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DailyBoom Your Old School Music Authority

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Exclusive Interview: Mike Tramp Prepares to Release 'Second Time Around' While Embracing the Stripped Down Songs of 'White Lion'




ICYMI

I've been listening to the music of White Lion for more than thirty years, but before this week I've never had an opportunity to connect with founder, Mike Tramp. He has left those days of big hair and spandex in the dust long ago in favor of a much more stripped-down approach. These days Tramp prefers to perform his songs closer to the way they were originally written, with an authenticity that is often missing from other artists. His new album, 'Second Time Around' is set to be released on May 1st and a new single, "The Road" recently dropped ahead of it.

Obviously, as the Coronavirus seems to have a stranglehold on the world right now, it leaves things just about everything up in the air. While Tramp has had show dates canceled he remains positive and hopeful due to the strength that he carries within. Check out his thoughts below!

Mike on the state of the world these last few weeks:

"Everywhere is crazy. I happen to be living on a farm outside the big cities so for the last 10 days, I’ve sort of been in solitude by myself and just working outside. I’ve been starting the day checking out newspapers from around the world online and stuff like that. It’s so unhealthy for us because there’s not a united message. There’s a lot of finger-pointing and it seems like at this moment what would help the world the most is everybody working together for the same reason. Then they can all go and be politicians after that but for right now, the world needs one cause and one direction.

It’s sort of weird to me doing an interview about my album when everything has suddenly changed so drastically around the world within the last two weeks. My tour was canceled and the future is unknown. The future for so many of us has become completely unknown."

Mike on the upcoming release of Second Time Around, on May 1st.:

"It's not like the old days when you had a thousand record stores around that receive the album all on the same day. Now, like 50% is ordered online, maybe 30% is sold at the shows, then maybe 20% are bought in the stores. It’s just the reality today. I will sell 10,000 albums online. Twenty years ago it was millions. For me it's really all about the music and where I am with it because I first write the songs for myself. I know that there are people that want to hear them so I create an album. The physical thing, an album being bought is, of course, a bonus no doubt, but these days the record budgets are so small. So much of the recording is done at home. This business is just a completely different world now.

Some artists on this journey of rock and roll think that there’s no expiration date. I have followed what I can do, what I can sing, how I can perform. That's how I write songs, that's how I sing and that's how I tour. I have no interest in trying to reproduce the person that I was when I was 27 years old. It would be a fight every day because of not being able to reach that level.

At the same time, I’m much more confident and much happier with who I am as an artist today. In many ways, it's beneficial to me the way the market is today. I have to remind myself that I came from nothing and so I’m happy with where I am at. I can always use more but the thing is I can definitely adapt and improvise to the situation that I’m in. I will never put myself into a position where I need something and if that something isn’t there, I can’t go on. I will always make sure that one way or another I’ll survive.

I come from a small family and grew up in a one and a half bedroom apartment with my mom and two brothers. We never owned a car. We had very little, but I had an incredibly happy childhood. Whenever I get connected back to those streets that I came from, I feel rewarded and I feel gifted. You can take everything away from me and I'm strong in that kind of situation."

Mike on the music industry, as it stands now:

"You can’t open a newspaper without hearing about the climates or world climate, so let’s look at it from a different way. Maybe there is also a climate within the music industry and the entertainment industry. Maybe it needs a change. Sometimes nature cleans itself out with a forest fire and it all has to do with balance. Maybe that type of balance has to happen in the music business because it becomes overindulgent. The big bands become too big, the concert tickets are becoming too expensive, people paying a thousand dollars for tickets. The whole point of rock and roll is rebellion, being against the system, and being against capitalism and stuff like that, isn't it?"

Mike on creating music:

"There are so many different reasons why one writes the music, why one records the music and stuff like that. I do it for me. But I really love to hear somebody say, 'You know man, I really love the song and I really like the message that’s coming across in the song.' When you make creative decisions based upon financial goals, it’s just not the right thing. The quality, integrity, and honesty of the artist and its' product have to be first. Then after that, you can kind of make those decisions.

You have to be blind not to see that it’s a different world we are living in. For the last 10 years, I’ve traveled the world and for the most part I’ve been behind the steering wheel touring with CDs, vinyl, and a couple t-shirts on the backseat. A Mike Tramp show is interactive with the audience. After the show I meet and greet people, handshakes, bear hugs, kiss on the cheeks, I open the CDs and sign them, I slap a high five on the way out. It’s the way it is and I feel it's how it should be, for me at least."


Mike on his writing process:

"It has never changed. I've always approached it the same way. I come from the background of Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan, that’s how my mom raised me. I was raised on folk music. We always wrote the songs sort of in that acoustic and Dylanish way because the song itself has to work. I need to be able to say, 'man, that’s great' before we've even added drums, reverb, or harmonies to it. I have written every single song that way and I don’t change that process because it works for me. I don’t need hairspray to go out on stage and I don’t need all of those other types of things. It’s all fine by itself.

I’m sitting there strumming an acoustic guitar wanting the melody and the lyrics to come across at that level. That version, you could give that to Black Sabbath, or to Iron Maiden, or to Coldplay and they would use the melody, but the foundation would be the sound of the particular band. Even though you write a simple song, you could easily go out there and do it with a double bass line and extra power. The songs I write while sitting on the couch, sitting on the floor with the acoustic guitar and the songs can be performed at that level."

Mike on officially touring with the music of White Lion:

"Right now, I’m sitting in my studio which is at my brother’s farm and I have about 283 posters from the last two to three years from touring. Every poster states, that’s Mike Tramp the voice of White Lion with a big White Lion logo. No matter what album I’m doing, no matter what I’m promoting, that’s what every single poster says. It’s what every venue does. Always, for the last 10 years, 50% of my acoustic set has always been White Lion songs. This time with promoting the new album, I decided that I’m going to do a two hour classic White Lion set. The songs are played with me and an electric guitar- some interesting versions and I'll be telling the stories of the music. I just want to let audiences know that White Lion was my band, these are my songs, and this is how I say thank you. The fans always ask about it and now they're getting it. But the one thing it’s not, it’s not a White Lion reunion. It’s why the posters say, 'The songs of White Lion.' 

I did this show last September in Europe when we tried it out and people just love it. I enjoy playing the White Lion songs, especially the versions before they got into the studio, with the big hair and the pants. When you take the reverb and the drums away and all that stuff away, you have a very simple song that is very melodic and you can enjoy it at that level. It’s a pleasure for me to play those songs. The fans are also 30 years older so it’s nice to talk about where the songs came from. Before we were signed and had a record deal it was just a song that two people had written together. Sometimes I compare it to two people that have a child and they love it and take care of it and the second they give it to daycare, it changes. It's really the same thing. Once that song comes out to the world, then it’s not your song anymore."

Mike on being grateful:

"I’m truly grateful to have people coming to my shows now that were coming to my shows 30 years ago. Now we’ve sort of become friends on some level. When your music meant so much to someone that they are still there 30 years later, you can't really buy that feeling for any money in the world. I’m grateful that I’m still here and able to write and make music that people appreciate."


Check out Mike Tramp's official site to order Second Time Around and to see upcoming tour dates.