Mike Reeb

12 Dec

“I feel that I have something to offer to the world as a song-writer and musician.”

There are certain albums you reach for in hard times. Albums that will turn your mood around and make you feel less likely to breakdown. One of the albums that do that for me is Breaking by Mike Reeb. His songwriting is so extremely truthful and he displays his heart on his sleeve for the listener. Currently living in Lafayette, Indiana, Mike continues on with his passion for music, but it’s not the only important thing in his life. His marriage comes at the top of his list and will always remain to be the most important. Mike Reeb continues to receive more and more positive reviews comparing him to such greats as Bruce Springteen and Bob Dylan. I recently interviewed the talented artist and was able to find out more about this fascinating singer-songwriter.

Q. You’re originally from Chicago, IL, but currently living in Lafayette, Indiana. What was your motivation in moving from such a big city to a smaller more remote one? Did it have any impact on your music?

A. My wife and I moved back to Lafayette from Chicago for many reasons, but we explain it to friends as the Curse of the Wabash and they know exactly what we mean by it. We moved from Lafayette to Chicago about four years ago. After three months, we realized that the move was a mistake. We missed the Lafayette community, our friends, and the cost-of-living. Now that we’re back in town, we don’t plan on moving. Why would we? Lafayette has everything we want! To be honest, the move to Lafayette has made an incredibly positive impact on my music. For one, the cost of living is less in Lafayette, so my wife and I own a house instead of renting an apartment. Our basement is my recording studio, so I’ve never had to pay for studio space. The best part is that I don’t share any walls with noisy neighbors. It’s great! Also, I can play shows in Chicago anytime because it’s just a two hour drive or three hour Amtrak trip. And because I’m now just an hour from Indianapolis, I’ve been able to play down there more often. Within the last year, I’ve played a few in-store performances at Indy CD & Vinyl and the Melody Inn.

Q. How did you get started in music? What were some of the deciding factors in wanting to be a musician?

A. My love of music started as a kid. My mom says I was always banging pots and pans to the radio at an early age. I also remember dancing to Michael Jackson’s Thriller all the time with my brothers and sister. As a side-note, what an amazing album! Take an afternoon and listen to [Michael Jackson’s] Off the Wall in its entirety. For the most part, a solid album, but then listen to the first track from Thriller, Wanna Be Starting Something. It’ll blow your mind! On that track, you hear Michael Jackson find himself. The instrumentation, his voice, the arrangement, all incredible! From Off the Wall to Thriller, Michael Jackson became Michael Jackson, if that makes sense. I began studying music at age 10, as a percussionist. At age 15, I started playing guitar on my own time. By age 16, I was writing original songs and singing out. Since that time, I’ve continued playing songs and writing music because it comes naturally to me. It’s something I enjoy, and I feel that I have something to offer to the world as a song-writer and musician.

Q. Looking on the internet for more information on your career, I came across a raving review from someone at the Chicago Tribune. How does it feel receiving such honorable mention about your music?

A. Positive reviews from critics and fans mean the world to me! Like any musician who records original music, it’s a process that is difficult, fun, frustrating, amazing, and terrible all at the same time. So, once a project or album is complete, you need someone else to let you know whether or not it has merit. I’m so thankful that others appreciate what I do musically.

Q. Your most recent album, Breaking, is centered around many things, but the main theme seems to be heartbreak. When writing this album, what sorts of things were you going through in life?

A. I wrote Keep Me Close and The City while living in Chicago without my wife. She had moved down to Lafayette to take a job, so I was in Chicago alone. It sucked. “It’s Been A Real Hard Year” and “What Are You Fighting For?” were written back in 2006 as a response to the Iraq war. Those four songs are definitely dealing with personal loss and the government breaking your heart. In regards to the other songs, I guess I just write sad songs. It’s easier for me to write a song about something that isn’t right in my life, my community, or our society. I’ve tried writing cheerful songs before, and I’ve never liked the end result. However, I’m not a sad person. I just find sad songs a lot more interesting than happy songs. Some of my favorite albums of all time reflect that, too. Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs, The Pixies’ Surfer Rosa, The National’s High Violet, Pedro the Lion’s Control. Yeah, I’ve dealt with death and pain, and some of those topics come through in my music. But I don’t live in a state of heartbreak. I just write songs. If you ask a friend of mine, I think they’d describe me as a positive and upbeat person. I have a lot of joy and lot to be thankful for.

Q. What are a few of your main goals on this journey to being a successful musician?

A. I don’t write, record, or perform music today to ‘make it’ or ‘hit it big.’ I just want my music to mean something to those who listen… today or 20 years from now. Success is in the eye of the beholder. Based on my personal goals, I’m satisfied. I’ve performed live at some of my favorite venues in the Midwest, I’ve opened for amazing musicians like Alejandro Escovedo and Pete Krebs, and I have the freedom to do whatever I want as a musician.

Q. In your opinion, who do you feel is the artist with the strongest lyrical content?

A. David Bazan, hands down.

Q. Do you feel that since you first started with your music, that it’s changed over the years or do you think you’ve stuck to your original plan?

A. Since I’ve changed over the years as a person, my musical ‘plan’ has changed as well. Music used to be one of the most important things in my life. Today, music takes a back seat to my wife, my job, my friends, and even spending an afternoon with my dog in the park.

Q. If you were stranded on an island and could only bring one of your songs to listen to, which one would it be and why?

A. I would first ask if I could trade one of my songs for a song by someone else. If allowed, I’d bring I Love You More Than Words Can Say by Otis Redding. Otis Redding’s voice is unmatched, and he sings with a passion I
can only hope to sing with.

Here is one of my favorites “Like a Wing” from the album, Breaking. Download the complete album for free here.

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