Mike Pinto Interview
Mike, I would just like to say thank you in advance for taking the time to answer these questions. It is greatly appreciated.
To start with how much of an influence would you say Sublime have had on your life both musically and lifestyle?
Musically, Sublime changed everything for me. I was 17 years old when I first heard 40 ounces to freedom. I was playing punk similar to blink 182…it was terrible haha. Then I remember hearing the song “djs” on my friend’s car stereo. I lost it. Bought the CD the next day, and spent the next year learning that style of music…
As for the lifestyle part, it was the soundtrack of every party I threw at my house, every ride to a show. That’s the cd I’d lose my voice to, singing it as loud as I could, as often as I could…like almost every other sublime fan.
It’s safe to say that without Bradley Nowell, there would be no mike pinto as an artist.
I know you moved from Pennsylvania to San Diego a few years back, was this a conscious decision to move to Cali and be part of the scene that Sublime help create or were there other factors involved?
I wanted to move to California because I knew that this style/genre of music was embraced more than back east in Philadelphia. Not that fans’ don’t enjoy the style, but it seemed like I was surrounded more by alternative rock, punk, r&b, and singer-songwriters. People kept telling me that it’d be better to be a big fish in a small pond in Philly than vice-versa, but the west was somewhere I wanted to prove myself…somewhere I wanted to earn respect.
I see that you are playing on the 3rd Alley/Josh Fischel show at DiPiazza’s in September. How did that come about and how does it feel to play with prominent members of the Cali music scene?
I became friends with Todd Elrod, 3rd Alley’s drummer, when I moved to San Diego. He actually tried out on drums, but at the time, I didn’t want to travel up to long beach all the damn time (which I do now w/my new drummer, also from long beach haha). I got hooked up w/the guys from Bargain Music at the troubadour in L.A, and kept in touch. I usually swing by their apartment if I’m in long beach after a rehearsal.
I dig playing with Josh and 3rd Alley because their trying different styles out, especially Josh. My favourite part of a Josh Fischel show is that you don’t know what style of music the next song will be. I admire that.
Also with some members of 3rd Alley having played with Sublime and Josh Fischel noted for his direction of a couple of Sublime videos, do you think that the music has evolved from the days of Sublime?
I don’t know if you can evolve from sublime, because Bradley Nowell’s character cannot be replicated. I see bands try to do it here in So-Cal and beyond, but it’s really painful to watch someone try to match the soul that he (Bradley) spilled out of himself. You can learn from it, but I haven’t seen anyone take that style and improve upon it.
What I myself took from sublime was to not to put yourself in one specific genre of music. Why should I play only reggae when I love people like John Lennon, Johnny Cash, Manu Chao, and the meters?
What is your favourite Sublime song and why? Also which Sublime album is your favourite?
Toughest question so far haha. “Don’t Push” is up there definitely, great imagery and rhymes (if rhymes were valiums I’d be comfortably numb!). Superstar Punani, Boss DJ, 89 vision, and DJs are my top 5…today.
Moving on from Sublime for a moment, which other bands/artists have influenced your music?
Bob Marley and the wailers did it for me just as much as sublime did…and that’s what sublime did. It opened the door to so many different styles I never heard of at a young age. I love storytellers too (Cash, Lennon, Ray Charles, hell even Billy Joel). Anyone who prides themselves on their lyrics catches my ear.
On your second album, I detected a more up-tempo feel to the music. The use of horns on “Knocked Up” gave the impression; please correct me if I am wrong, of a decision to move away from the acoustic sound of your first album?
There’s no direction I intend to take my music. Whatever mood I’m in, is how I’m going to write my song. I must have been in a good mood when I wrote “knocked up”…there’s other songs you can tell I’m feeling different emotions.
How do you come up with your lyrics? Are they personal things that have happened to you or are they just stories?
There’s always a little truth in some of my stories, some experience I recently went through, or an incident that triggered me to pursue that subject topic. A lot of it comes from my wild imagination though, something I’ve had since I was a kid. I’ve been writing stories since I was five or six. When I got a guitar, it just made sense to keep writing my stupid little stories on it.
How do you evolve a song from the first idea, be it a lyric that you thought of or musically or is it often a mixture of the two?
It’s not as calculated as many people might think. Many guitar riffs come from mistakes I make while practicing. The “hook”, as I usually call it, is what I’m searching for. I start with a riff, and then start building chord structures around it.
As for lyrics, I usually have a subject topic that I write down in my songbook. I spend a lot of time thinking about or studying the specific topic, months even. This is separate from the hook and the chords altogether. I brainstorm about what other lines, nouns, or rhymes I might want to include to parallel the way I feel towards a particular subject. Then I’ll combine the two, come up w/horn lines on guitar, etc until I’m satisfied.
What are your future plans, any thoughts of trying to play some shows in the UK?
I try not to think too far ahead really, but I want to write songs till I’m good and dead. I want to stay in this business, write songs for other artists, and travel the world. When people ask me where I want to travel to next, my answer is always Europe. There’s so much culture diversity, and I’m like a sponge when it comes to settling in a new environment. I’d love to spend a year (at least) living in London, Italy, or wherever else catches my attention on tour. If someone were to approach me about a tour to the UK tomorrow, then I’ll see you in there as fast as I can pack my bags.