates with him.
Michael: Yeah, we worked together on and off for a long time. I think the first time I worked with him was in the early seventies, I had a band from the Standells, after that a thing came down about the name, just like what happened with Gary and the Quicksilver thing, Dick Dodd was told he couldnít use the name any more another guy in the group, The Standells, Tony Valentino had gotten the rights to the name, so we decided to keep our same act and call ourselves Joshua and then one of the drummers I had in Joshua ended up working with Mark in his road band, that was after he did his single "Arizona" and was doing his solo career, and thatís how I met Mark, was through this drummer. He said, "Weíre getting ready to go play in Williamsburg," which was opening of Busch Gardens in Williamsburg. That was my first time to work with Mark and we just kind of hit it off and off and on for the next twelve or fourteen years. We scored a movie together, a movie called "Shogun Assassin" and then I was his musical director for two tours on the road. We wrote a lot of songs together.
John: And this was during the seventies, right?
Michael: Yeah, yeah.
John: Then you mentioned that you used another name after the Standells?
Michael: Ah, yeah, yeah, Joshua.
John: Did you ever get anything commercially released?
Michael: We have on album on a label called AVI records and it was just called Joshua. I donít think it is in print at all, nothing really, we never got on a big circuit or anything. We had a good life down here for about two and a half years playing the club circuit down here, back then in the early seventies. We could make pretty good money just playing clubs. We became a house band in a club in Orange County called Pier 11, that lasted for a couple of years. Then after that, I went from that band into We Five and did that for about a year and then started subbing for Nicky in Quicksilver, at the same time that I was first working with Quicksilver. After We Five I had a local band called the LA Bullets, it was like a theater rock band around town, that went on for a couple of years at the same time that I was working with Quicksilver.
John: When you worked for Quicksilver, was that just when they were down in LA?
Michael: No, we would usually meet wherever the first job was. I think the first time I got a call was just to sub for Nicky. I think he had gotten sick or something, then it sort of became a regular thing, but no, since I was the only one down here, whenever we were going out on the road we would usually meet wherever the first job was, then it would be out on the tour, then they would fly back to San Francisco and I would fly back here.
John: Was John Cippolina still in the group with...?
Michael: When I first started working with them he wasnít, but then he came back into the group. He was kind of in and out, right? So I worked in a few different configurations but I worked most of the time when I was in the group it was Gary and Dino and we usually had another drummer and we went through several bass players and Cippolina was..... when I first started working with them; not in the group, then he came back I remember there was one, that was around the Solid Silver album.
John: I notice your given credit on Solid Silver, the album, did you actually record anything prior to that with the band?
Michael: Letís see, I think that was actually was my first studio stuff with them, I think we did record something before but I think it was the first stuff that was released that I played on with them.
John: You never had much to do with Nicky Hopkins or Mark Naftlin?
Michael: Nicky and I became really good friends. He ended up living down here and he had always been a big influence on me, as far as a player, anyway, but on that album we recorded together, I think that is the only project that we worked on at the same time.
John: Thatís right, Nicky was also on Solid Silver. Since we are already there and talking about Solid Silver, I donít know if you have listened to it since it was released on CD or not but any recollections on which songs you might particularly.....?
Michael: On Solid Silver? "Gypsy Lights" was always my favorite one, I think on that album, that one really stands out and it has been so long ago that I donít remember a lot of the other titles obviously.
John: I could read them to you. Do you want me to?
John: There is: "Hebe Jebees," "Cowboy on the Run," "I Heard You Singing," "Worrying Shoes,"
Michael: "Cowboy on the Run" I like also, I remember that.
John: and "The Letter," "Flames," "Witches Moon," and "Bittersweet Love."
Michael: and "They Donít Know," I like that one too.
John: You never really got any credit for writing with Quicksilver. You never got into the actual writing of any of their songs, huh, for that album?
Michael: Not in that album, but I have some tunes on Shape Shifter.
John: Right in fact quite a few. Now weíre jumping ahead maybe we can ....
Michael: backtrack a bit?
John: Just a little bit. You were also touring in support of Solid Silver? I know the Cippolina had gone out on quite a few performances and he stopped touring but Quicksilver kept on going.
John: How long did you tour with them?
Michael: Letís see, all the way through, I think there is actually only one tour that I didnít do with them, some where around Ď76. Some where I think it was after the Solid Silver album, when it looked like Capital was kinda going to drop the ball there. They did one bus tour where they ended up going down to Florida or something, that one I didnít go on, but other than that, from 1972 on, whenever we played, I was part of the group. What happened around 1976, I got involved in the Disco scene as a producer and I had a four year run in the charts doing dance music and that kind of tied me up for a while.
John: Right, all of those recordings werenít under your name? You were the producer? Is that right?
Michael: But I was producer and writer and artist and I started this thing with fictitious names which is carried on into today, even on the Shape Shifter album a lot of the names on there are me, just something that started as a inside joke. So I had a band called Central K, I had one called Tuxedo Junction, one called El Coco and one called Les Pompamoose and all four of them were quite successful as disco groups. None of them were actual groups at the inception and three of those after we had hit records with them, we hired groups to be those groups and go out and play but I never went on any of those groups myself, I just stayed here in LA and ...at that time I was almost constantly in the studio, I think I did thirty two albums in a five year period.
John: Talk about having no time to yourself.
Michael: Yeah, Yeah, but it was a nice run because I hadnít, up to that point, I hadnít had a lot of success on the radio so it was really a lot of fun.
John: It also gave you a lot more exposure I would imagine.
Michael: Yeah, but the thing was with the fictitious groups nobody knew it was me but in a way that was good because I never got to the point where I was being bugged or hassled all the time or anything like that, it was easy to keep a private life. That part of it was nice.
John: Also, if I have got the time from right, you had mentioned doing a sound track with Mark Lyndsey, that would kind of overlap with your disco music, right?
Michael: Yeah, letís see now, we did that movie in 1980, Shogun Assassin, that was actually in 1980.
John: Oh, OK.
Michael: But he and I had been working together for a while. Also in Ď76 I got involved started scoring television shows; that is when I started doing the In Search Of series: the Leonard Nemoy series. I did all the music for that, six years that ran, something like: Ď76 to Ď81. Also during that same time I was doing the music for Barbara Walters Specials, she did four specials a year, I wrote her theme song.
John: Did you do any other movie scores?
Michael: Uh yeah, I did, well, actually prior to Shogun Assassin I got involved with Cannon Films with their whole Ninja series; I did: Enter the Ninja, Revenge of the Ninja, Ninja III, The Dawn of the Nation, a slasher movie called New Years Evil. Then I got involved with Edward James Allmos on a project that he was doing: a Spanish and American combination film called The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez. The year that that came out, it was voted by the LA film critics as one of the ten best films of the year. Letís see, then I did: The Secrets of the Bermuda Triangle, a Martin Mull movie called: Bad Manners. Altogether, I think there was about fifteen feature films, then the TV stuff I did; I did allot of documentaries of and on because of In Search Of I kind of got into the documentary vibe, and I guess the most recent of that kind of thing was all of the background music for the Cops series.
John: Yes, I heard that you had been working on that. Well, during that whole time....letís just talk about after the Disco and maybe during the early eighties, did you perform live with anybody or do any work like that?
Michael: From what time period now?
John: I guess you were saying with the disco recordings; you stayed in the studio.
John: Then after did you ever get out to perform live?
Michael: Yeah, I think during that Disco period off and on; well, I guess this would have been after, yeah when the eighties came around I started playing out live again. I went out on the road, I went out with Mark Lyndsey and thatís when we did a couple of tours. I guess at that time you would have called them "Nostalgia Tours." We did one that was called, this would have been Ď86, this would have been the Centennial Celebration, I remember because Lee Iococa put together a tour called "Legends for Liberty." We were out on the road with: Tommy James and the Byrds, the Temptations, the Four Tops and the Grassroots and Spirit. I started working with Spirit too when on that one tour I did with Mark, Spirit needed a keyboard player to tour and I was already going out with Mark; so I worked out a deal whereas actually I was playing keyboard for Mark, for Spirit and the Grassroots all on the same tour.
John: Was that a national tour or was that East Coast?
Michael: It was mostly East Coast. You could call it "National" but it was most of the gigs were on the East Coast. Then the year after that we did the same thing again with a gig called "The Classic Superfest," that was almost the same groups. This tour was a real long extended tour a 105 days in Ď87. I think that was the last time I worked with Mark Lyndsey too, was like Ď87. And then I donít remember the time frame exactly, but once I started working with Spirit I did three different tours with them; one when Jay Ferguson was in the group, then I think a couple of times with out Jay but with Randy and Kess.
John: Did you record anything with them that was released studio wise?
Michael: Yeah, I did. We recorded something in Detroit; I am not sure what happened with that but I know it was released. I think Randy did a few solo albums after that and I think I am on most of those. And in fact, I had done right before he drowned, not to long before, I just had been out to his house in Ohi and done some overdubs for him on a new album. I am not even sure if that album has been released or not.
John: Yeah, there was one that was released just about the time of his death or right after.
Michael: So that would be the last one, yeah.
John: That was a tragic loss; his drowning trying to save his son.
Michael: Yeah, very, very strange.
John: We are kind of are brought up into the early eighties, without talking about Randy. When did you get back into or get involved with the recordings for "Peace by Piece," by Quicksilver, you know Gary Duncan?
Michael: Duncan and I had always, back since the early Quicksilver days, we have always had a thing, we have always liked working together and playing together, so anytime I could get up to San Francisco I would go out there to record and all through a lot of those years when the band wasnít too active I was back and for the going up there to record with Gary, and during "Peace by Piece," it seems like that was put together about over a year period, I can remember going back and forth quite a bit on that. I think that was when we first had that studio up there, Sammy Piazza was in the group at that time.
John: Right, you are talking about the studio in San Rafael. You worked with.... I donít know if these were all recorded with everybody at one time but like: Kathy MacDonald, on the album, did you ever meet her?
Michael: Who is it?
John: Kathy MacDonald.
Michael: She used to sing back up on a lot of stuff; she is on "Solid Silver" She did back up on a lot of f that stuff. Kathy if I remember right, she was an LA girl or down here a lot. We used to run into her quite a bit.
John: I know Gary and the group had performed, I know that they had done some concerts donít know how much Did you play with them on occasion?
Michael: Uh huh.
John: because I remember seeing them on TV they had done a earthquake benefit
Michael: Yeah, I did, I was on that.
John: But they didnít really... you guys didnít go on any major tour at that time, is that right?
Michael: Yeah, not at that time. Probably the "Solid Silver" tour was the last national tour and ever since then we have just done kind of sporadic things here and there, but nothing like a real tour, I guess, more a single night.
John: All this time you have been a keyboardist playing synthesizers, thatís about it or have you been doing other things, especially on "Shapeshifter?" Did you play anything else?
Michael: Yeah, I did, I played drums, bass, a lot of stuff like that. On "Shapeshifter" letís see, I donít remember all of the musicians names but we give credit to Kenny Williams the drummer, thatís me, whoever we listed besides Bobby Vega on bass, thatís me and the horn players that we listed; thatís me. (Laughs) That goes back from the Disco days when Gary or I would just make up names and say, "OK, thatíll be the bass player," or "thatíll be the drummer," because some of that stuff we cut with kind of now our live band, with Bobby Vega and Greg Enrico, but a lot of that stuff was written when either I would go up to San Francisco or Gary would come down here and a lot of that stuff we put together with just the two of us.
John: That is a very good, it is a very good, double CD that was released.
Michael: Yeah, that was a lot of fun
John: Talking about "Shapeshifter" is there any songs off hand that you remember, that you really enjoyed?
Michael: Well, letís see, one was "Tattoo" which was the last thing we did on that album. New Yearís Eve Gary was down for a week or two where we did like final recording and I was also with one of my side bands that I work with, this guy David Summerville, who is with this group of the Diamonds, a band from the fifties and (Dave did some background vocals for us on the album too), but he and I had a gig on New Yearís Eve, and Gary came out to the gig with us and we got kind of a little bit happy and stuff at the gig and we came back right after the gig, we went right into the studio and did "Tattoo" from beginning to end, wrote it and recorded it and the next thing I remember it was about noon on New Yearís day and ... so that was kind of fun because it was like a total party vibe actually I like just about everything on the "Shapeshifer" album, cause we were about to do pretty much what ever we wanted to do.
John: Like I said before it is an excellent double CD. Itís has been a long time since there has been a CD of such good quality, every song over two CDís ? It is really enjoyable. I might be regressing in time a little bit. I think I had heard that you had played or helped with Steely Dan, is that right?
Michael: During that Disco time I had become a staff producer for a record company called AVI in LA. They owned a record studio called Producerís Workshop became very famous as a tracking studio, so during that time period that I was a staff producer for that label, I was doing sessions all the time at Producerís Workshop and during that time Steely Dan came through there working on "Aja" at the time. Pink Floyd came in and mixed "The Wall" there, letís see, one of the first Quadrophonic albums was mixed there; I think it was Poco, that bill Shnae, I believe did. We built I think the first working Quadrophonic room there with a joy stick so you could do panning around to all four speakers. Of course, quad never took off really, but during that time period I got to meet a lot of groups like that and I got a lot of good influence, from working. I didnít actually record with Steely Dan but we were in different rooms in the same studio there for a few months. Right now I am working on a project with Joel Cohen who was their manager, he was also the manager of Three Dog Night. I have worked with projects with a couple of those guys, off and on, the drummer Floyd Snead and the bass player Joe Shurme and through the years we have done different things through with them, recording and playing stuff. Itís like in LA being only in the music business I hoped around with a lot of bands and worked with a lot of different people that kind of session stuff> I did some Rita Coolidge stuff, some arrangements for her and programming. I engineered a couple of El DeBarge albums, various things like that. Tabares, I donít know if you remember a R&B group called Tabares but I did some keyboard stuff for them, just odd things in there.
John: So post "Shapeshifter," you were involved with Gary on their Fieldstone recording, "Live at Fieldstone?" It has been credited that was your first live performance in front of an audience.
Michael: Well letís see, I guess with what is pretty much our band now that was, because that was our first time. I can remember driving up and we didnít have any rehearsals for that, I just remember meeting the guys at Fieldstone and it was I think our.... no, letís see... When we did that Earthquake Benefit that was with Enrico and Bobby Vega but then when we did Fieldstone that was the first time that John Bird was in the group. I guess that was our first, in that sense, and I guess our first live recording that we knew was going out as a CD.
John: Right and that is on Captain Trip records out of Japan right?
Michael: Uh huh, right.
John: It might be kind of a redundant question but are you satisfied with it?
Michael: With the live album?
Michael: Well, yeah I guess basically yes, live albums there are always going to be things that you wish you would have done differently but over all and under the circumstances and everything.... yeah, I think it was pretty inspired. I think the fact that we hadnít rehearsed the intensity and were just kind of winging it there, that made it, the intensity made it a lot of fun.
John: Yeah, I was there and it was a beautiful day to be playing. .
Michael: It was.
John: Yeah, nice spot.
Michael: And I remember too, I donít know why I had to get back down here; but I had to fly in for that and just drive in and play and then as soon as we got off stage I had to jump in the car with Ron Polte and get right back to LA. I donít remember why now but I remember that was kind of an intense day because I had to split right away
John: I know that the newer music, speaking of "Fieldstone" has got more a jazz feel to it, is that fair to say?
John: "Shapeshifter" was a nice collection, it had some blues in it had a little jazz. I donít know it is kind of hard, it had a little bit of everthing.
Michael: Yeah, it really did.
John: You know it had some voodoo boogie type music and ......
Michael: Yeah I think on that one, the whole concept of "Shapeshifter" .... a few of the songs we had recorded, more than a few maybe about half of them, we had recorded before in San Francisco, a lot of it..... I was involved with a studio down here for about five years as an engineer and producer, a studio called Studio 89, thatís where we did a lot of the work on that album. Gary would come down and we gave up what ever we were doing while we were down here. We would just go where the song took us. We didnít think we had to sound like the old Quicksilver or weíre after one direction here, we just didnít even think about that, where ever the song went, we would kind of go with it . We would kind of let the material pull us where it wanted to. We just kept a real open mind that way, for instance like "Rebel" that got into a real, real down.... because that song was actually based on something that was written during the Civil War, we just let that one almost get into a kind of .... I almost donít know how to describe that one really.
John: Almost kind of took a life of itís own?
Michael: Yeah, Some of those songs where ever they just ended up going we would we would just kind of run with it. It was really a very free thinking album. I think that is one of the reasons I like it so much because itís got a big variety. We werenít .... so many times on records your trying to define the sound of the group and I know we were getting flack for maybe not sounding like the old Quicksilver but because Gary is there anything we do is Quicksilver anyway. We werenít really concerned with that at all.
John: I can hear Quicksilver in anything Gary plays.
Michael: And so do I.
John: But youíre not going to hear "Fresh Air" or "Who Do You Love" unless you actually play it.
Michael: Right, and we have been known to play "Who Do You Love" at some of these live gigs. We have actually done that.
John: Very good. There are some plans coming up for the release of the Sweetwater show?
John: So hopefully that comes out also
Michael: That is already done. I did some editing and mastered that down here. Iíve got a home studio down here at home. Thatís ready to go, yeah.
John: Now that is a live one also, so that is kind of like. Have you guys been working on any studio recordings?
Michael: Yeah we have any time I go up there to rehearse we have the tape recorder rolling. Last time I was up there right before the Fillmore gig Gary had a couple of new songs. Iím working on a couple of things down here that I am going to take back up there the next time I go up. So yeah weíre always thinking about recording and most of the time when we are rehearsing up there we are recording and if anything good comes out of it we put it in the archive there and we continue to work on it. So we are definitely planning to have another studio album out.
John: Speaking of "Fieldstone" we were talking about this last May, you performed for a second time up there. Unfortunately the power got killed and it was a very short concert.
Michael: Right that is right.
John: I know at Sweetwater show and a few others that I have heard you have done in
Michael: Mill Valley
John: Yes but there was one you did in LA down there
Michael: Oh the House of Blues
John: Yes before that one.
Michael: That show went really well.
John: You played longer than an hour at those, right?
Michael: Yeah, I think we did. We did probably an hour and forty five minutes at that show. We were working with JGB and they had had an afternoon concert in San Diego and they were a little late in showing up; so we just kept playing until they got there. That was a really good gig. They have got a great room and they have very good sound on stage so that was a fun gig. That was also my fiftieth birthday.
John: Oh well happy birthday. I would have never guess you would have been fifty. I guess if you graduated in 1966 that figures.
John: I guess it was the Ventura Theater I was thinking about.
Michael: Yeah, Yeah, that was kind of a strange one. That was on a weekend that there was a Hellís Angels convention in Ventura and a lot of people, I donít know why, but a lot of people seemed to be afraid to go out and it was very rainy but it was still a good gig. In fact the last time I had played the Ventura Theater was probably about ten years prior with Spirit.
John: So do you have any coming up? I know you just got done playing at the Fillmore.
Michael: Weíre hoping thatís going to spur some new bookings. I know we have two or three people on the case. That is the plan now to try to get a little more visibility and get some work going here.
John: In the meantime what have you been doing?
Michael: Well I have my home studio here and I still work with who I mentioned earlier, Dave Summerville, who is the lead singer of the Diamonds. He has a touring show on a called: On the 1957 Rock and Roll Greyhound bus. I go out on the road with him as a musical director and keyboardist. There is another group who is Yester, Vellone and Summerville, their combination. Jim Yester was the lead singer with the Association. Bruce Bellon who was the lead singer of the Four Preps and with David who I just mentioned, the three of them together have a show. They are kind of like a modern Three Dog Night I guess would be the best way to put it. Three guys in front with a band behind. We do a lot of corporate functions. So I am out on the road with them too. I also have my own blues band called Rocket Science and we play around locally here, just locally, just to have fun around town. A few weeks ago I just started working with a band called Retrofit, also a local thing, so I am doing that too.
John: So you kind of left the TV?
Michael: Yeah, I havenít done any of that for a while but I am working on possibilities right now, but I am trying to get some stuff on television again show. I want to get into that again so... but as far as TV stuff "Cops" was the last television thing. They just use library son that now, stuff I wrote a long time ago but I do want to get back into television.
John: I know there is one song that you were playing last year with Quicksilver. I think it is called "Deja Voodoo." It is a great song.
Michael: Uh huh, I think we have retitled that to "Orango Tango."
John: It is a wonderful piece. You are really dramatic with your keyboards on that.
Michael: Oh thanks.
John: I hope that goes places. That is a showcase song.
Michael: That will be on, whenever our next studio album comes out, I am sure that will be on it a studio version of that.
John: Kind of looking back over the years; any major influences or people you look at from a keyboard standpoint that standout in your mind as influences on your work?
Michael: I guess over all I think my favorite keyboard players are Thelonious Monk, Oscar Peterson and Bud Powell, the jazz guys. I was also influenced a lot by Chic Corea. As far as rock and roll or the rock kind of sound: I think I was influenced by mostly the English guys, like Nicky was always a big influence on me, when I heard what he did with Jeff Beck on the "Truth" album, I was just blown away by that.
John: Yeah, One of my favorite albums from Jeff Beck.
Michael: Of all time I would say. I really got into the really progressive English groups like I was always a big fan of Yes, Genesis and those were probably the main ones; and also really because I got into synthesizers at the very beginning when they were first becoming commercial. I was also influenced by Keith Emmerson quite a bit and Walter Carlos, who is now Wendy Carlos, that kinds of stuff, I used to like that. There was a Japanese guy named Tomida. I like keyboardists who have a sense of humor, I like to think that we have a lot of humor in our music and Tomida had a way to get a lot of humor in his synthesizer playing, so I was a big fan of him.
John: In summary: kind of looking back again, can you think of any particular story or event that kind of stands out that you would like to share with your Quicksilver Messenger Service days?
Michael: Gosh, right off hand I donít know if I can think of any one specifically. We had a whole lot of adventures on the road; anytime when Dino was in the band, going anywhere with Dino was always an experience.
John: I remember hearing a story about Disneyworld, I think Gary had told me at one time, you werenít playing there. Did you play there with him?
Michael: Where was it?
John: At Disneyworld, down in Florida.
Michael: Thatís one that I missed. I wasnít there that was the bus tour that I mentioned earlier.
John: Ah, OK.
Michael: That was the one tour I was not on and I think from hearing about it, I think that I am glad that I wasnít. (laughs)
John: Well I hope there is bigger and better things on the horizon for Gary and
Michael: I do too!
John: And the rest of the guys in the band and the best of luck with your new releases.
Michael: I know we will continue making music regardless of what happens, because we have been friends twenty six years now.
John: Well that is an old good friendship. It certainly shows on the stage when you guys are performing especially when you and Gary trade off.
Michael: We definitely get into that.
John: So is there anything else you would like to add to the interview?
Michael: I canít of any specifics John, I think you have done a good job of covering a lot of stuff I might think of some later
John: Youíre welcome to send me an email if you think of something you would like to add. I just wish that for people like yourself there was a little bit more in print. You have been around a long time in the industry...
Michael: Right, what I am doing right now.... I am in the process of .... one of the guys told me they are going to give me my own webpage among the Quicksilver stuff right now...
Michael: So I am putting together a discography and a list of credits of the films and TV shows and that kind of stuff and ship it off to Brett and I am hoping to get that in the mail within the week.
John: Very good. He knows that we are doing this interview. He may put this interview right in on that spot for you.
Michael: That is something I havenít done in a long time. Iím kind of curious myself, like I just went into my BMI list; like songs that I have written that are on record. Iíve got like eighty some songs have been released so I didnít realize there were that many myself so it has been fun going back and gathering this information together..... hopefully with in a week or two I will have a pretty comprehensive discography and everything.
John: Well good. On behalf of the fans of Quicksilver, I would like to tell you I appreciate you sticking in there and putting out all this good music with Gary and just thanks for being there.
Michael: I am glad you enjoyed it. We certainly have a good time every time we work together and there is going to be a lot more, I can tell you that!
John: Thatís good, another twenty five years?