inteview by Ian C Stewart
AUTO3 fall 1996

Tell us about your home studio. What kind of toys do you have?
Well, there's not much to talk about my home studio, but the one which I've utilized to record the "Abstractions" CD was pretty cool. Basically, the whole record was recorded directly onto a MAC computer on a Session 8. As far as the outboard gear I've used my ancient Yamaha SPX 90, a Quadraverb and a bunch of other things I can't remember now, ha ha. The guitars were all Ibanez and the amplification was by ADA/Mesa/Boogie and Ampeg. It took a while to get the sound just right, but it was worth it as I really like the way the CD sounds.

When did you start trading your tapes through the mail and who were some of your early contacts?
Hmm. I guess I was 18 at the time. I went all out to get into the New Talent columns in the guitar magazines and such. It was some work, I tell you, but I think that I've proven myself to a lot of people that I'm still in contact with to this day. At that time I'd been sending tapes to anyone I could, a lot of friends and industry people, you know-- anybody.

How did you like Berklee? Would you recommend it to others who wish to make their careers playing music?
I must say that I did like Berklee very much. Different people have mixed opinions, but as far as myself it was a great choice to go through all that training and what-not. I believe that you must put in a lot of work to get anything and that's what I did to improve as a musician and as a person. As far as going there, I would never stop anyone from getting an education in music. It doesn't mean you must become a classical or jazz musician. Look at me, ha ha. But by the same token I don't believe that you have to go to music school or get a degree. Many musicians did not choose to go that way and they're unbelievable, so, you know- everyone must do what is right for them.

How do you write songs? Are they written out on paper first or do you jam ideas out?
-Actually I do both. I can read and write music, so if I get an idea in my car I can always jot those things down at a red light or something, ha. But most of the stuff is done on a 4-track before going to record for real. Also the type of music ISOLATION CHAMBER plays, it is hard to write down...

What's the wackiest, most bullshit guitar you ever saw? (I just went to my first guitar convention and happened to have bullshit guitars on the brain)
That's funny. Well, I recently saw a guitar that was shaped like a machine gun. It was painted blue with ugly knobs-- I was like "What the fuck?"

Are there any releases on Beyond Flat Nine Records apart from your own "Grind Textural Abstractions" album?
At this moment no, and honestly I don't see releasing anybody else's music anytime soon. Mainly because it takes money and time and who has any of these anymore? Ha.

Why aren't you recording for Shrapnel?
Well, they haven't offered so I went with a different route.

What's the first concert you ever saw?
Bon Jovi and Keel opening up. I just moved to the states. I remember it being a big thing then. Kind of funny now, but...

The "Abstractions" inside the tape cover are deep, man. Ever consider a second career as a poet?
Well, funny you asked. First of all- thanks, I really appreciate your comment. It's funny, because I've recently released a book entitled "Broken- 16 Constructions" that has poetry in a similar vein. I hope to do that more as it really helps me to release a ton of stuff from inside without screaming into anybody's faces, you know... Not to plug it or anything, but the book is $7US, $9 World c/o the IC address below.

I know you must have something huge planned for the follow up to "GTA." Any chance of a verbal peek?

O'righty then. Well, it will kick ass. The music will be a lot heavier, even darker. Maybe, maybe more lead guitar, BUT definitely still different from the so-called "guitar records." Perhaps the CD will be accompanied by a poetry book. Wow, I better stop here. But I think that you'll dig it.

What kind of reaction has "GTA" gotten? Do you remember any bad reviews?
Ha, I'm not going to answer any of that. Not to jinx anything, but I feel really lucky as people/press/fans are digging the record. Guitar World magazine has given it 3 1/2 stars out of 5, so I'm really glad about that. And I really appreciate the support from anybody who takes the time to give the disc a listen.

Worst gig you ever played?
Oh no! Ha ha, well. It was a charity concert where my old band was sandwiched between a keyboard duo and a brass band. Can you say "not fit"? Actually an older lady with a cane hit my feet until I said "this is ridiculous." So I packed and went home. Real story. Hey- you asked!

What is Mr Mike listening to these days?
Well, it's all weird. While doing this interview I have Sade on and earlier today I listened to Meshuggah- I love that band. I also dig Fear Factory, Carcass, Cynic. I like a lot of stuff, sometimes I enjoy listening to Chopin (especially his 26 preludes), etc. Kind of weird, huh?

Going to see any of the KISS reunion shows?
Uh, sorry. A lot of my guitar students are though. Oh well...ha.

Last comments?
Yeah, thanks for doing this interview. It was very cool. Also, for more information on the band Isolation Chamber, write to us. You can buy the cassette for $8US, $10 world, or the CD for $12US, $14 world. My instruction book for guitar, "Ridiculous Riffs For The Terrifying Guitarist" $15US, $18 world. Wild Rags will rerelease the CD soon and look for my vocal band PAIN MUSEUM, which includes Tom Kaz (of WOOD) on bass, and Gary G (ex-B-52s tour) on drums. Promised to rip! Thanks!