IT’S “20 QUESTIONS WITH CROSS” DAY!
I know, I have previously mentioned on my blogs that these interviews I am going to post on my web page are like a small window for fans and other people to explore bands and artists I’ve collaborated with, and to get to know these talented artists a bit better. Keep in mind though that the most important part of these interviews is the art and those talented people who make it.
That said, today I’m going to break my rules of interviewing artists I’ve collaborated with, and for this third blog of the series, I am very excited to interview Mike of The Tell Offs band, from New York!
Cross – Hi Mike, how ya doing brother?
Mike – Hi Cross!
Cross – I did some research prior to the interview preparation and there’s no information about your band at all out there. Not even on the band’s Instagram. All it says is where you guys are from, and how many members the band has. Let’s start from there.
The Tell Offs band is a five member band from Rockland County, New York. Can you name the guys and what instruments they play, including yourself too?
Mike – I’d love to! The usual suspects in The Tell Offs we have Mike K on lead guitar and backup vocals, Joe H on the four string thing and backup vocals, John O on rhythm guitar/keyboard/saxophone/backup vocals and Brandon P on drums and I’m lead vocals and occasionally I play some rhythm guitar. Poorly. Haha!
Cross – Does The Tell Offs (the band name) has a much deeper meaning than what it already says?
Mike – Absolutely……… not. Hahaha we were originally Dirty Mike and the Boys for several years but it was sort of a nonsense name that was meant to be temporary. On top of that, there’s other groups out there named Dirty Mike and the Boys. So after many years and many band name lists, we finally landed on the Tell Offs. We thought it worked! Granted, our general longtime fanbase tend to still refer to us as Dirty Mike but that’s ok. The Tell Offs will stick in due time haha.
Cross – How did you guys start the band, how did y’all get together?
Mike – Oof. Long story but I’ll make it short. Brandon, the drummer, and I went to the same high school and we were in a band together in high school. Joe, the bass player, went to our high school as well and we all had a lot of mutual friends even though I was a grade below them. Anyways, that band Brandon and I were in, reunited for a one off show back in 2012. After a drunken text convo on Thanksgiving 2012 between Brandon and I, we decided to get something going and in early 2013, this band was born!
Cross – Did the band have five members since from the start?
Mike – Actually no, the first three years we were a four piece. John joined in 2016, but he was a friend of the band and had made music with some of the other guys in bands before. We thought it would be a great added dynamic to include him. We couldn’t have been more right, it’s been great!
Cross – In my research, I found out The Tell Offs band have a couple songs/originals out there. Did you ever think to get them all together in an EP? Any similar plans in the near future?
Mike – The first few years we were strictly a bar band doing cover songs. In late 2017, we started doing originals. We have a lot of plans to get our original music out there! We’re still kind of in early stages of things and unfortunately this whole pandemic screwed up some of that progression but the wheels are spinning, we’ve got more ideas in place. It’s comin!
Cross – You guys do live-shows, right? How do you like playing live?
Mike – I love playing live! It’s such an incredible release. We pride ourselves on our live show. I think it’s our best quality. We engage with our crowd. We try to make them feel part of the show. My microphone is your microphone! I’m much more comfortable playing live than I am recording, I’m very stiff when I record. Perhaps that’s in my head I dunno but yea. Especially now that we’re getting older, all of us now in our 30s, every time we play live it’s a blessing.
Cross – Favorite place to play live?
Mike – Hmm, well I’ve been playing live shows since I was 14 years old, I’m gonna be 32 today haha. The two places I’ve played that sorta are my personal claims to fame is I’ve played CBGB’s twice and I played the Chance theater in Poughkeepsie New York. Both great places. These days? Our hometown bar that doesn’t exist anymore, it shut down a couple of years ago now, Blue Ribbon Tavern in Chestnut Ridge, NY was historic for us. So many great memories and not even just for us. That place was around for a really long time whether under different names or whatever the case. One of my best friends in the world, his parents had their first date there back in the early 1980s! We were sad to hear that place shut down. Casa Del Sol in Nyack, New York has become a staple, they’ve been really good to us. Shout out to Tommy and the crew there!
Cross – What gears do you guys use for your music, mic and all?
Mike – Shure mics and all kinds of other madness hahaha, I’m not the tech guy in the band clearly.
Cross – I know some of your music tastes cause we talked a bit a couple times, but what does inspire you as a band?
Mike – Oh yes we have! Make no mistake I’m the big metalhead in the band! Haha but what inspires us as a band is our love for rock n roll and the camaraderie that goes along with being in a band. A brotherhood for sure. A gang if you will. An extremely non violent gang. Haha.
Cross – If you could have a chance to open for a band you admire (which blew you away when you attended their live show), which one would that be?
Mike – Well given the kind of music I play, I’ll say that if I could ever open for the legendary Texas Fort Worth Rock n Roll band The Toadies, I’ll be waiting with bells on. Haha
Cross – Something about you Mike, when did you start to play guitar and what do you like more, acoustic or electric ?
Mike – I’m the world’s worst guitar player, make no mistake about it, but I write songs. So I have fiddled with a guitar in some way for probably about 12-13 years. I prefer electric because I can jack up my electro harmonix big muff and riff away, and it masks my lack of ability. Haha
Cross – You do write the lyrics for the band, right? How does that process works? Many song writers read a lot, do you?
Mike – I do write lyrics for the band! Not all of them mind you but a fair amount. We’re all responsible for our original music but as far as lyrics it’s generally music first, lyrics second. I tend to take the Metallica approach where we jam out on something we’ve got kicking around and I’ll just mumble some sh** over it until something sounds good. And a lot of it becomes muscle memory. I become obsessed with our riffs and eventually I come up with some kind of vocal melody. I’m a Zamboni driver by day. A lot of harmonies and melodies have come while operating the Zamboni. There’s some deep cut information for you. Hahaha
Cross – How and when did you discover that you could write your songs and sing?
Mike – Well I started singing in bands when I was 13 years old. And in some way shape or form, I’ve contributed to the songwriting process for any band since. Whether I do any of this stuff well is up for debate haha.
Cross – Any favorite singer?
Mike – Besides our beloved Philip H. Anselmo? Haha well I am the metalhead in my band. Don’t get me wrong the other fellas can get their Metallica on and stuff like that, but I’m definitely the metal fanatic… but having said that just like say, a Phil Anselmo, music is music. I always say I was corrupted by Metal but I was raised on Elvis, the Beatles and all kinds of oldies. Mike K, the lead guitarist, likes to joke with me that on those random nights, the drunker I get, the older my music gets haha. But a short list of singers I adore? Phil Anselmo, James Hetfield, John Lennon, Kurt Cobain, Layne Staley, Vaden Todd Lewis, Chris Cornell, Frank Black, Mia Zapata, Joey Ramone. That was short right? Haha
Cross – I love food. What about you, what’s your favorite dish (can be sweets too)?
Mike – Haha oh boy food. You delicious bastard. Well, being raised in an Italian American household, I like my carbs. Bread and pasta are vicious to my gut. Lol make no mistake the guys in The Tell Offs love their food. We are men of great taste. Haha actually sure I enjoy sweets but sweets aren’t really where my girth comes from. It’s bread for me. Ya know people throw super bowl parties and they break out the massive Italian combo. Then suddenly they put it away and break out cake and cookies. By the end of the night I could care less about the cake and cookies let’s do another run of Italian combo! Haha
Cross – Are you Mike, or any of The Tell Offs’ band members, a horror fan? If yes, your favourite horror movie?
Mike – We are all big movie fans, but I’ll go out on a limb and say I’m probably the biggest horror movie aficionado in the band in the sense that I’ll go pretty deep, but my all time favorite has to be the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Feel free to interview me again separately so we can go deeper on this one haha!
Cross – In what I’ve observed you’re a sport’s fan. Your favourite sport: Baseball, Basketball, Football?
Mike – Ah yes. I do enjoy my sports. New York Yankees, New York Jets, New York Rangers, Brooklyn Nets fan here. The New York Yankees probably get talked about the most amongst the band. The thing that really moves me about sports is the camaraderie. It brings people together and for me it’s a little slice of home. When I go on vacations or something I usually always bring a yankee shirt with me. Mike K the lead guitarist and I are regulars at Yankee stadium and Joe the bass player is a lifelong Yankees fan and a filthy good baseball player. Joe if you read this I’m gonna make it a point to get to more of your games I promise! Haha
Cross – Do you like traveling, Mike? Any place you’d recommend traveling to?
Mike – I don’t travel enough. But as messed up as this may sound, I grew up going to Atlantic City, New Jersey a lot. My parents liked their poker but it’s cool, fortunately they were fairly responsible about it, but I grew up getting used to complimentary hotel rooms haha. I’m not a gambler at all but there’s a nostalgia I get when I go because I guess it was the family vacation growing up. A simpler time. I kinda dig that. Queue the corny music! Haha
Cross – Are you guys working on any new material?
Mike – Always. Lots in the vault. It’s all about time for us. Some members are married. Some members have children. We all have jobs and things that occupy our lives. Time is limited but we’re back and playing now so we’re gonna make some moves you’ll see.
Cross – Is there anything else you might like to add or any message you might want to give to your fans?
Mike – Thank you CROSS for taking the time. Yes, everyone reading, please follow my band The Tell Offs on Instagram @thetelloffsband you can listen to some of our original demos on our soundcloud, the link is in the bio and we just launched our new website thetelloffs.band ….new pictures, new music, new merchandise, new content in general is coming! Oh yea and CROSS, GETCHA PULL!
Cross – This interview has for sure made me chuckle. Thanks for taking the time to answer all my questions and Happy Birthday Mike!