Mike Vallely is no stranger to the punk scene. He's been a pro skater for 20 years, and also put out a bunch of albums both as a solo artist and as Mike V and the Rats. His latest project, Revolution Mother, has an old school heavy sound, and is building up a fast following. I spoke with Mike briefly by phone from the road.
RC: How's the tour going?
MV: So far, so good. It's been a really good summer. Being out on the road, playing music. You can't beat that. Just the experience of doing it is great, and we've been lucky enough to do this Couch Tour, playing with CKY, and thousands of kids are coming out to these free shows in mall parking lots. It's the exact kind of audience we want to be playing to, so we're really excited for what we have lined up for the summer.
RC: And You guys are playing a lot skate parks and skate shops too.
MV: Yeah, on this leg there's quite a few skate parks and skate shops. Actually, all have done music before and are somewhat set up to be music venues, so we selectively chose these particular parks, but yeah, they're skate parks with a music venue as well.
RC: Are you mixing up a little skating for yourself, too?
MV: Well, I'm not making any promises, but I plan on jumping on my board. Nothing official, not the usual type of skate appearance I'd do; more of low-key kind of show. Just cruise with whoever is still hanging out.
RC: You don't want to take any risks with your body right now?
MV: No, it's not about not taking risks with my body. It's about giving the music 100 percent. I've done and will continue to do both at the same time, at different venues, but this summer I'm making a really concentrated effort to pursue the band all the way. I could physically do both, and I don't really sweat it too hard, I just feel like it's only fair to my band mates and the effort that they're making as well to make sure that I'm totally on point for the music.
RC: And with your latest band, Revolution Mother, how would you describe your sound?
MV: I'm not really one to define music in any particular category; I really don't subscribe to genres, but I would say it's direct. It's direct music that comes from the heart and soul.
The presentation, obviously you can listen to it and hear different influences and different sounds and you could easily categorize it I guess, but to me it's a very natural sound. It's stuff that, everyone in the band, the kind of music we grew up listening to. Kind of heavier, old school punk or early '80s hardcore, and some metal in there as well. But, to me it's really just a direct type of music. There's not a lot of bells and whistles. It's straight up hard music with direct from the soul lyrics.
RC: Is that a pretty similar approach to what you've always done, with your solo stuff, and with Mike V and the Rats?
MV: I think Mike V and the Rats was a more categorized type of music, you could hear the influences directly. It was Black Flag-influenced hardcore music.
My solo stuff has kind of been all over the place, from folk to country, there's even some hip hop sounds, some R&B; I kind of really just mix it up with my solo stuff. But the type of music I'm making with Revolution Mother is the music that makes the most sense for me. I've got to be honest - I'm no crooner man, I can't sing, but the type of music we're playing gives me the opportunity to go all the way vocally and still be effective in a way that's listenable and relatable. You can relate to the music, and to where the music is coming from, and to where I'm coming from lyrically and vocally.
RC: You mentioned the Black Flag influence. I heard you got to sing with Black Flag.
MV: I did, yeah. I don't know how the hell that happened, man. It was like a strange childhood dream come true.
The very first music show I ever went to was in 1984, at City Gardens in Trenton, New Jersey. I went to Black Flag play on the Slip It In tour. They were my favorite band at the time, probably my favorite band of all time, and almost 20 years later, Greg Ginn asked me to be a guest vocalist at the Black Flag reunion show.
There was a lot of controversy about those shows, Ginn probably did more to turn off his fan base than to turn them back on to his music, but I didn't really get caught up in that. There was a lot of politics and a lot of other nonsense going on, but for me it was, hey, Greg Ginn asked me to sing some Black Flag songs and there's no way I could say no. And I'm glad I did it. It was a true honor.