Monday, June 07, 2010
Mike Lombardo Interview and CONTEST
[It is now 12:10 AM on Monday, June 21, 2010 and the Contest is Closed. Thanks to everyone who entered by commenting on this interview! You can still comment if you want, but the contest is over and we'll announce the 2 winners shortly... Here are the two winners: Danielaf555 and leenybella - Congrats to both of you!]
Here is another YouTubeStars interview of a talented and interesting YouTuber. This time, we have interviewed musician Mike Lombardo, who describes himself as a "geeky piano rocker." Mike's main channel is MikeLombardoMusic which has lots of great music videos including his most watched "Hey Molly" original song. Mike's other channel is jeffisold which has vlogs and live footage.
Mike is currently on tour in support of his newest release, the 2 CD "Songs For A New Day" - which you can WIN if you enter our contest - Rules are below the Interview. Tour dates can be found on Mike's website.
Mike is on DFTBA Records LLC, which is co-owned by YouTubers Hank Green from the vlogbrothers channel and Alan Lastufka whose channel is fallofautumndistro.
There is one final notable association between Mike and a well known YouTuber. Mike is dating popular vlogger HayleyGHoover. We have written about Hayley here on YouTubeStars four times over the last 2 and a half years. You can see her latest vlog in which she talks about dressing up as a sheep, here. Watch the delightful Sheep video (or is she a goat?), here. Finally, watch Mike on Hayley's channel, singing his charming original song, "Hey Molly" - renamed "Hey Hayley" for this performance.
Now, our interview with Mike Lombardo!
Hi Mike! Tell us a little about yourself, please.
Well, I play the piano. I like grilled cheese and Halo and bad horror movies. I once tried to ride a shopping cart off my roof.
How long have you been singing, playing and writing music?
I've been playing basically since I was born. We have pictures of me playing at age 2 so I must have started before then. I'm not sure when I started writing. I started a band with some buddies in 8th or 9th grade so around then, probably. We weren't very good though.
Who are some of your favorite Musicians, both on and off YouTube?
I am a big fan of Coheed and Cambria, Toto, The Eagles, Paul and Storm, Paul McCartney, basically anyone who's on that virtuosic level of instrumental and compositional skill. Some of my favorite youtubers are Jack Conte ,my good friends Anna P , Dylan Galvin, and Sara Parsons, and the whole DFTBA crew as well. My favorite of the week is Dr. Noise.
How did you get started on YouTube?
I don't really remember. I used to have an account when I was in college and I just talked and did stupid things on it. That ended up getting deleted. In January 2008 I started posting some live clips and then original songs in the fall of that year. So I've had my current channel for almost 2 and a half years now. I just surprised myself by checking the day. January 1 2008. That seems like forever ago to me.
What do you think is the best video you have made so far?
That's a tough one. Most of the 'popular' ones are old and I'm not happy with them because I've improved since I made them. My favorite just to listen to is the 'That Will Be The Day' demo that I did, I think, because that song is hard to separate from its production. I think the percussion and the full band instrumentation really help the groove and so it was cool to put all the pieces together on that one when I was writing it.
How have your friends and family reacted to your music and your videos?
A lot of my friends from Berklee are focusing on the more traditional touring model and they really don't spend a lot of time on the internet in the way that I do, so they're not really in tune with the whole youtube community. Most of them either don't know I'm involved with it or don't understand how it all works, I suppose. Some of them are just getting into it now, which is cool. My best friend Sam still lives in my hometown and he always asks me how it's going but he doesn't spend a lot of time on youtube either. Most of the time he's either mixing sound for us or sitting in on drums for some local shows. So my internet world and my 'local' world are pretty separated at this point, and that's probably good.
Tell us about your time at Berklee.
Berklee is, as my friend Jesse likes to say, the four years that you suck. It's basically putting yourself in a situation where everyone else is better than you. Not just learning from teachers, but learning from students, and the players there are the best players in the world. It was really eye opening and I think it went a long way towards helping me find my individual sound. By far the most enriching thing was sitting in a songwriting class with lots of great songwriters and hearing how they handled the same assignments.
What has been your experience with the YouTube community in general and with other YouTube musicians?
It can be hard to get in touch with people just because of the sheer numbers that most of them have to deal with, but the people that I've been involved with have generally been really nice, gracious people. All the people involved with DFTBA are super cool and overall, the rest of the musicians and community that I have come in contact with have been very cool people.
How do you feel about "haters" on YouTube who leave rude comments?
It's just ignorance. No one who has ever worked hard to practice and master an instrument or a song would ever say something insulting about someone else posting music. I think it comes from people who can't play or don't want to put in the time to learn and are jealous of those who have made the commitment. In addition to the rudeness, it's also idiotic: If you don't like what you're hearing, stop listening to it and go listen to something different. Only a moron would continue to take the time to listen to the entire thing, log in, type up and leave a mean comment. It's probably a great way to get in trouble with YouTube, though. Most youtube musicians have very loyal followers and anyone leaving rude comments will probably get flagged a bunch of times by the musician's fans. Now, there are some commenters who will say "I appreciate the skill involved but it's not my style" or otherwise respectfully indicate that they didn't like it. That's fine, and I don't want to speak for others, but personally I welcome the comment. Nothing wrong with not liking someone's music, but that is absolutely no reason to say mean things about them. A lot of my friends are involved in styles of music that I personally don't enjoy listening to, but that doesn't mean they don't work hard on it, or that they are talented and skilled. It just means it's not my personal taste. Some people have trouble distinguishing between "You suck and have no talent" and "I do not like this type of music." I don't like Brad Paisley's music but he's an incredibly talented dude and it would be a mistake to say "Brad Paisley sucks." I made a vlog about that a while back on my second channel because I think it's something that we can all be guilty of sometimes and I wanted to encourage people to be mindful of it.
What else do you like to do in your free time, besides music and making videos?
I really enjoy a good video game, although I just haven't had time lately. Over the summer, I played a ton of Left4Dead with my friends from home, and I'm really into stuff like Max Payne and Mirror's Edge. I tend to really gravitate towards innovative, artsy games rather than some of the more mainstream stuff like Counter-Strike or Quake. Halo is probably one of my favorites of all time. I don't own any consoles, so I just play on my PC. I'm also in the process of watching all of The X Files episodes. I'm currently on season 4. Besides that, I try to spend a lot of time outside - Sam and I love going out in the woods and practicing target shooting and just walking around. It's nice because I have to spend so much time sitting on the computer that getting outside and running around with Sam and being loud is a nice change of pace.
Please tell us about your upcoming tour.
Well I feel that the most important aspect of my music is the live show, rather than the recordings. I kind of think of the recordings as a tool to make sure people are familiar with the songs when they see us at shows. Some artists have to tour to support their album; I put out albums to support my tour. It's what I look forward to most. This summer, we're going to Indianapolis, Chicago, Philly, NYC, and I have a few upstate NY stops scattered around. It's only a 2 week tour but we're looking forward to it. Exact dates are on my site , and our opening act for this tour is our good friend Zarni DeWet. She's a friend from Berklee and she's a totally awesome pianist and songwriter. We're also catching up with a few of my other college friends for various stops along the way, so I'm pretty exited to play with them again. I went through a lot of extra trouble to make sure all the shows are All-Ages, so if anyone is around, please come out, see us, and bring some friends :)
Tell us about your latest album, "Songs For A new Day."
It's a big one for us. It's 2 discs and a movie and we spend a year putting it together. It's by far our best recording performance to date, and I think we've really raised the bar for ourselves. The second disc is a bonus CD. When we were recording our first record, "The Fordham Sessions," back in early '09, we were kind of squeezing it in between final exams and shows with other groups, so we didn't really have the time, budget, or resources to do everything we wanted to do with it. We figured, since we were in the studio anyway, it would be cool to go back and revisit the tunes from the Fordham Sessions and try to record them as they were originally intended. It's not just re-mastered, it's re-recorded, everything, from scratch. Fans of the first album will notice an enormous improvement in the performance and sound quality, and new fans will be able to check out some of our older material. And it was a lot of fun for us to do, as well, so I'm glad we got to do it. There was also a song that we originally cut from the first release of The Fordham Sessions because it just wasn't working with the layout of the record. We revisited that song and got together a good recording of it, and we've included it as a bonus track. I don't believe we've ever performed it, so I think it's brand new to most of the fans. So that's 21 tracks on 2 CD's in total, and also when you order the physical through DFTBA, you can download a 23-minute making-of video that shows the various steps of us recording the album. I think a lot of people don't realize how much work and how many people have to come together to create a CD with one person's name on the front, so we wanted to show a little bit of that.
What is your relationship with DFTBA records?
I've had a great relationship with them. Obviously they don't operate like a traditional label, and so it's much more of a symbiotic relationship. Alan Lastufka, one of the co-founders, is a great extra set of ears for new ideas, and he really likes my writing and ML3's sound so it's great to be working with people who care about the music and are excited to work on it. Obviously, financial interests are unavoidable because Alan and I both do what we do for a living, not just as a hobby, so you've got to be careful of the decisions you're making so you can feed yourself, but I think Alan knows the words to our songs better than I do, so we know he's making decisions about what's best for the music and for the artists, and not just how to "make a ton of money." If money is really that important to you, do not go into the field of professional music. ;)
How did you first approach DFTBA, and any advice for other YouTube musicians looking for a label?
DFTBA is pretty unique amongst indie labels. To my knowledge there's nothing else around that handles things the same way. One thing that they do have in common with most indie labels is they do not accept unsolicited submissions. That means you can't approach them about being signed. If they want to work with you, they'll come to you. Alan wrote a blog entry about it here. People interested should read the article, but the basic idea is a record deal won't make you more successful. It just means you make your payments to someone else and you have to go to the post office less. If you don't build a following on your own, a label will not work with you.
What does DFTBA do to promote you, and what percentage of sales do they take?
They handle the distribution of my music. That means I write, record, produce, and mix it. Alan masters it (basically making sure the volumes are uniform so you don't have to keep turning up and down your volume knob when listening.) Then they get the CD printed and boxes and when people order it, they mail it out. Basically all the things that I find annoying. This is not the role of a traditional label. Currently their standard contract is 60% of the income goes back to the artist, but that can differ per contract / per artist.
What is the Mike Lombardo Trio (ML3)?
ML3 is basically the group that I record with and sometimes perform with. It's my 'full band.' My drummer, Andy Rumschlag, plays on all the recordings and all the albums, and he's with me on tours. He plays a huge role in planning and logistics, and contributes an enormous amount to our songs, arrangements, and production. I might even say he's a co-producer of the album. Andy's input is a big part of the Mike Lombardo sound. Our bassist Ellen Angelico is actually a country guitarist by trade, but she was a good friend of mine before I got a group together and she agreed to play bass for a few shows. We all loved it and so she stayed. Ellen's an incredibly busy girl so she is very rarely available to tour with us, and she chooses a lower level of involvement in the 'band' decisions, but she plays all the bass tracks on the albums. She's written most of the bass material, as well. Anything that I didn't specifically write into the song, she's come up with on her own. That groovy little fill in the pre-chorus of "Caroline," for example. That's an idea that she brought to the table and we built into the song. When Ellen can't join us for tours, we have had a few different bassists play with us. This upcoming tour, we'll be joined by Alex Smith, another friend of ours from Berklee.The problem with the name 'ML3' became more obvious as we were releasing more stuff. Sometimes we wouldn't have Ellen with us. Do we still bill it as ML3? or Mike Lombardo? And I also realized if everything was released under one name, we could double down on promotion instead of promoting 2 different brands, having 2 different iTunes listings, etc. So while we still refer to our live show as ML3, everything is legally cataloged under 'Mike Lombardo' just so everything is in one place.
What other projects are you working on?
Ooh, lots of stuff. I'm planning collabs with RockstarRaquel, MimsieSky, Tom Milsom, Luke Conard, and a few others that I'm not going to mention yet. I'm also writing for my next album, I'm one of the head admins at the DFTBA forums, I run a musical networking community and podcast with Jeff MacDougall, and lots of other stuff in the works that's too early to talk about ;)
What do you think of that fabulous YouTube vlogger and writer, Hayley G. Hoover?
I think she needs to stop resting on her laurels and make some new videos. I mean, seriously, I want to be entertained.
What are your plans for the future?
I'll be moving within the next year or so, to the midwest. Andy and I are going to try to start a live music venue. I can't afford to do that, yet, so once this tour gets wrapped up, basically lying low and saving up to move.
Here's an awesome acapella tune with Mike singing all the parts. After the song, Mike talks about the tour stops and the new release, "Songs For A New Day." Read on to see how YOU can win a copy of this 2-CD set!
Mike's band is in a contest to open for John Mayer in his Scranton, PA show. Help Mike out by voting for his song, "Abby Never" on the OurStage Judge page. Watch this video and Mike will tell you all about it!
We will pick two people who comment on this interview at random and send them a free copy of "Songs For A New Day." The contest begins today, Monday June 7th 2010 and ends midnight Sunday June 20th 2010 Eastern Time.
Here are the rest of the rules: Comment on this interview here at YouTubeStars using the comment link you will see below, and please include your YouTube channel name at the end of the comment. Do NOT put any links in your comment. Comments containing links will not be approved. Multiple comments are okay but only one will count as an entry. Two commentors will be chosen at random after the contest ends and will be notified with a Personal Message (PM) at YouTube stating that they have won this contest. Winners must reply to the PM with their mailing address within one week. If a winner does not reply, a new winner will be chosen at random.
So tell us what you think about this interview and what you think of Mike and his music. Two of you will win a copy of Mike's new release!
Comment below! Good Luck!
- GarageRockRadio on YouTube
I've watched him grow as a performer. The talent is obvious, but what he's doing with it behind the scenes is what separates him from being just a musician, and instead a hub of creativity. I can say I've met and worked with over 50 artists directly through associations with Mike - which scares the crap outta me, because I thought I knew people before I met him.
Good interview, and if you haven't snapped up the new 2 disk CD, you're missing a treat.
Tom Giarrosso - BoffoYuxDudes on YT
Danielaf555 on YT
I thought the interview was very amusing, and that Mike Lombardo has a rather strange affinity for hats.
I really like his storytelling style, it's incredibly unique like all the artists who hook up with DFTBA.
Great interview! I love when musicians I like are good people; makes me want to support them and spread the word about them more.
YouTube name: abcdefghijkati3
~ Kisachan18 on youtube!
Mike's CD is on DFTBA Records and they do ship to the UK. So you are in the running to win the contest!
A while later, after descovering his musc channel, I discovered his jeffisold channel. Mike is a smart vlogger, i like when he expresses his opinion on all sorts of topics and his responses to the questions show that. Not only is he talented musician but he also seems very down to earth and I'd really wish to be friends with him in real life.
~leenybella on youtube
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