This piece was originally published Dec 30, 2012 for Middle of the Mitten 5
Interview by contributor Chris Traviglia
1. How have your Michigan roots influenced your music?
Annie and Rod Capps are my favorite Michigan songwriters who I first saw in 2003, and they introduced me to a world of great, accomplished players from the state, and the house concert scene like Craig Carrick’s series. Now that I live in Ann Arbor, I feel blessed to ride my bike to live shows at the Ark or Blind Pig or Old Town’s Sunday music series. (I’ve still never been to Johnny’s Speakeasy! Who can get me in?)
2. Have you been working on any projects recently?
I’m releasing more singles through 2013. This December, I released a song called “Reaching Back” that’s free to download at mikevial.com/free. It was recorded over two afternoons at Porcelain Records (Hamilton, Canada). We did the vocals and guitar tracks live with no click, no headphones! It felt really comfortable to just trust my natural feeling, like a live performance.
3. What have you been listening to lately?
My friend Paul Federici’s release Relative Importance. I’ve also been consuming Mere Travis, Chet Atkins, and Tommy Emmanual’s style. As a guitarist, I’ve been inspired to work on my finger-picking, and I’m getting more comfortable using a thumb pick.
4. What do you love most about Michigan?
Michigan is craft beer leader, a local coffee roaster haven, a local food supporter, and a place that offers natural beauty & historic urban spots. All of this was symbolized by wife’s idea to have a Michigan-made Wedding in August. We love this state!
5. What would fans be surprised to learn about you?
In high school, I consumed all types of music, even metal and industrial. I wore Marilyn Manson and KMFDM shirts under my Catholic school uniform while attending Divine Child freshmen year. In 1995, my conservative mother freaked out when she discovered I was going to ride my bike to Rock of Ages (killer record store) to meet Marilyn Manson and get a CD signed. You see, I didn’t think my mom knew who Manson was, so I spilled the beans. However, my mom had just saw Manson on the Ricki Lake show, and was aghast! She banned me from going. Manson wasn’t a star then. I’m still kind of pissed I missed a chance to meet him. However, I do have signed Marilyn Manson CDs still in my collection, ones that I hide from my parents. I think those CDs and inserts are still hiding in Barenaked Ladies cases. (Sorry mom!)