Artist Interview: 1-on-1 with the Michael D. Band

Artist Interview: 1-on-1 with the Michael D. BandA good friend of mine introduced me to this band. And as soon as I started listening to their music I was ready to meet these guys. Singing about six packs they put a whole new twist on modern rock and roll with a dash of country. Perhaps it is the twang in his voice that makes me think about all of the great country music I used to listen.  I would even consider them to be country before I consider them rock. The lead vocals are incredible, some of the best I have heard from an original band in quite some time, and their skills on the stage set them up for whatever they want to achieve in this business. Plus they have a ton of experience. Working with guys that have toured all over this country, and touring this country themselves, they are a true example of what it takes to make it. I have not met these guys yet, but hope to soon. I highly suggest not only listening to their music but seeing a show in a town near you soon. It is my absolute pleasure to introduce you to the Michael D. Band.

Let me guess. Your name is Michael?

Yep.  The name of the band comes from when I was living and playing music in Nashville.  Players in bands change so much there that I thought the best way to do it would be to have my own name in the band, that way there was always at least a little consistency.

Tell me about the guys behind you.

I think the rest of the guys in the band are just as important, if not more so than I am to the band.  I wouldn’t be half as good as a solo act as I think we are as a band.  As a former back-up player in a previous band, I understand the importance of every member of the group.  Each person plays such a vital role in making the overall product successful.

We’ll start with my lead guitar player, Kevin Rawlings.  He is from Carlisle, Kentucky. He played nationally for years.  Met up with him when I was playing music in Kentucky through my bass player.  He used to tour with John Michael Montgomery as a guitar tech.  Kevin is a great asset because he has taken the time to make me a better guitar player, and he’s good at reading a crowd.

My bass player is Aaron Francis.  He hails from Richmond, Kentucky.  Aaron has been in the band the longest – over two years now.  He joined the band when I moved from Nashville up to Lexington and reformed the band.  Aaron is easily the most naturally talented bass players around.  He has played in several different bands in the past of varying genres, so he’s well versed in several different styles of music, which is so helpful when you’re trying to sound unique.

The drummer is Brent Johnson.  He comes from Steven’s Point, Wisconsin.  Brent is the newest member of the band.  He’s been with us for about four or five months now.  Brent was the missing link for us.  We had tried a couple different drummers, but Brent was the one who fit what we were trying to do; he’s well trained in different styles of music, but really plays country music drums the way they should be.  Brent is able to hear a new song and have ideas of ways to make the composition more solid.

Each member of the band is also strong vocally.  A lot of times there are good players, but it’s rare to find good players that are also good singers.  At times we are able to do four part vocals, which helps to set us apart from a lot of other bands.  Fans seem to always be impressed with the ability to do fancy multiple part harmony.  Plus each guy in the band sings lead on at least a couple cover songs each night.

Do you write all your own lyrics?

On original music, I write most of the lyrics.  There have been those rare occasions when I’ve co-written, but I personally find it difficult.  I do find that other people have given me good ideas for songs though. We also cover a song or two from a couple of unsigned local and regional bands.  If we are really impressed with their music and think their song would fit in well with what we’re trying to do, sometimes we’ll get permission from them to play it live; and of course give them credit for the song on stage.

Describe your genre in one word.


You seem to tour a lot. What is your favorite venue?

We pretty much tour constantly all over the country.  In the past year we’ve been everywhere from Portland, Oregon to Key West, Florida. A couple places really stand out like The Saddle Rack in Fremont, California.  It’s a large venue with a fun crowd that likes to party. Also The Lonesome Dove in Bismarck, North Dakota.  This was the first club we played at as a nationally touring band, so it’s kind of special for us.  The fans there have really made us feel welcome every time we’ve been there. Lastly, RT’s Bar and Grill in Richmond, Kentucky, and Felt’s in Corbin, Kentucky.  Both of these venues became “home clubs” for me when I was playing in Kentucky a lot, and we have a great fan base there that loves our music and are always asking when we’re coming back.

What is the biggest crowd you have ever played?

We played for about 10,000 people at the UFO Festival in Roswell, New Mexico.

The smallest?

Not sure, but definitely less than ten people.

What are you drinking on stage?

That depends on the venue, as well as how we’re feeling that day/night.  Most times either water or beer (brand usually doesn’t matter.)

Where are you originally from?

I’m from Bloomington, Indiana.

If you could live anywhere in the world where would you go?

I’m not sure about living there, but I’d at least like to have a vacation home in St. John in the Virgin Islands.

Who are some of your biggest influences?

Surprisingly, Pearl Jam.  I love their music, and how they’ve constructed their career. Also, I’m influenced by the hair band music of the 80’s, and, being from Indiana, by John Mellencamp.
I also have learned a lot about songwriting from some of the red-dirt music coming out of Texas.

You have shared the stage with a handful of famous acts. What artist is the most memorable?

My favorite show was with Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson.  After my set, Merle went on stage, then when he was done he sat in with Willie.  Together they performed “Poncho and Lefty” which is one of my favorite country songs of all time.  It was incredible to be on standing on the side of the stage watching them perform that song.

What is the most embarrassing thing that has eve happened to you on stage?

This isn’t very embarrassing, but one night I was wearing an old pair of jeans and moved a certain way that caused the front of the crotch area of the jeans to completely rip open.  Luckily it was almost the end of the show.

Do you ever forget the words to your own songs?

Occasionally, especially if its one we haven’t played in a while.

Where do you guys practice?

Mostly in hotel rooms.  We actually had a hotel room rehearsal this afternoon.

Do you have a job outside of music?

Nope, this is our full time job.

How do you know Anita Kerlin?

She is a friend of my wife.  I met her when we were living in Indy.

You have been all over the United States. Tell me about some of the sights you have seen.

Part of what I love about traveling is being able to see the country.  It’s amazing how different the landscape can be from region to region. We were traveling along a highway in Montana last summer and saw a mountain range that looked just like a painting.  And driving through Colorado in the winter time is pretty impressive.  And I love the ocean, so the Pacific Coast Highway had some gorgeous views too.

You tell a lot of stories in your lyrics. Tell me a story.

Here’s a quick story that just happened:  I went on vacation to Northern Italy last week.  We were scheduled to get back in the US on Thursday, and I had a show in Vegas on a Friday.  So I woke up last Thursday morning in Italy, and went to bed in Las Vegas – about twenty-six hours later.  And the funny part about that is that one night I was having dinner in the town Bellagio, Italy, and the next night I was at The Bellagio Casino.  The casino is actually named after the town: Steve Wynn named the casino after he visited Lake Como and the town of Bellagio.  He liked the name of the town so much that he named his casino after it.

I see you are on Facebook as well as MySpace. What are your thoughts on MySpace?

MySpace has its pros and cons. It’s good for independent artists b/c its an on-line avenue to get your music heard.  And your fans don’t have to be members to go to your site and listen to your music.  Plus you can post videos and your tour schedule. The problem is that it seems to be a little outdated, because Facebook has become the more popular social interaction site.  So it seems that a lot of people on MySpace are either younger, or haven’t moved over to Facebook yet. But saying that, I still think MySpace is a great tool for artists and that every artist or band should have a profile there.

Are you on Twitter?

I created a Twitter account a while ago, but never really got into using it.  Maybe someday; but probably by the time I get around to it, Twitter will be outdated too and I’ll have to figure out some other new fad-site.

You are heading out to Las Vegas for the PBR World Cup. Planning on hitting any casinos while you are out there?

We actually just got done playing in Las Vegas for the PBR.  We actually stayed at Treasure Island Hotel and Casino, but none of us did any gambling.  We play in casinos on occasion, so for us its not really a big deal to be in one. Plus, my rule is that I should be making money while out on the road, so I usually don’t spend a lot while touring.  and as much as I love blackjack, I know in the end thats just money I won’t be taking home.

I have never seen a show before. Tell me what I can expect when I see you perform live.

We like to pride ourselves on having an energetic show.  If we don’t have energy on stage, how can we expect the crowd to react to what we’re trying to do?  Plus that makes it more fun for us. We also like to think that we have something in our show for everyone.  We play a lot of modern style country, but also some classic country as well as modern rock, classic rock, and southern rock.  We even throw in a touch of jazzy blues occasionally.

If you could meet anyone alive or dead whom would it be?

Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam.  I love his songwriting and his passion when he sings.

What does the D. stand for?

That’s the mystery…no, my last name is Diekhoff.  its hard to pronounce and doesn’t sound like a cool country last name, so instead of having a fake stage name I just shortened mine to an initial.  and plus it has just a touch of mystery to it, so a lot of people are curious and ask.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Still touring for sure.  But on a bigger stage and making more money doing it though.  I’d also like to be able to walk into a record store and see my albums on the shelf; or maybe an empty spot where my albums should be because they’ve sold out!

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

A great songwriter and performer.  And someone that truly loved what he did.

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

Have fun! No matter what you do in life, have fun doing it.  I think everyone should try to have at least one enjoyable experience every day – otherwise, why get out of bed? My philosophy on life is this; live for the moment. If you want to do something, go do it.  No excuses.  Go live.  You never know if you’re gonna wake up the tomorrow, so make today the best you can. So many people die so young and never get the opportunities that we have, so while we’re still alive, go out and take some chances – have fun. (Yeah, I know it sounds a little corny.) Oh, and last thing. Expand your musical horizons.  Listen to new and different styles of music; hear new and different music!