MICHAEL McDERMOTT

Are you happy with how your new release Hit Me Back (Rock Ridge Music) has turned out?  Couldn’t be happier. Took a wee bit of a different approach than the prior albums….for example….there were certain artists we couldn’t reference….it was out of bounds so to speak…to reference some of the artists that most singer songwriters. Mkight refer to …you know a  ” you know how on that Dylan record they did that thing with the keyboard?” Those types of statements were forbidden….. you know the line….”.if you always do what you always did, you will always get, what you always got .” That was kind of our launch pad.

Who is it for?  The whimsical, the unwanted, the mourners, the isolated, the desperate, the devilish, the defeated, the kick-starters, the matador’s, the penniless poets, the dogged, the lovers on morning trains, the searchers, the seekers, the outcast, the count, the clown, the mistress, the widowed, the forgotten.

Where did you record it? with whom?  CJ Eiriksson …who is fucking brilliant! I worked with him a few years back. Then on tour in Italy, I was in the back of a car and leafing through the U2 record liner notes and noticed CJ”s name all over the place…..I was thrilled for him. I figured he had graduated to a different level and would no longer work with low lifes like me…My wife Heather told me if i didn’t write him, she would…i still had his email address and i wrote him….and he was on the road with U2 for the 360 tour but it was wrapping up soon and I pitched him….

How does it relate in your mind to your previous record, Hey La Hey?  It’s quite a departure. Songwriting is songwriting…at least mine is……but it’s really just what colors you use from your palette. We approached that record (HLH) with a band in the studio……this one…..it was me and CJ for the most of it.

With so many records under your belt, does one develop a philosophy when it comes to going into the studio, or is that called ‘the budget’?  HA….well that certainly is a factor in the equation….truth be told it’s as confusing as ever…..we did this record with the help of Kickstarter so we did have it planned we had a certain amount of time and come hell or high water…..it had to be done….so our philosophy was…….work quickly !

michaelmcdermott_hitmeback_cover-2Did you have sound or general attack in mind going in for Hit Me Back or did it evolve as the material took shape?  I think the songs really dictate what you do. I had a batch of songs that I thought were ready and then I sent them to CJ and he started working on loops from Texas and we kind of molded the record over the internet……then he came to town and we did it in 8 days.

Is it all new material or did any older, previously unrecorded songs bubble up to the surface as well?  There was one song, ” She’s Gonna Kill Me “, that we recorded for Hey La Hey and weren’t quite happy with it……so that one kind of stuck around…..another song ” Scars From Another Life” was a few years older….and one we would play live…..but when I sent CJ 40 songs or so…..he gravitated to that one…..he rearranged it and it came out amazingly well……it’s really having trust in your producer that he knows what he’s doing…..and you gotta be willing to walk the plank with him.

Do you have a favorite track (or tracks) on the disc or should we assume that’s the ‘titled cut’?  That’s certainly one cuz it’s probably the most ” fun ” song I’ve ever done……we thought we could hide it on the record and start it with more serious stuff but, wanted to come out with a smile…..I wrote that song in the car on the way to and from the hospital to see my dying mother….worst time in my life…..so for the sheer sake of my sanity i wrote a pretty funny and light hearted tune.

Any new influences reflected on the disc that you hear as the author?  Being referential to an earlier question…….we tried to use female influences more than male references……we put to rest all the old ” Gods ” the old ” Legends” and would be more influenced by Sinead, Dido, Florence, Sarah, then say Dylan, Bruce, Waits, Van, U2

Is ‘Hit Me Back’ a threat? kinky chatter? the facts of life or just a text message? what does it mean to you?  Great question…..well it was strictly a lyric in relation to my hangover that my head was hurting so bad it felt as if the bottle literally hit me back. But just those three words have a very ambiguous connotation which i love……it’s the masochist the fighter, the lover, the loser……all things which I know quite well.

 Are your earliest musical influences the most pervasive or do others break through along the way?  The early ones in the formative years are still the Mount Rushmore for me of songwriting….but there certainly have been people that have shown up in recent years that can influence you. Things constantly influence me……the train outside my window, to the man at the counter in a diner…..songs are everywhere….you just sometimes go looking for them in different places.
Where do songs arts for you, with the lyrical content or the music?  Totally varies, sometimes it’s a riff on guitar or a piano melody. Otherwise you get a lyric idea and then try to meld that into a song or melody. They are just different colors, and you need all of it to make a great painting so it matters little which comes first.  You’re going to need all of it if you want the song to sing on it’s own.
What is the first song you ever wrote, do you still like it? did it resurface anywhere else down the line?  The first song I wrote was in high school, and we named the band after the song – “Missing In Action / MIA”.  Nothing of that song ever reappeared, for good reason LOL.
How does “Hey La Hey” differ from your past releases?  It’s a far more restrained album. Which i like. The songs breath in a completely different way. Part of me misses some of the frenetic energy of the past albums, but i think it was a big step with not getting in the way of the song too much. Sometimes you try and do too much with a song and you end up kind of choking the life out of it……this album each song breathes on its own.
How did you approach going into the studio for the record?  I never usually have an approach….i’ve learned whenever i go into the studio thinking its gonna sound like one thing….it ends up sounding nothing like i thought it would. i’ve learned to let the song take you….and i just go along for the ride.
What is your favorite song on it?  That’s a tough one……if i had to have Bob Dylan hear one song….i’d pick Forgotten…….its a song thats spooky and has elements that make me uncomfortable. Its a song i havne’t heard in quite sometime…..because of the way it makes me feel. There’ something other worldly about it…..and i’m not sure if its a world i’d wanna be in.
If you had to make an “Introducing Michael McDermott” EP, what 3 songs would be on it?  Forgotten, Charlie Boy, The Silent WIll Soon Be Singing (unreleased song).
What’s the best part about playing Europe?  The people are the best thing. Besides my fascination with Europe as a whole…..the people and how they listen to music is the most inspiring thing. Europe has taught me about myself, its taught me how to love and approach life in a different way. I love it.
What advice would you give to young artists getting ready to tour for the first time?  I had a blast as a young man on the road. But maybe too good of a time. I’d say be moderate on the partying. That time of my life nearly killed me and i still have the scars to prove it. Have a great time….but ” dyin’ ain’t no way to make a livin” ( Clint Eastwood)
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