Artist Interview: 1-on-1 with miggs

Artist Interview: 1-on-1 with miggs


     1. discovery of something fortunate
     2. the accidental discovery of something pleasant, valuable, or useful

I love when random moments become gems. That gem came for me recently when I discovered miggs. What was random about it was how I came about my encounter with the group. They are currently on tour with Scott Weiland and his new band the Wildabouts. As a long time Stone Temple Pilots fan I was trying to arrange a meet and greet with Weiland but instead found myself on the miggs tour bus doing an interview with them.

A quick history: The band was formed in 2001 in San Francisco and is made up of current members Don Miggs (vocals / guitar), Michael Lombardo (bass / vocals), Walker Adams (drums / vocals) and John Luzzi (guitar / vocals).  Their current album, their fifth, is called 15th & Hope. I’ve never been good at comparing genres so I’ll just say that their music pulls you in and engages you. The music draws you in and it’s the lyrics that employ you. I have their song “Stars” playing on repeat as I write this. “Stars” along with “Pretty” are the best singles off the new release.

Miggs – Stars

So back to the show. Miggs was the aforementioned gem basically because Weiland’s performance was a complete mess. (I don’t want to hang the guy out to dry and his personal issues certainly aren’t a secret, so we’ll move past that). Miggs however were a reminder of why I enjoy live shows. There was a certain unpredictability to Don Miggs at center stage. Everything from sharing the difficulties of life on the road (and subsequently dedicating the song “Home” to his wife and two boys) to spitting water in the air and jumping into the crowd for the band’s cover of the Rolling Stones’ “Can’t Get No Satisfaction”. You can tell that miggs puts it all out there for their shows and by the response you can also tell that the crowd loves it.

It was a stellar show and it made me really appreciate the guys taking some time pre show to let me interview them.

High and low moments of the tour?

Don: The lowest moment, unfortunately, was in New York at Irving Plaza when the power went out. This amp went out and was making a lot of noise. A couple of nights ago my microphone went out and I just went out into the crowd and started singing. The audience gave us so much love for that. Where with this, there was a buzz and you couldn’t even sing over it. We just had to stop and the minute it stopped we went back up and the audience was just really into the fact that we didn’t give up.

The best is having a roomful of receptive people, like 2,000 people. When you first walk in there like 60 of them may know you. When we were in Cleveland you could see it collectively…

Walker: This is one of those tours where you don’t know how they (the fans) are going to take you, as the opening band. Scott, and STP have those crowds where even if you are good they may hate you because you’re not who they came to see. But I’ve been blown away each night by how receptive everyone’s been.

Any particular cities?

Don: Chicago, Cleveland, Bethlehem (PA), New Jersey. Really, every night. There hasn’t really been a bad night. Probably the most uncomfortable was the first night because it’s the first night and there were only 800 people. Our smallest show. It was a cool real rock room. It wasn’t bad, it was just our first night.

Talk about touring with big bands.

Don: Yeah, we’ve been out with Thriving Ivory, the Plain White T’s, Ed Kowalchuk (Live), and KT Tunstall. That’s how we met this guy (pointing to John Luzzi).

John: I was doing merchandise for them last summer, and I also had a band with Pete and Scott from Candlebox and Terry McDermott from The Voice. We were opening up the whole thing.

How did you get booked on this tour?

Don: We were asked. Our agent is always scouring to get whatever the best tours are.

What’s the meaning of 15th & Hope and the house on the cover of the album?

Don: If you Google “middleclass, America, homes” that is the picture that comes up. So the idea was, we were in an election year, is that everyone is looking for their corner of  “15th & Hope”, their piece of the American Pie. Not necessarily the biggest house or the smallest, just something. So that was sort of the idea of the album

Walker: And it tied in a little with the producer Phil Ramone.

How was it working with award winning producer Phil Ramone?

Don: It stunk! (Laughs.)

Michael: The guy has no ear! (Laughs.)

Don: He only has 15 Grammy awards!

Michael: He had a way of extracting things out of you without you even realizing what was going on. You’d be like, “Wow, I didn’t even realize that,” and he’d say, “Play it!”

Don: Walker kind of alluded to it with the title of the album. Part of that for us was fun to name it that because at the time Phil had 14 Grammy awards and we said let’s name the album 15th and Hope, and hope we’ll be his 15th Grammy award. And then he got a Grammy for Paul Simon and Tony Bennett last year, so he got his 15. We got screwed and didn’t get that Grammy because of Tony Bennett and that was the reason.

But Phil was pretty awesome to work with because he’d done so many things. When we first got together with him we were in the studio and we started playing some stuff. He’s an older cat and we were thinking that we were going to end up doing a real soft album. The album’s not hard by any means, but we started playing at one point and he said, “Are you guys going to rock at all?” because we were playing so softly. He wanted the song “Everyone But Me” on the album because it has 3 or 4 different time signatures and he was totally into doing that one.

Can you talk about your other albums?

Don: It’s a smorgasbord, I would say. It’s always been a rock band but it’s had different flavors. I’m not embarrassed by anything we’ve done but I feel like certainly the problem has always been we’ve never had the same people on every album until the last couple and now it feels more like we are making albums as a band. We have an identity now that we didn’t have. You wish that would have happened 10 years ago but it didn’t. Our path has been a different one. It’s been a harder one but there’s real weight to it now. It feels like something more than some of these bands that come out and put out music that is the same genre as ours. But I feel like if you come see miggs now you’re getting an experience of guys who can appreciate where we’re at because we know where we’ve been.  Something feels really good when the 4 of us make music together now. We’re so confident now that we can play with anybody on any stage. I’m not afraid of to get up with anyone. U2 could call us tomorrow and we’d be a great opening band for them. Muse could call; Pearl Jam could call, we’d be a great opening band for them.

A great opening band is what I certainly did end up seeing. It was as I was wrapping up my interview that I had my last serendipitous moment with miggs. It turns out that they will be be back in Indianapolis in just a few weeks playing another show. I intend to be there. Do yourself a favor listen to their music. They have a lot of music on their website, and you can listen to for free. Pick your own gem.

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This is a guest blog post written by Shane Trowbridge.