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pix Interview: Michael Vick pix
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pix pix by Dan McAvinchey  

Page added in August, 2004 More [Interviews]

About The Interview

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Guitarist Michael Lloyd Vick (born Novmber 24, 1972) has performed music in public since the age of 13. At age 18, he formed the Michael Vick Trip, a group that played his originals, along with covers by Jimi Hendrix, Primus, the Allman Brothers and Frank Zappa. His group Wit's End was formed in 1995 with Vick, Patrick William Kelly and James Webb each contributing their unique skills. Vick has studied classical guitar, performed with symphony orchestras, and led numerous improvisational solo gigs.

Dan McAvinchey caught up with Vick to pick his brain on the current state of the business end of music as it relates to independent artists, as well as his personal evolution.


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  Dan McAvinchey: Michael, when did music first attract your interest and attention?

Michael Vick: I guess I was around a small child when sounds and music became of interest, but the first attraction I remember was to the sounds of the guitars on (maybe) AC/DC and Boston. We used to 'bang' a lot, which is guitar-syncing with a tennis racket. I began piano lessons at age 11 and electric guitar lessons at age 13 after playing a friend's father's Stratocaster with a little amp just cranked. I became much more sensitive along the way. All explorations of sound are relative to each individual's experiences in the end. I learned of composition early on, and to this day composing is my favorite aspect of music. My initial classical guitar interests were Andres Segovia and Randy Rhoads. I am taken and inspired by lots of music and sounds, so that is basically the earliest I can recall without going into a trance-like state, and we don't have time for that now anyway.


Dan McAvinchey: Enlighten our readers about the arrary of musical gear you use to get your sound.

Michael Vick: I play many different, yet similar, instruments to achieve my sound. May I start with the one and only Tele C, Old #8 to you; a Fender Fretless Telecaster, an Ibanez Fretless Bass, Alvarez/Yari Classical, Ibanez Electric, Guild Acoustic, Fender P-Bass, Cordoba Classical, Orphariontar with deep Scalloped Frets, 12 String Rogue Acoustic, Santa Rosa Mandolin, Lauren Fretless Baritone Ukulele, Ovation Acoustic with Floating Ukulele Tremolo System from the inventor Mr. Dave Story, Lauren Short-Scale Fretless Classical, Dixen Ukulele, various Flutes/Nose-Flutes, Clarinets, Recorders, Tablas, Dumbeks, Casio Keys, Xylophone, Various Sonic-Toys, TKO Drum Kit, Butter Knives, Spoons, Hair Ties, 2 Boss RC-20 Loop Stations, Boss Stereo Chorus, Boss Super-Shifter, Boss Turbo-Overdrive, Dunlop Cry Baby Wah Wah, Lexicon LXP-5, Fender TWIN, SWR Workingman's Combo 15, Peavy TKO-65, Peavy XM4 PA, Metal Slide, Dunlop H3 Picks, Shure Mics, BEHR Condensers, Tascam US-122 USB Audio/Midi Interface, Sonic Foundry's Sound Forge / CD Architect / Vegas and Steinberg Cubase.

If I am giving a show, clinic or whatever, I will play all of these instruments at once to create sonic landscapes using various unique tunings of my own design. Again, I perform solo classical/jazz shows unamplified, and I unfretted all the fretless Instruments I currently have except for the bass. You must know too that most of the time I can't stand lugging around all of this gear, and one day I just might leave it all and stomp around while half-singing, yelling and slapping my body, along with sounds from our natural world. Now that would be a show to remember. Another show to remember is that the U.S. still has stockpiles of its own WMDs; think about that one afternoon.


Dan McAvinchey: Where do you find it best to write and record your music?

Michael Vick: I can write music just about anywhere, but I prefer to write music in private; so I can channel my energies properly. I record my music almost anywhere too; sometimes with decent results, but locally I work at Charleston Recording with Mr. Jay Miley at the board, and me lurking over him. I also have a small studio at my home where I record (sometimes almost constantly) doing everything from CDs to DVDs, to my web short films. I like G5 Studios a lot over at Visionary Art Publishing too.


Dan McAvinchey: What are you striving to achieve musically?

Michael Vick: Unpredictability, and a sense of something maybe new and familiar simultaneously, with a dash of classical orchestral-era traditions plus a sprinkling of free jazz improv run rampant. Overall musically, I like the idea having sounds of colors mixing through various instruments, composed and Improvised, which I like to call 'structured improvisations'. Did I mention we play really, really loudly sometimes too? Yet, down to a whisper I always end, listen, hear.


Dan McAvinchey: Tell us a little but about your current musical projects, and what you have planned for the future.

Michael Vick: Current projects include everything from promotion with the release of my newest CD "Smell La Mitten" (2004), which is another modern guitar extravaganza with Wit's End and MusicaMundana.TV, to "UnFret My Heart" which is my all fretless CD/DVD featuring fretless electric guitar, bass, baritone, ukulele and short-scale classical guitar, to a video lesson to my new short film "Japanese President", as well as my instructional DVD exploring everything from fingerpicking styles, unique tunings, fretless guitar, symphonic guitar music to the blues, plus how to incorporate appliances into your overall sound (such as "E-Food" with a USB connection via your laptop to your microwave). I am also preparing for some upcoming classical guitar shows and recitals, and I always leave lots of time for pure improvisations.

For the near future, I am getting patents pending on my newest instrument designs, which I am very excited about. Finally, I will be getting some of my instrument ideas into a tangible form so I can record and perform with them, and expand any sort of acessibility factor I had to even start with. Also, I will be finishing a CD/DVD with the tabla player/drummer Ryan Shah. Our schedules are drastically different, and we don't even live in the same town. Although we have some decent material recorded; I plan on finishing up the project when he returns from India after studying with tabla master Sabir Khan again. I am also going to finish up another fretless guitar CD with an exceptional guitarist named Dan Stearns; whom I met at www.kronosonic.com. We record tracks and mail or web post the files to one another, because we do not live near each other either.


Dan McAvinchey: If you could collaborate on one project with one other guitarist, anyone in the world, who would it be?

Michael Vick: Excellent and tough question. I guess if they are in the world then they are alive which narrows down the field a bit, but doesn't make it any easier. I am going to go with the fresh and innovative player Dave "Fuze" Fiuczynski. Dave and I exchanged CDs some months ago - we both like exploring microtones and fretless guitars; so I feel this could be a true meeting of the spirits. Hell, at this pace throw drummer Gregg Bendian in with us, and I feel we would have a 'sick' recording in the making.

Also like I mentioned before, I am working on a project with Dan Stearns, a real progressive who plays fretless and quartertone guitars and more, but I like Jeff Beck too. Huuummmm? I would collaborate with anyone or anything. I have worked alongside an all naked girl dance troupe name Liquid Gold to a belt sander to body piercings to spoken word to school children playing in the school yard to all types of puppetry and beyond. I enjoy it all, at least from a sensorial perspective, and the rest is just selling tickets... right Vai?


Dan McAvinchey: How do you feel about the national guitar-oriented magazines and other publications in the United States and how they are currently covering guitar-oriented music?

Michael Vick: The U.S. has guitar magazines? Well, I follow them on the fly like women's tennis, but with the beautiful state of women's tennis right now, I know who I'll stay behind. Anyway, I check them out between all of the work I do which doesn't leave much time; so I tend to check them out online. One can check out Guitar World's message board to read how a few, or maybe just one, feels about me.

As for Guitar World itself, they had a reader ask a question about fretless guitar recently, and I found Guitar World's answer to be very misleading so I e-mailed their editors and message board. Well the message board created quite a stir, as for the editors; Andy Aledort finally replied with an honest answer about Guitar World's current knowledge of the fine instrument called the fretless guitar.

In contrast, two or three of the largest European guitar magazines have covered the fretless guitar this year (2004), and all featured the definitive fretless guitar resource on the web, which is based in the UK. If all of the U.S. guitar magazines, both electric and acoustic, want to be relevant in 2004, much less 2009, then they need to make a more concerted effort to cover the fretless guitar as a unique and challenging instrument that every guitarist,or even musician, should at least try once. Well, why not? I like to even say to non-musicans, please try it, like I would say to a fretless guitar player, try an Indian sarod or even a hammer dulcimer. All instruments are creative vehicles for all to explore at any given time throughout history - indulge your ears a bit, not to mention your whole existence.

Guitar information, from print to the phenomenon of web based guitar information in 2004, is a plenty, and I love it. Humans can learn in various ways, and various environments help to stimulate the atmosphere of thought, such as magazines, lessons and concerts. I also recently remember reading Guitar Player magazine doing an interview with a 'wild' heavy rock guitarist who said that arranging wasn't creative, and the Maestro, Andres Segovia, played only covers. As much as I am for free speech, I found these statements to be extremely misleading. Statements like these need to be questioned if this particular magazine wants to stay relevant with guitar instruction. Everyone has a bad day, but to arrange an orchestral piece to sound complete and full on the classical guitar is, I dare say, a very creative and even challeging feat.

In conclusion, if the U.S. guitar magazines want to have more of an impact with the global community; they need to balance commercialism with the true artistic and innovative expressions of the guitar in many various forms.


Dan McAvinchey: What do you find to be the advantages and disadvantages of being an independent musician?

Michael Vick: I don't normally feel as 'independent' with all of the help I receive from artists of all kinds, as well as my friends and family, but I do run all of the different computer ventures of Atonal-Hole solo from film, web, CD and promotion - some may say propaganda. I say no to some of it too. This is why I feel 'reality' TV is so popular, because humans always need to feel connected to each other; whether they love or even hate one another, or in group lines set up to take back the future through forward thinking as an independent musician and promoter.

I do feel like a private person when I am working on my music; as for being an independent artist instead of residing on a major label. Well, I would sign with any reputable major or independent; as long as the conditions were to my liking. Because I care about getting my music out to the people in the best and most efficient ways possible. Yes, I have been an independent since the beginning so I guess I am not fully qualified to comment on the other side having not been there yet. Just stay positive and focused in your life's work, and the ups and downs really won't matter as long as you are true to your music. Let me just say an idependent musician in 2004 is a lot different than an independent ten or more years ago with the advent of computers to record, promote and create. Things are looking better overall for independent musicians than almost every other field, except for gynecology.


Dan McAvinchey: Can you share any marketing or promotion tips for musicians about to release their first independent record?

Michael Vick: Always be trying to learn something new in your music and with sounds, even elements of nature - from the microtonal melodies of birds to the sound of ocean waves, moving waters from Vendian and Cambrian time periods (maybe where our true ancestors came from), then from Africa to our modern world today, in 2004. Perform as often as possible everywhere you can! Also, get a gimmick, like giving away free-bananas, or wearing a bucket on your head, or even a Oriental-landing shade of pink and black makeup, and add a 'radio friendly' pop-ish orientation to your sound (do this only if that is where you think your biggest money venture will be). Artists focused on their music can maybe even get a friend to help promote via the web. Web radio stations and Guitar9.com plus the rest of the sea of sound may sometimes seem endless, and that is good. Always remember the world is your target market for that first independent release and all the way through your life span and beyond.


headline Dan McAvinchey: What do you see yourself doing in five or ten years time?

Michael Vick: Aside from being older, and I say, wiser, maybe doing many small to mid European and U.S. tours, with up-to-date CD/DVD web distribution, or whatever the modern format will be. I would also say completing my newest instrument designs and doing some endorsing and worldwide clinics. Hell, maybe meet the girl of my... Well, if I haven't by the time you post this interview. Huuummm? Oh yeah, have some kids you know, and more money (mainly for music). I'll be continuing to unfret any fretted instruments that wind up in my way. And build upon new tunings and sonics never felt possible. Currently, my 36 tone system is coming along nicely.

Thanks again G9 and Dan for indulging me in a little one on one and a shout out to the Intergalactic Cowboy & Benjamin 'Funk' Johnson, and hey, maybe a game of tennis down the way. Plus a very special thanks to my fans all over the world for supporting MVWE and getting my music out!

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