Artist Interview: 1-on-1 with Michael Luginbill

I am sitting today with a guy that I am happy to have met and to befriend in my time in the industry. He is a talent that is hard to find and matches a perfect image with an incredible voice, polished instrumentals, and lyrics straight from the heart. Taking on a new adventure in a 10 piece act called Straight No Chaser he is his slowly making his way to right where he belongs; the top. His voice can send chills down your back and you can find something to relate to in nearly every song. Sit with me today as it is my utmost pleasure to introduce you to Michael Luginbill.

Where are you from originally?

I grew up and spent most of my life in Indianapolis, Indiana.

What is your first memory of the guitar?

I got a guitar for Christmas in high school but never played it much. I started to really pick up the guitar during my stint working for Celebrity Cruises. We would have a lot of downtime on the ship so I started playing more and more.

Where do you get inspiration for a new song?

Inspiration for a new song can come from anywhere, anything, and/or anyone. I find the best songs that I feel I’ve written have come out of nowhere and just kind of write themselves.

Your solo career has taken a bit of a halt. Tell me about your current endeavor with Straight No Chaser.

Yea, I kind of put the solo stuff on hold to see through this journey with Straight No Chaser. While I was living in Los Angeles, I got a call in January 2008 to come be a part of this new project with Straight No Chaser and Atlantic Records. We put together a Christmas album that was released October 2008 then toured in support of that album throughout December 2008. We are currently in New York recording our follow up album with a tentative spring release date.

How do you know Ryan Ahlwardt?

I’ve known Ryan Ahlwardt for quite a while. We met in junior high school but really didn’t start vibing musically until our later high school years. We were/are in Straight No Chaser together and have collaborated musically on a number of projects. Our first batch of songs that we recorded were done at Airtime Studio in Bloomington, Indiana with Dave Weber. We called ourselves Small Town City, after a James Taylor lyric. Later we formed Mitchell Street Band together along with a great keyboardist/writer Nick Jaenicke. Ryan and I still collaborate to this day.

Dreaming in Blue is my favorite song that you will ever write. What is the meaning behind that track?

Thank you. I really like that track also. It’s kind of a funny story because this song came really fast and really late in the recording process. I had most of the tracks for the album recorded but I felt like I had something else to say but I wasn’t sure what it was. I knew I had it in me; I just needed to find a way to get it out. The track has a kind of reckless abandon feeling in a way, losing yourself in something.

Describe your genre in one word.


What is the largest crowd that you have ever played for?

As a solo artist or with Mitchell Street Band, we played some big private events for upwards of 1,500 people. With Straight No Chaser it would have to be the National Anthem at the Brickyard 400.

The smallest?

I was doing a solo gig in Fullerton, California for five people. Yes, five.

What is your favorite venue to play?

There was this place in Toronto called The Diesel Playhouse. I was there with Straight No Chaser last December. Our show was the last show at the Diesel Playhouse. They were tearing it down the next day. Very cool venue.

Staying single out there on the road?

I am in a relationship right now, so yea, I guess I am staying single on the road. The road is work and there is hardly any time for anything else.

Any plans for a new solo album?

I am always writing, trying to beef up the catalog for when the time comes to do that. No plans as of now though.

Let’s get some pizza. What toppings?

Pepperoni and green peppers.

What is pumping through your iPod right now?

I am really digging this Irish band right now called The Script. They are amazing. Do yourself a favor and buy their album. SNC is actually covering one of their songs on our upcoming album.

Ever get nervous before a show?

All the time. The minute the nervousness stops is the minute I feel like I should quit.

Where can I get a copy of you latest solo album?

The album is on iTunes, www.cdbaby. com, etc.

What are you drinking on stage?

Whiskey with a splash of apple juice. Sounds strange, I know.

Have you ever written songs with anyone else?

Definitely. I feel like some of the best songs I’ve written have been collaborations. I really love writing with Joe Filipow, an Indy based jazz guitarist. He was also the guitar player in Mitchell Street Band for a while. Great musician; plays with a killer groove.

Where do you practice?

Anywhere I can.

Who are some of your biggest influences?

Lewis Taylor, D’Angelo, Chris Martin, Steely Dan, John Legend, and Robin Thicke.

How tall are you?


Let’s say you are about to headline at Madison Square Garden. Who is your opener?

That is a tough question. With any act that I mention, I think I’d feel like I should be opening for them! If I had to choose though, I’d have to say Prince, solo on guitar.

Any rituals before you play a gig?

I like to have a little whiskey before the show and I always try to go for a run the afternoon before.

PC or Mac?


Where do you see yourself in five years?

I don’t think about the future like that. I have enough trouble living day to day.

What do you want to be remembered for when this is all said and done?

That I did things the right way. That I treated the music with respect. That I listened.

I always let the artist get the last word. Go.

I’d just like to thank you, Ricky, for giving me the opportunity to talk with you a little bit. I’ll always consider Indy my home and I hope to be around much more in the next year. Keep it tight.