GUITARIST EXTRAORDINAIRE MIKE KERR TALKS ABOUT THE MIKE KERR GROUP & MUSIC BY: STEPHANIE STEVENS
MIKE KERR is an amazing guitar player from Massachusetts. I was introduced to him, from the band he created FIRSTBOURNE, after being at a festival that they played and hearing so many amazing and positive things about the band and his playing.
Along with his busy schedule, different bands he plays in; he has also done two solo records; THE FIRE and THE TRUTH OF A LION. Influenced by the rock of the 80’s this guy can modernize, technically assault and emotionally seduce you with the playing he does.
He has gathered fans around the world and have won awards for some of his songs he has written and played. So, with such a talent and gem in my own state I knew I had to get in touch and learn more about this artist.
He was able to answer some questions about his beginnings, the records he has released with the MIKE KERR GROUP and his array of blues, jazz and rock playing.
HOW DID YOU GET INTO PLAYING GUITAR AND AT WHAT AGE? I was inspired to play at first because my dad plays the acoustic guitar and then what made me really get into it was watching video clips from 80s Hits on MTV tapes my dad brought from The USA. I started learning around 9-10 the acoustic and electric 17.
WHEN YOU FIRST STARTED OUT WHO WAS YOUR BIGGEST INFLUENCE AND WHAT DID YOU LIKE ABOUT THAT PERSON AS A MUISICIAN AND HOW HAS THAT PERSON MADE YOU THE PERSON YOU ARE TODAY? John Norum from Europe was My biggest influence from back then and he is still one of my biggest inspirations today. The thing that connects me to his playing the most is the ability to Create very melodic lines, phrase very well, great vintage Tone, great dynamic, great vibrato, great rhythms and he manages to add to all of that just the right amount of shred to it.
YOUR FOM BRAZIL BUT LIVING IN MASSACHUSETTS WHAT MADE YOU COME TO THE STATES AND HAVE YOU BEEN BACK HOME TO PLAY FOR FRIENDS OR FANS OVER THERE? I came to USA to live with my dad in 2001 with a dream to study music, I was 17. I worked hard at a trash company called Bizzaro to buy my first Guitar, a Blue Jackson guitar and start making my dream reality. I normally go to Brazil 2 or 3 times per year, I made several TV appearances along with my sister; singer Kezia Kerr. I also do guitars workshops at music stores and schools down there.
TELL US OTHER THEN MUSIC AND SONG WRITING WHAT ELSE MAKES UP THE PERSON WHO IS MIKE KERR? The music is a giant part of my life, it is really who I am. I love spending time with my wife, playing with the dog, watching horror movies, working out. I'm also the owner of a cleaning company and a landscape company in Martha's Vineyard so I spend a ton of my time managing those companies.
IF YOU COULD DESCRIBE YOUR MINDSET WRITING THE FIRST CD YOU EVER RELEASED THE FIRE IN 2012 AND DO YOU FEEL LIKE THE GOAL YOU SET FOR THAT ALBUM YOU REACHED? On THE FIRE I just wanted to get an album out there. I worked with one of my guitar mentors on this album. He is a fantastic guitarist and he produced the album, his name is Jota Vox. I'm proud of this album. It was my first and there some good Ideas on it. Of course, I'm not happy about my leads on it since I feel like I've mature so much in so many ways in comparison. Anyways, it's a good album, mixing and mastering aren't that great but again it's a good album. My least favorite in comparison to THE TRUTH OF THE LION and my favorite work of course FirstBourne- Riot.
IN 2015 YOU RELEASED A NEW DISC CALLED THE TRUTH OF A LION WHAT KIND OF GROWTH OR CHANGES DID YOU MAKE ON THIS DISC SINCE YOUR FIRST CD? On THE TRUTH OF THE LION I feel like I finally mature on many departments, I feel like the Tone is a lot more to my liking, phrasing, vibrato, dynamics gotten alto better. Rhythms are tight, and this was the First time I had the pleasure to work with the fantastic Adrienne Cowan.
WHO IS SHE, HOW DID YOU MEET AND HOW DID THE WRITING PROCESS GO WITH THE BOTH OF YOU TO COME UP WITH A COMPLETE SONG? Adrienne Cowan, I met her at a show that my band and hers (Seven Spires) shared the stage at Sammys Patio in Revere. She is the definition of Professionalism, everything with her happens so natural that I don't think we plan too much, there is no strategies, we just do it.
COMPARING THE TWO CDS NOW; WHERE DO YOU FEEL THE REAL YOU AS PLAYER REALLY SHINES? THE TRUTH OF THE LION for sure but I'm sure my next one will be better the both, that's the point, right? We need to keep making progress, keep polishing.
WHAT IS MORE IMPORTANT TO YOU IN WRITING A SONG IS IT THE EMOTION OR THE TECHINICAL COMMAND? AND CAN YOU WRITE A SONG WITH ONE AND WITHOUT THE OTHER? Emotion comes first however it is the best thing to combine both.
ANY WORK ON A 3RD SOLO RECORD AND IF SO CAN YOU GIVE US A LITTLE HINT ON NEW DIRECTIONS YOU WANT TO FOCUS IN ON FOR THESE NEW SONGS?
I don't want to talk about it too much yet but I have been talking to a fantastic musician about doing an instrumental album a little different then what is out there, stay tuned.
DO YOU FEEL WINNING AN AWARD FOR YOUR WORK ON THE 2ND DISC TRUTH OF A LION WAS A MAJOR HIGHLIGHT OF YOUR CAREER OR IS SOMETHING MORE BENEFICIAL STAND OUT?
That was one of the best moments of my career and my life. When we got up on that big stage to get the trophy it was me, Adrienne and Ven. With a song that we worked with Jim Oliveira. We were not the MKG! We were FirstBourne, we just didn't know it yet. That was the push we needed to create the band FirstBourne.
I READ YOU ALSO EXPERIMENT WITH SOME JAZZ AND BLUES MUSIC, DO YOU HAVE OTHER BANDS YOU PLAY WITH OR DO YOU DO STUDIO WORK FOR BANDS LIKE THAT? I took some jazz lessons & blues lessons. I also work with other bands other than MKG; which is, \ FirstBourne, Moneyshot (80s set list) Mercybeat, (Blues/rock) Red Neck Yacht Club (county) and the Boogies (Disco). I think it is very important for all of us guitar players to be able to play a good blues solo.
WHEN YOUR PLAYING JAZZ OR BLUES MUSIC IS IT EASIER OR HARDIER FOR YOU TO PERFORM AND WRITE VS. THE ROCK AND HARDER STUFF YOU PLAY?
I'm not really a jazz player. The little bit I studied was for a better understanding of harmony so I don't really write jazz music. In terms of blues; it’s always better to work on improvisations. So, the only type of music that I write is Rock and Metal.
ANY LAST COMMENTS? I want to thank you very much for the interview, it was a pleasure to share a little bit of my life and thoughts with you.