Metal-Roos: Bringing his full solo show to Australia for the first time, Michale Graves has one of the biggest names in punk, gothic, horror, crossover music, carving his own path and doing it on his terms since the beginning. Being the front-man for the legendary Misfits from 95-2000 coming out to Oz in 97 featuring in film, he has been recording and releasing his own music since 2012. I’m sorry but I have to start with the standard, looking forward to coming down under?
Oh yeah man, of course! I cannot wait to come and rock your country!
M-R: You’re playing Frankie’s in Sydney and Cherry Bar in Melbourne. Both are beloved heavy venues in Australia, amazing vibes – do you know about them? Did you have any say in choosing the venue or was it from the promoter?
I know that those the places are very iconic and mean a lot to a lot of people, so I’m really excited about being able to perform there and it’s a free event so that’s awesome too! Yeah, that wasn’t my decision the promoters came to me and offered me this wonderful opportunity, so I took it!
M-R: Your last time in Australia was with Mickey Ramone on the Blitzkrieg tour – how did the shows go? Anything you’re looking forward to doing in Australia that you didn’t get a chance for last time, if you get the time?
Well, I know there’s not there’s definitely not going to be time this time. I have loved surfing since I was very young, so I love the beach… I love the coastal life if you will. But there is definitely not going to be enough time to visit just enough time to come and rock everybody’s face-off!
M-R: Earlier this year you said you were putting song-writing on the backburner to focus on performance. How did you plan on improving and what changes if any have you made?
The first thing I changed was I really started to focus on my health and I focused on getting my body strong. So, I was able to perform on stage the way that I want to and the way that I know that I can, if I put the hard work and focus into it. You can expect a very powerful vocal performance from me, my voice has never been stronger. It’s never been more on the ball that it is now, the rest of my body is very healthy and very strong so I’m able to move around much more on stage, be much more dynamic, spin in the air and jump around just be more energetic. I’m a thrill to watch and I can’t wait to show everybody what I can do.
M-R: How important are the VIP experiences for touring musicians such as yourself?
For me it’s perfect because I’ve always been nurturing the relationship with my audience and my fans for my entire personal career. For me it’s the continuation of something that I’ve always done, but at a higher level. My meet and greets are not just walking into a place and sitting at a table… you can take a picture, I’ll sign something, and you walk away… it’s not like that at all. We like to break down that fourth wall. I hang out with everybody, I talk to everybody, people ask me questions, I’ll sign anything that people have, I listen to everybody and their stories and we will just hang out! A lot of times we bring them backstage, they watch soundcheck and they’re made to feel very important like they’re supposed to be! So for me it’s perfect and it’s exciting to be the focus of it.
M-R: I read that you had experience in theatre as a kid, did that had any influence on you developing characters for your performances?
Sure! I’m a theatre kids so everything’s bigger on the emotional level, everything sadder everything’s much happier, so of course it affects me as a performer. People just don’t get to see my diva moments when I have them! And trust me I have them…hahaha
M-R: Tell me about being featured in films, are there any similarities between performing on set and on stage?
I’m much more confident on the stage! It’s almost the same, I mine the same bits of emotion that I use when I’m performing, but it’s much more difficult to act and to perform like that. Both are enjoyable, but it emanates from the same place. I haven’t had that much practice. But I hope that before my career is done, I’ll be able to really focus and show people what I can achieve in that discipline as well. I hope that I have that opportunity before I shift and go behind the camera which I am planning on doing as well.
M-R: You’ve utilised crowd-funding throughout your career, with Kickstarter funding several solo albums in the past, and currently with Patreon. How do you feel crowd-funding has evolved, and what do you see as its place in the music business today and in the future?
I think it’s huge, and again it’s perfect for an artist like me! I remember crowdfunding before there was even crowdfunding. The way that I paid for the Illusions album with Damien Echols, when I run and money for that I literally reached out to people through the internet for them to mail money in an envelope, send it to me so I can finish that record. So those platforms, I believe, not only are essential for independent artists but obviously highly effective and a wonderful way to capitalise your projects great and small. It’s just a matter of understanding and utilising them.
Plus, on the creative side it’s a wonderful thing to be able to have the authority over all things creative within your own team and yourself. There’s no reason to have anyone else telling you about it and it’s great to be able to have all those functions of a record company at your fingertips at your disposal. People ask if that cuts out the record companies both at mid and high levels? And no! I tell young artist, and it’s true for myself, the more successful that you can become, and the more value that you bring to yourself by being able to capitalise on projects and putting things out, when you get to a point that you’re going to be valuable to them and a bigger company. Isn’t that much better than just having four guys and a crappy bus that you’re driving around with? When now you have a functioning business that’s much more valuable and in-turn much more lucrative for independent artists and the organisations that they should be trying to build.
M-R: You have been called a pop-culture media thought leader, can you tell me your thoughts on that? What does it mean to you?
It’s funny, I keep hearing that. To me it’s standing up for what you believe is your worldview and standing up for and articulating my thoughts about pop culture, about current events, about history. Being truthful and courageous about who I am and giving the cover if you will, to other people that perhaps might feel the same, and open the door to the debate with other people that might disagree with my views. That’s what a leader is and that’s what a leader does.
M-R: With Blitzkrieg, the video for Angels raised funds for The Wounded Warrior. This Christmas you have two other charity gigs, including one for Dancing Horse Farm in Troy NY. Are the needs of veterans close to your heart? How did you get involved with the Dancing Horse Farm?
I’m from rural New York state and my youngest daughter was very interested in horseback riding, so, we reached out and found a place that offered to give my daughter lessons. It turned out when I was speaking to them, that she was trying to build a place of therapy to rehab horses, as well as to offer equine therapy to people that would need it. I’ve had a lifelong love of horses and I understand how impactful equine therapy is, especially the more studies that have been done about it. The way that returning veterans with PTSD respond to equine therapy and how profound their response is. So, my ultimate goal is to have a non-profit that offers equine therapy, music and art therapy to returned veterans with PTSD as well as developmentally disabled and challenged children, or adults, everybody across all spectrums of life. The opportunity to continue to build that is really wonderful.
M-R: You have penned some of the Misfits greatest hits, and are sighted as a lead songwriter of the outfit straight away, did that feel like added pressure to perform and did that help or hinder your creativity?
Oh, the pressure definitely made diamonds! Because The Misfits were put in that box of horror/rock, it forced me to be innovative and create in a way that perhaps had never been tried before. You had Marilyn Manson, Type O Negative, Trent Reznor, Rob Zombie and all these people at the time really hitting the ball hard, and here I come and I have to figure out how can I make this relevant? How could I take what Glenn Danzig has done and been doing and compete with that? So, I took elements of all those things and I really became to hone my skills to try and carve out my little niche in this horror music entertainment genre that was looking to make The Misfits the corner post of it.
Interview Date: 2018-12-04
Interviewer: Jonathan Hurley