On Point With: Mike Greco

It’s hard to find a bona fide rock-n-roller in the music scene where pop and dance have dominated the culture for decades, but this charmer is making himself known in gigs all over the city–including a big one at Le Poisson Rouge on Friday night. Give it up for Mike Greco!

Thotyssey: Hey Mike, thanks for talking to us! How are you doing?

Mike Greco: I’m doing really well …and thank you!

You must be excited for your big show this week!

So excited! Really looking forward to getting back in gear with the whole band and playing at Le Poisson Rouge, it’s such a great space.

What’s your process of picking songs for each set?

The set kind of evolves itself in a way. For the last few shows, we’ve been performing all the songs from my recently released EP, No Rules About It. After you throw those tunes in the mix, it’s a matter of how much time is left, what new songs I wanna try out, and what we think will lift the audiences overall energy.

For this particular concert series “Friday’s Friends”, I’ve been having special guests join to perform classic covers that we know everyone will enjoy. That’s been really fun to piece together! I for one love putting a cover song or two in a set.  It usually resonates well and refocuses the room…  People love familiarity!

I’ll get back to the whole concert series first, but let’s get some background on you! Where’s your hometown?

Well I’m from Valley Stream, Long Island, and moved to Manhattan in the summer of 2008.

I saw a cute video of you harmonizing the Doobie Brothers with your family. Are you all musical?

[Laughs] Oh yeah! Well, I was lucky enough to have a lot of musicians in my life. Both my father and uncle were in many bands; they also sing, play and write original material. My mother’s father headed a big band and played banjo, bass, and guitar. I really credit everything I do musically to the three of them.

As far as my generation goes, my cousin Nick plays guitar, violin and sings. His sisters also dabble in singing from time to time.  We really have always been a very musical family, especially throughout the holidays and such.

Here comes a “kids these days” question! Kids these days don’t seem to be drawn to rock music, particularly classic rock, in a major way. Does this ever frustrate you?

Hmmm… well let me open that statement up a little bit by saying that “kids these days”, musically speaking, aren’t really drawn to very much from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. I’m not here to ever judge people on what they like listening to now, so definitely not frustrated.

However, I’ve come to learn that it’s usually a lack of exposure and knowledge of music in the past. I always say that new artists today are either directly or indirectly influenced by what I call the “golden age of popular music,” 1960’s – 1980’s.  Personally, I’ve always been a researcher. I find interest in times past, culturally and musically. It’s fun to see where things came from, and if we as a society are repeating ourselves in some form.

So I really applied that thought process to music when growing up. I wanted to know why music evolved into what I was currently listening to on the radio.  With the help of my parents and other people, I was kind of in a musical time machine my entire childhood.  Which I’m very thankful for now.

That’s wonderful! Do you remember when you wrote your first song?

Yeah, actually! The first song I ever attempted writing was for my elementary schools PTA program called “Reflections.” They would give a loose theme for all artists to create around.  I remember the first theme was “suddenly you turn around and what do you see?”

Cute! At what point did you find yourself with enough material to start recording and performing with full sets?

Well to be honest, I focused a large part of my earlier music endeavors on being a session and touring musician for other artists. Which I still love doing. A lot of tribute bands, and things of that nature.

However, I would always write original material at home for myself, and had a growing collection of songs. I just never really prioritized doing anything involving original music until last year. People started to ask me on a pretty consistent basis if I had anything of my own recorded etc, and I had nothing to show them! So I decided after a while it was time to gather up enough songs for an EP and start this journey.

When you referred to “cover bands” you worked with, are you referring to your work with MaryAnne Piccolo and Damn the Light Productions?

Yes, among some other outside projects!  Damn The Light Productions is our baby, though.  We’ve curated and built everything ourselves, in addition to our third partner Steven Moore. We have some very exciting tribute shows ready for release and regional touring. Can’t wait for that!

Werk! Tell me about what the recording process is like for you: thrilling, intimidating, tedious?

Well, recording for me is all three of those things. Depends on the day! I was fortunate enough to have an amazingly talented friend Matt Katz-Bohen produce my EP, as well as co-write some songs with me. He really makes the recording process relaxing and fun. He currently is touring with Blondie who is releasing a new record, Pollinator, May 5th!

Also, engineer and overall musical wizard Jamie Siegel of JRock Studios in Soho made everything much less stressful. When I think of people who I always want in a room while creating and recording, it’s those two guys!

Give us rundown of where we can get your available music right now.

Currently, my EP No Rules About It is available on all platforms: iTunes, Spotify and Amazon music.  Working on releasing a single and music video over the summer!  So I’m very excited to start on that!

We’ll look out for that! So, a lot is going on now in the world and certainly this country… does politics influence your songwriting at all, do you think?

Well, I do believe an artist’s job is to create music that will have an effect on people somehow, and of course political activism has been seen throughout music history.  For me, I have written unreleased things (for now) involving politics. I just don’t see it as being a trend in popular music as it once was in the 60’s and 70’s. Sadly, people really haven’t wanted to hear songs that talk about political issues until very recently. I really hope the music industry and labels start to become more open to popularizing songs with a real message regarding political and social injustices once again. They control what the public learns to love.

It’s true, there seems to be a disconnect now between lyrical content and popular music, in general.

Definitely a disconnect, but like I said hopefully things change in that regard!

Tell me about this concert series “Friday’s Friends” that you’ve been a part of this past year or so, mostly at the East Village club Berlin, where you’re onstage with many different performers. How did this all come about?

“Friday’s Friends” really came to me as an idea to get out there with a smaller version of my band, and involve other artists who I love. We also wanted a residency to stretch out and let loose playing this new material. So I’m thankful to Berlin for allowing that to happen. As I mentioned before, I love doing a cover song or two, so the idea of bringing talented friends on stage was a no brainer. I really wanted to make this concert series less about me, and more about the downtown music scene and family that we have here in NYC.

For this final show we have two very special people joining the band and I. Randy Jones of The Village People, and Michael T of The Vanities. I can’t wait to share the stage with these two, I really love them as artists and most importantly as people!

Amazing lineup! And for this final show, you’ll be taking the action to Le Poisson Rouge.

Yes! For the finale, we decided to do a bigger event. We will also have two amazing openers, The Worst Humans and Sophia Urista. Lots of music and lots of fun!

Yessss! What’s on the agenda down the road?

Well, I’ll be going back into the studio to record a new single, then working on a music video. No shows on the horizon yet, but once summer hits we will be back on stage with new material!

Werq! Okay, so in closing… I ran into you at Boots & Saddle karaoke a few weeks ago! What is the best karaoke to song, and what is the absolute worst!

Yes, haha! That was quite the night. Only my second time there!  I’m not always a big karaoke fan, but if I had to sing something I always go for “Natural Woman” by Aretha Franklin.   I think the worst song for anyone to sing is “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey (although I do love the song and the band itself).

Have a good show on Friday, Mike!

Mike Greco performs at the “Friday’s Friends” finale at Le Poisson Rouge on Friday, March 31st (8:30pm). He can be followed on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. Also, check out his website.

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