Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Interview with John Michael Rouchell

John Michael Rouchell, lead singer of the New Orleans outfit MyNameIsJohnMichael, took time out from the band's long drive north to the CMJ music festival to talk to us about New York, noodle bars, and being named one of Spin Magazine's Top 25 Artists to Hear at CMJ.

So you guys are on your way up to CMJ?

Yeah, me and the boys, you know, making our way up there in the van.

How’s the drive?

Slow and steady.

Of course. So the real crux of this interview is you guys being named one of Spin Magazine’s Top 25 Bands to see at CMJ. Any added pressure that comes along with that?

Sure, you know, of course there’s pressure. Well, not really pressure as in we get nervous, but more like we view the pressure as something we need to respond to and get better. Like tonight we’re going to stop in Virginia, and I think we’ll just spend the whole night with harmony rehearsals, getting the set down perfect. It’s not so much pressure as just a drive to get better.

I’ve read some stuff on your blog that suggests you guys are all fans of New York.

We’re all big fans of New York. I have a history with New York—my parents lived there before I was around, before I was conceived. I’ve visited there every year of my life, and I guess I’ve got that connection with the city. The boys all love it, too.

Anything different about playing in New York as opposed to New Orleans?

Yeah, definitely there’s a difference. Like between New Orleans and New York… well, let me pause. I’ll talk about New Orleans first. In New Orleans people are out for the party, you know? They want to have a good time, they want to dance, they want to get drunk. For them it’s about the time, you know? In New York people are there to watch the show. They’re a lot more perceptive, kind of more attentive to detail. I remember when we came offstage at the Mercury Lounge in Brooklyn, people came up to us and were like, “I love what you did with the trumpet” or “That was awesome with the trash can drumming.” In New Orleans people came up and say “I had an awesome time!” And there’s nothing wrong with it, it’s just different. And it might have something to do with our sound being a little more foreign, a little more out there up north. Like in New Orleans our sound may seem more natural, but when we go up to New York and do our Big Easy thing it may just get noticed as different by a lot of people.

Any good food up there?

Oh, man yeah. Our favorite spot right now is Momofuku, a noodle house that’s just unreal. Then there’s the Minetta Tavern, just awesome Italian food. And Richard (Dubourg) is a huge fan of Cat’s Deli. Well, actually we’re all big fans of Cat’s Deli.

When Spin wrote about you guys they gave your sound-bite back-story, the songwriting project you undertook last year. Do you ever worry that when people talk about your guys’ band they’ll just mention your back-story and be done with it? Or do you think people are connecting with your music on different levels?

You know, I get asked this question a lot and it’s always a really hard one to answer. The whole reason Spin wrote about us was because of the performance we gave at Bonnaroo, and they didn’t learn about the songwriting project until they did more research. I mean, if people want to just pin us as that, that’s their perception and I can’t change that. I think our record is better than anything I recorded as part of the project, and our live show is the best live show for any band I’ve ever played in. You know, I want people to see us as more, but it’s out of my hands how people want to perceive us. All we can do is keep playing and keep making music, but other than that it’s out of my hands.

Best of luck up there.

Thanks, man.

MyNameIsJohnMichael plays

Thursday October 22nd
The Alphabet Lounge
104 Avenue C
(between 6th St & 7th St)
NY, NY 10009
(212) 780-0202

Saturday October 24th
The R Bar
218 Bowery
NY, NY 10012
(212) 334-0484

1 comment:

  1. That's Katz's Deli. Home of "The Scene" from When Harry Met Sally.