An Interview with
Drummer of Hurricane
that took place in The Rainbow Bar & Grille, West Hollywood, California
on Thursday, 3rd May 2012. Interview by Glenn Milligan
Glenn: We'll start right at the beginning.
Glenn: So you were born in Chicago, how did Chicago set you up with an interest in music in general?
Mike: Ahh well, Chicago being the home of the Blues and basically my Father was a player as well so he got me into this business at an early age, starting at 5 and then performing at 11. So I came from playing all the big clubs downtown and then migrated out of Chicago and launched myself from there to Las Vegas after that when I was about 18.
Glenn: Cool. Why drums?
Mike: Drums because my Father would never let me play guitar. I asked him to teach me how to play guitar and he said, "No you're gonna be a drummer", now I know why because he wanted to hire me to be his drummer. So I get it. So he was a smart dad you know?
Mike: So that's how I fell into the drum thing but I liked it and because it's a natural thing for me. He really just guided me and set me up in the right direction just because of him having so much experience and I tell you he wasn't easy on my that's for sure. But he got me started and like I said at 11 he got me playing professional and making an income. So it's funny how that happened but yeah, he's the reason why because I wanted to play guitar and he said "No".
Glenn: So what was your first kit?
Mike: My first drum set was a Stuart drumset with a black chip Pearl finish on it. It was about a $400 drum set and I had that for about six or seven years and saved all my money from playing gigs, 6 nights a week, 5 nights a week, 3 nights a week, 2 and saved up about three grand and then I bought my Rogers kit from there but that was my first kit, you know, with some Zildjan cymbals.
Glenn: Can you remember where you bought it from?
Mike: Yeah a store called Roselle Music in Roselle is where I bought the drumset from - I totally remember. It was like my home away from home that place. That music store was the best music store and they always treated me like family, loved to see me, I could get behind a kit all the time and jam and a lot of the people that worked there, when the patrons came in were, "Hey Mike sit down play you little b*tch, show me what you got", and that was so young so that's what people got off on I guess because... you know, they don't give a sh*t anymore but they did then.
Glenn: Yeah, is it still there?
Mike: Oh Roselle Music is still existing man. They had two stores but back down to one now but yeah they are in Roselle, Illinois is where it's actually at.
Glenn: Cool. What about your first band when you started playing when you were about 11, what band was that? Were you playing with your Dad?
Mike: Yeah, when I started playing pro at 11, my first staged performance was with Johnny Cash's cousin. Mind you, I was playing Country Music for 10 years. So when I was like 7 years old, 8 years old then I was playing that and by the time I was 11 being pro I was really schooled on the 50's Rock 'N' Roll and Country 'N' Western - not Country like new Country - it was Country and Western. What my dad did because he was with Bowa Manadrall, he got me the gig with for Roy Clarke and I was on that TV show, 'Heehaw' and I know a lot of people know that show and some people don't but Roy Clark was probably one of the best guitar players in the world and he took me under his wing and I was actually a little prodigy drummer on that show playing with like Chet Atkins, Roy Buchannon, Rory Gallagher.
Mike: I played with Albert Lee. I actually had the honours to play with 'The Texas Playboys' which was Ernest Tubb's band and all those guys you know?
Mike: So I can go on but if you ever watch that show or research that show, anybody that was anybody from Dolly Parton, I played with them all. 'Heehaw' was like an afternoon show, like a family show that was like in evenings. I was growing up in the 70's and it was very famous actually. It just didn't go everywhere but if you were from the States, the United States, it was all across the States - not in the UK or anything like that but it was big man. But anybody who was anybody played on that show and that was... I mean, Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings - I played with 'em all and I was 11. So it was really crazy man.
Glenn: And there's not many people can say that can they?
Mike: I don't think so. The funny part is, this is the ironic part Glenn, is that I was behind a curtain. They used to put this curtain up, this sheet if you watch the show and it was like a silhouette of each of the band members and you could have been a mouse and you looked like a giant. I think it was just smart I guess because if they ever had member replacement, you'd never really know. So they kinda kept it kinda like that. It was kind of interesting marketing the way they did it - they didn't let the band be seen. But when they shine that light on that sheet and the sheet would silhouette in black it was trippy. I did that every Summer for about three years because, you know, I went to school because I was a kid still but my Summer months, that's what I did. Now I was bringing home really good money man. I was pulling 8 to a $1000 dollars a week back in the 70's. I was doing well. Probably better than now.
Glenn: You must have some incredible stories being around and hanging out with some of these people. Are there any that you can bring to light that you're allowed to talk about?
Mike: Well, you know, I think I was that young I was so saturated. I just had so much going on and I think at that age I forget a lot of things but you know I had some good things said to me and I had some bad things said to me. I had a drummer once tell me, it was Gene Cash's drummer and I wanted to do that triplet thing that drummers do and I asked the guy, "Hey man, how do you do that?", he goes, "You know what?", he goes, "Figure it out". He just wouldn't tell me how to do it and it's funny how when you're a kid you won't forget things like that - have somebody talking to you like that.
Then I had two people tell me when I was a kid, this is all the negative side of things and I'll get to the positive in a minute but the two negative things I had my Dad, he say's "Hey, you know, I got these lessons for you", so I went and took these lessons and the guy kinda looked like a Sonny Bono from Sonny and Cher. I took like five lessons from this guy and I was already playing dude, I was already like doing my thing but I was trying to get more educated and you know, expand my horizons.
He goes to me, my Dad goes, I got some good news and bad news, "The good news is that you did your lessons - that's great", and we're in the car and I got some bad news and I go, "What's that?", he goes, "This teacher doesn't want to teach you anymore", and I go, "Why?", he goes, "Because he thinks you are ruined as a drummer!". I had that happen twice to me. One of my 7th Grade music teachers told me that drummers like me came dime a dozen and that my Father ruined me as a drummer. Well that almost got me kicked out of school because I remember punching that teacher out for saying that. I was in 7th grade and knocked the guy stone cold out for saying some bad things about my parents more than me right? I had a couple of people say that but hey I'm here today man! You know, I got Platinum Records, I got my Gold Record.
Glenn: What have they got?
Mike: Well they're dead.
Mike: So that's the negative thing. The positive thing was that a lot of friends of mine were supportive and a lot of great musicians like Waylon and Merle Haggard and George Jones and Dolly Parton and Sedgerino. All this came up and it was tripped out that I was so young and had so much retention and so much music at that time of my life and that's kinda where it went at tha time but when I hit about 19 years old I got the suit. I was playing R'N'B. I went from Country to R'N'B and I was playing with The Pointer Sisters at that time and we're doing an opposite show and I had the honour to sit how you and I are right now (facing each other) with Sammy Davis Jnr and Sammy sat me down and he was just.. you know, he gave me words of wisdom and I don't remember everything but he would just sit with me and talk with me like he was my Uncle or my Father and he was just trying... he told me once, he goes, "I'm gonna tell you something, never change the way you are because you're a good man", and I've always remembered that line from Sammy Davis Jnr and that's it. So that was kinda neat. That was probably one of the most nostalgic things that happened and he's a Rat Pack man. So that to me was pretty heavy.
Glenn: Yeah he's one of those guys that what he doesn't know isn't worth knowing you know?
Mike: Wow. He was amazing that guy. I mean how many people can say that they say with Sammy Davis Jnr and tell 'em.. you know, yeah a kid at my age the facts of life.
Glenn: I know. It's mindblowing when you think about it and you'd send yourself insane tryna like understand why and what you've done in life. Sometimes I look back and think god I hung out with this person and that person but some things are meant to be.
Mike: Yeah man it's always great.
Glenn: You had your chance.
Mike: Yeah and you know what, I didn't expect that. I wasn't like even thinking about that. We just sat down and here we are and one night became 2 nights and 2 nights became 3 nights and before I know it this guy sits down with me every night talking to me before his show. He was talking to me about when being a celebrity as high as he is and having to walk in the back door because he's black, you know back in the 50's you know? It's just crazy stuff. It's like how can you be a celebrity but then told to walk through the back door. You know, I just never understood that.
Glenn: It's wrong isn't it?
Glenn: That was the time. What got you to playing in club bands and the national bands?
Mike: It was opportunity. When you're playing clubs, but I have to say my dad was a helpful guy and got me to the right people quickly which sources everything right but when I was playing gigs in town when I wasn't doing the tv shows, it was just like playing in club bands whether it be my dad or whoever it was. You know man, you just run into people and they come out and see you and the word gets out. It's like that in every town. You know what I mean? Some times are better than others, some are bigger than others and you have more opportunity in others. That's how it happened for me. It's a word of mouth thing and that's kind of how I got into the national thing and then..
Mind you I still do club things, I'll still play a local tavern or pub because why? because I want to, not because I have to. So I dig it and when I go out and do the serious stuff playing national then I do the national now. But that's how I did it. You gotta start somewhere. I started.. I mean I'm probably an exception to some people because I started so early and I had a dad who was already in the business who got me goin' who helped me and nurture me into that situation. You know those that don't have that, it's a tougher. But you still gotta prove yourself. It doesn't matter if you're bad or not, maybe today - but then, you better know your instrument. Today, I don't think so, there's more computer knowledge now. You can be lazy on your instrument and all the computer knowledge changes you into a new person now with your technology. Back then it was about hours on an instrument.
Glenn: It mist have been a big decision from working with all these different types of people to just working with one band or are you still doing stuff outside that while in the band?
Mike: All of us did. All of the band would alsways do other things to break up the monotony of being togethether as well as just being offered other things when the time was right and it didn't interfere with what we needed to do as well a now. Everybody's got their own perogative and nobody gets weird about it as long as the schedules that meet the band. You know, if we have commitements, we have to honour those commitments and everything aroud that - it's game. We're just all trying to survive in this world. It's not a bad thing, it's a positive thing because it's more exposure and more marketing and we do it because we wanna do it too but most of all when you're doing other things, if it makes people go 'wow' ok, you're doing this, or doing that , that's cool stuff to be able to not just be into one thing and just leave it like that. A true musician likes to play more than one thing. I think so, you know?
Glenn: Yeah, Yeah.
Mike: As much as you don't want to.
Glenn: Plus it would get boring otherwise wouldn't it?
Mike: Oh absolutely. It's the same stuff over and over.
Glenn: When your on tour with a band you gotta do that but you don't wanna be doing that 24/7 do you?
Mike: Well like now I'm doing the thing with Ike Willis from (Frank) Zappa's band. Ike was in Zappas band for 25 years. he auditioned Steve Vai for that band. There's guys that couldn't even make the band within three notes in that band because Ike was basically Frank Zappa's main man. Well he's got a band called Zappanella and that band I'm gonna be going out with here in the next month or so and I'm going out with Bobby and Albert who are the keyboard player and Albert is the Sax player which were the original members of Zappa and we're gonna go to Japan and do our thing. So I'm going from, you know, Hurricane to Zappa, so it's like.. You know people need to know that. A lot of people think that when they hear you in certain situation of success, they think that's all you know sometimes. Well it's not true and that's why I do it too because people get to see another side of me - plus a different audience. So it's kinda neat you know, but I like to have the diversity. It keeps me healthy, it keeps me alive and keeps you fresh and makes me wanna play - not hit my instrument.
Glenn: And I guess it's just as well because you've got different styles of music, you can draw fans. Maybe the Frank Zappa fans will check out you out when you are with Hurricane and the Hurricane fans may well check you out when you are playing with the Zappa guys?
Mike: Right. That's how it happens and everybody kinda links off each others people and those are true music appreciators and fans. There's the "I only wanna change him in the rock, why's he playing that?" (fans). No man, that's not the way it goes.
Glenn: Yeah it's stupid. You do it because you like doing it - what's it matter?
Glenn: So how did it come about being in Hurricane and how long have you been in the band?
Mike: We didn't really touch base 'til 2011 so this is a brand new thing. We've got a little bit of proving to do right now. Just because of the fact of Robert Sarzo and Tony Cavazo are the original members. Now I've know Robert for 20 years though. Tony, I'd never met until a few years ago which is interesting but I knew his brother Carlos Cavazo from Quiet Riot. But Robert and I used to share a lockout back in the day in Hollywood man, 20 years ago you know and he'd just got out of Hurricane himself because they had some indifferences so there was a weird thing that went down. Then Doug Aldrich came in and took his place. Robert and I ran into each other a couple of years ago. I was doing a Jazz gig. This was going back to what you were saying about playing different things right?
Mike: He's in the audience and it was "Robert?", "Mike?", "Dude what's up?", he goes, "Dude man, I lost touch with you...blah, blah, blah - Dude I'm thinking of getting Hurrican back together again", I said, "Dude, I'm there if you want, you know, I'll play", he goes "Well I was just gonna ask you that, Would you be interested in doing it?". That's how this happened. They go, "Well we don't have a singer", I says, "I have a singer ", so I was the one who got Andrew Freeman who was with The Offspring to sing. I said, "This guy is like Ronnie James Dio all over dude. This guy is heavy". I said, "Dude we got this jam coming on next Thursday, why don't you come down Robert? I'll invite Andrew down". So I called Andrew, told him what was up, I said "Look bud, you got an opportunity here to be involved in this project that I'm already doing - it's a couple of weeks old though but we have a relationship". He was like "OK, cool". So he came down. Dude we ended up jamming together and now this is where we're at. We are writing a new record, we are the band and that's where Hurricane is. There's no animosity whatsoever between Kelly and Jay. They've got their own projects. They've got their own outline in their life. It's not like they were never asked - they were asked originally and they passed so I wanna get that story straight.
Glenn: That's cool.
Mike: So that's what happened. The band just didn't like put a band together and never called two members of the band. Everybody was well informed and everybody was well happy with what they were doing.
Glenn: And I mean, Kelly's still busy with Foreigner isn't he?
Mike: Oh yeah - that's his gig. That's what he does and as a matter of fact I saw him at the NAMM show and he did nothing but wish us all the best of luck. Those were right out of his mouth, "I wish you guys the best of luck!" That's cool and the ironic thing is we're both Hansens and everybody thinks I am his brother. Everybody makes this mistake - all tabloids. I am diggin' it and it's a great thing because you know what, good news, bad news, any news is all good news right?
Mike: And as long as they're talking about you. It builds a pipe. A Hansen's gone and a Hansen came. It's kinda funny. It's like the Hansen (sic - Hanson) band.
Glenn: Yeah I was thinking of 'MMMM Bop'.
Mike: Yeah him and I are the black sheep of that family. It's kind of funny though. But a lot of my interviews, I get questioned that all the time. In fact the drummer from Y&T, Mike Vanderhuel - we're good buddies and I've known him for a little bit now and I was at his show last week at The Canyon - 2 weeks agao - Friday and he says, "Hey Man, there's some people who wanna meet you and they are Hurricane fans". I'm like, "OK, cool", he goes, "Dude, I told them you were like Kelly's brother right?". I go, "Dude, before we got out there, he ain't my brother", he's like, " Really - that's what everybody's telling me!". I'm like.. dude this guy'slike my associate drummer friend and I'm laughing my ass off. I guess that's my claim to fame now. This is killing me.
Glenn: That's funny.
Mike: Oh it's smokin' dude. (We laugh) . I think it's clever. I think it's like when everybody thinks that - it's just ironic.
Glenn: It is very.
Mike: And our names are spelt the same way. Maybe that's why nobody talks about me as much as the singer situation but obviously we know that the singer position is but obviously we know that the singer position, in respect of whoever they are in the apple cart is probably the worst position to be in - more than a drummer.
Glenn: All the eyes are on you.
Mike: Oh my god dude - you're the voice and Andrew is bringing his game and I;ll tell you what man, you're gonna be shocked when you hear how good this guy is. The guys actually singing in 'Last In Line' right now as his other project with Vivian Campbell, Vinnie Appice..
Glenn: A Dio thing?
I know everybody's chapping a little bit on that but I'm friends with
all of these guys and they're doing what they're doing - whatever. It
is what it is. They're trying to just make the fans happy but Andrew
being asked to that and Viviens quotes were, "That this guy is
with all means bringing it to the party", being that, it's a big
term to say but he's doing as good as Ronnie like that. That's how good
they feel about him as a singer. So I'm just letting you know, letting
the fans know that there's nothing to be worried about for Hurricane.
If anything I think the band is gonna be more powerful than it was before.
It's different of course and we are not trying to be like the old band
at all and I'd like to set that record. We are the new Hurricane and
that's what we are doing. We are not trying to... we are playing the
old songs because fans want them but we are not trying to like even
make the new record sound like that at all.
Mike: You've gotta change. Even haircuts gotta change, you know, look at Bon Jovi - they're smart. They changed towards the right direction and look where they are - they are on top. They're not trying to be young again. They're not trying to keep that image. They are changing with the times too. Hurricane's changing with the times. The album's taking a little long to get out right now but, you know, we're being very critical on what we are putting out for this album from 22 years from when they did the last record. That's a long time.
Glenn: It is yeah. Yeah I remember Hurricane when they brought out the 'Over The Edge' album.
It's like that guy was saying out there man (at the long bar).
He remembered the songs but he couldn't see the band but when he heard
the songs he was like, "Wow I didn't know they were playing".
It's like it's pretty cool. The buzz is getting out. But it's gonna
take this album to really set the marketing record for the band. Just
to go out and play, I mean we've been playin'. We've been playing for
a year and a half now together, believe it or not.
Mike: 2011. Well that was our goal. Between everybody's busy schedules because we all have families now, financially set back where we are doing the album ourselves, we're paying for everything. We do have some interest - Bob Ezrin is a very good friend of mine as well as did one of the older records for the band but I like old Bob. I called Bob and said, "Guess who's in Hurricane" and I go "Me" and he goes, "That's f*ck*n' crazy", that's what he said to me. He goes, "Send me some songs when you get ready to go. I'd love to take a listen to what you guys are doing". That's Bob Ezrin. Now he's doing the new Deep Purple record. Brand new, I just got that information like about a week ago.
Glenn: George Clinton - how did that come about working with him?
Mike: This is going back to when I was like right after The Pointer Sisters era when I was playing with that "Nutron Dance", "I'm So Excited", "Beverly Hills Cop", you know, Eddie Murphy - all the drumming on there, all those songs - that's me playing.
Mike: We're going back there. That's when I was in the band, like kind of the middle 80's is when I was doing that. My buddy lived out here in Los Angeles, I was still in Las Vegas. He invited me to come out to LA andI started doing studio work out here. This is how this happened. I said, "Ok Cool", so I started doing it. So that turned in because I got tired of making the drive all the time so I wanted to end my Las Vegas stint. i did everything you could do in that town. I was a kid in the candy store and I was going in that town three and a half years. I took it to the top. I played Ceasers Palace Showrooms - the whole thing - big shows - all that stuff. So I started working with 'Digital Underground' - 'The Humpty Dance' - all that stuff, 'Cha Chi'. Well these are all the brothers in the hood, you know, so I was going to Rosecrans Avenue which is totally like Compton which is basically where I was at if you want me to tell you the truth. This is the nicer word. So I was like 'The black guy in the white suit' they used to call me because I'm more of a funky player like a black guy and not like a white guy. So George Clinton was there one time and Parliament and we ended up playing on a record together and that's how I got to meet George Clinton through doing that but I was playing with 'Digital' then at that time and Curtis Blow. So I'm doing all that and we're talking like the Grandfather of rap right there. So I did rap for about four years - then I fell into the Heavy Metal so it's kinda rad. I've been through a journey.
Glenn: Just a bit musicians got into the blues and the country but never go into the others.
Mike: It's Extreme.
Glenn: Yeah very.
Mike: And I've always wanted to play Heavy Metal. Even when I was playing with The Pointer Sisters in Vegas. I'd go "Man", I used to hang out in the local rock clubs there thinking, 'I wanna play the heavy stuff' and here I am.
Glenn: Yeah that's cool man. What went through your mind, thinking like, how are people canna recieve this? Wa it a bit like will they like us, will they take to us or will they just think different about it? What's your thought of that?
Mike: You know, we got in a room together and we weren't even thinking like that. We were just talking about putting the band back together and obviously we had a starter kick because of the older material. So first of all we wanted to get that under our belts, so believe it or not, we are a very, very well rehearsed band. We spent probably eight months just rehearsing and not every band does that. A lot of them will throw and go. They'll put their old band back together, member changes and then they'll go out and they'll play 'Slop Rock' I call it, you know in two minutes just to go make the buck. We weren't about the buck. we weren't about the ballad. We were about 'let's get our chemistry together', let's see if we have a chemistry. So we sat in a room, you know the chemistry thing comes quick because you know if you can play together. That was amazing. The second thing was we started getting into the songs. We actually had re-written some of the old songs in a more current style which is very interesting that.. you have to see the live show to see it. We've taken a few songs and totally just.. just bent them around and made 'em, made 'em better, you know, for what we're doing. The fans say that too when they see the show. They're like, "Oh my god, I never heard it that way, you know, it sounds so good". Tony and Robert told me and Andrew that, " You know, we've always wanted to have a band like this. Now this is more like Motley Crue. You know what, we were a good band back then, I don't take that back, we did what we did for the moment - that was it. But we were a little bit too happy.
We always wanted to be a heavier band but for some reason, record labels, the producers pushed us this way and that's what we became." That's what happened to Hurricane back then. Now Robert and Tony both say, "This is what we've always wanted and this is where we are at now - it's heavy". I play more like Tommy - I'm thicker and Andrews got that thick voice, you know, heavy like Dio so we're a lot darker band - a lot heavier now. So that's kinda what happened and we were excited about that so you know, we got really tight before we go out. We knew we had to put this record out but the record is... we wanted to get to be a good band first and play the old sh*t as a unit so we sounded like a band. Not like a bunch of studio guys just puking on a record. So we knew that the investment was gonna be a lot longer ride. So that's where we are at right now Glenn. We're at a level now where we are at that level now and we are now writing the record and it's gonna kick your *ss. I'm not saying that because I beleive in the band, I'm saying that because we're being critical and making sure that that's what we give our fans. Because we all have history from other bands. We all have history with everything. We're all from different things. I mean, you got a guy from Offspring, you've got me from George Lynch and Steve Vai and then all that other bullsh*t, you know, but I'm just saying. We are like family. When you watch us on stage, we are like watching Aerosmith, we are family when we play. It doesn't look like Robert and Tony meets Mike & Andrew like some of these band. It's gonna be swell, we're choking on stage, we're picking each other up. We're like a real band - we love each other dude. We're like best friends. We're all like really into each other. It's not a corporate bullsh*t game. We're like a real band.
Glenn: That's how it should be everytime.
Mike: yeah but it's not and you know that. You know, there's one guy who runs the band and there's all these other guys in there that will just get a checque cut. This band - everybody takes a load in this band. I handle a lot of the merchandising in the band. I have a lot of connections for the band but we all feed in there. We all book gigs. We all sign contracts so whoever's in charge of getting that gig is the go to guy. So it's not like o]ne guy doing all the work. I just wanna let you know that - we're a thorough team is the word I was looking for.
Glenn: It must be so stressful to deal with everything on your plate at the same time.
Mike: Yeah man, it's cool. We're all taking it man. We're all doing it together. Not one guy is doing more than the other and you can't find that. It's hard to find that.
Glenn: It's very rare that.
Mike: Yeah it's very. I don't know if it's old school or because you guys do it the way I'm saying it too where it's one guy or this - we're just being a real unit. I think it's important if you want something to survive.
Glenn: A lot of the fans will be wanting to know about the new material. What songs will we hear when the album is eventually out. What's your favourite songs on the album and what influenced them?
Mike: Well it's funny, Andrew comes from the Offspring vibe so with him and Robert, with Robert being more the 80's kind of player - the Randy Rhoads, may I call it, which ofm course he took Randy's place with Ozzy for a short time after Randy had passed right?
Glenn: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Mike: Well those two guys, the collaboration is really neat because Andrew is very current like Disturbed, Offspring, you know, like all the current bands. He's got that fresh style to his but mind you, he's a guitar player, not just a singer. Now Kelly Hansen was just a singer. This guy can play a guitar like a real guitar player. He doesn't just ling-a-ding-a-dinger, I mean this guy plays the guitar like a real lead player. So we got two guitar players in the band now. So that's the other reason why it's a beefed up project. So what we did was, he brought a couple of ideas in that he has written in the past. Robert and Tony have ideas and I have ideas. This is another reason why it's taken a long time. It's not like the one guy coming in with a polished turd and saying, "Okay, here's the song - everybody play their parts. I've written 'em for you." No - we come in with ideas like portional ideas. We sit in a room like 5 to 10 hours a day and we write the song in the room together as a team. I mean yes - one guy comes in with the idea of something, a melody or something - ok that's normal but not one guy coming in and saying, "That we're playing A song, B song, C song".
We've actually constructed all these songs together as a team with hours of just spending time together. That's how we've developed these songs. We're tuned down so we're a lot heavier sounding. It's not tuned down because the guy can't sing the notes. Andrew can hit all those notes from the 80's that Kelly did and then some. He's very strong man. Look out cause this guys gonna kick some *ss out there man - he's gonna you know? Some people have said some stupid sh*t, you know, we just brush sh*t up because you know what dude, once the album's out it'll let people know that we're serious and that we are the new band and what it is and they're gonna go.. I mean, we're gonna lose some fans but we're also gonna gain some fans so I'm not worried about that. There's always those people that just stay firm on what they believe in and that's ok because we're gonna play those songs too anyway. If always everybody wants to see the orginal, original thing then that's just the way the world goes on. Oh man, like Van Halen - all these bands have replacement factors. I mean Judas Priest? Look at all these bands right?
Glenn: Yeah, yeah.
Mike: They still pack arenas so whatever.
Glenn: It gives the newer guys a nice springvault. Like when they are no longer in the band they a whole new set of fans. Like Tim 'Ripper' Owens for a start.
Mike: He's great.
Glenn: From being with Priest he's now gone into Yngwie's band.
Mike: It's put him into a really heavy drivers seat. Anyway, we wanna write a really heavy record, a thick record. We want the music to be bumping and grinding. Get the people to... I don't wanna use the word dance but we wanna move the audience. We're not looking for a Dream Theater record because it's not the kind of players we are anyway and no offence to those guys because they do what they do right? But we want it to be.. we want to be just a real good rock band. That's all we want. We just wanna rock out and just write some good rock and roll material but we want it to be thick and heavy. So that's where we are at. There's definately no feminine qualities in this project - so that's where we're at.
Glenn: Yeah. Are there any certain songs that you stand out that you are proud of that you've been part of so far?
Mike: Yeah. Actually le me be honest with you. We're not gonna write a full length CD. We've decided as a team to put out an E.P. first to give our fans something quickly so that we can get it out there and then following it up with the other half. There's a song called 'Already Dead' - it is one of our title tracks and we think it might be one of our singles and it might also be the title of the new Hurricane record. I'm not saying that is gonna be it but we've talked about it being that. It's a cool song. It's kinda like Black Sabbath meets Iron Maiden and it's pretty crazy.
After a very short break we talked some more...
So what we were talking about was new audience, what our goals are in Hurricane and things like that and ironically we were talking about the LA market versus the Mid west and East Coast & European Market. Our goal isn't to satisfy the Los Angeles market. Our goal is to satisfy everywhere else but Los Angeles and that was my quote for real. When I went home to Chicago in November to basically close the book, my brother had passed away. I went home and I hadn't seen some of my junior high school friends after 20+ years. They came to my house. Well they brought their families and they brought their kids. When they came over to my house I was very amazed on how many 15 year old kids knew who Hurricane was. That blew my f*ck*n' mind. It was flattering at the same time and I told those people. They go, "Mike", I go, "What?"- it was one of the daughters of one of my buddies. "Hey Hurricane - my friends are gonna be really jealous". I go, "Why are they gonna be jealous?", she goes, "Because they're all Hurricane fans", and I go, "I'll tell you what - this is a day to come together in spirit for my brother".
I said, "You tell all your friends if they wanna come over and share that with me, they are welcome to come over and if they want something signed, I have no problem doing that. My brother would probably get off on that because he was a major music connisseur and he was always into everything I did so he wouldn't feel I'm taking that from him. So all these friends came over to the house and I signed some stuff for 'em and we just sat at the quiet table as I call it. Everybody just sat around the fireplace. We just talked about things and they asked me a million qustions about Hurricane and they were 15 years old. That just goes to show what's happening in the market- - that the rock 'n' roll is not dead - the 80's rock and it's gonna come back. I'm not saying we're trying to be an 80's Rock band - wer're not and I already stated that but what I'm saying is that it's neat that the generations are there because they are always searching and life is so much faster now witrh the Internet that people get bored quicker and always searching for quicker faster, quicker faster right?
Mike: So here you are. When I came back and reported it to the band they had a status smile all over their faces and they could not believe that. My point is, is that there are a lot of fans out there in the Mid-West and East Coast that we haven't even hit yet because we have not even done a big tour yet because we won't do it until this album's done but we do play locally. We've done charity benefits for the Red Cross. We're doing all the right reasons stuff. We did the Rainbow's 40th Anniversary Party which was over 2000 people and people were even saying, "Oh my god, I didn't know Hurricane was back together again", so it's very cool where we are going with this and how we are taking care. I'd rather take more time than make it a greater denominator than a non-denominator and come out quicker and give the fans less.
Glenn: That makes complete sense. You don't wanna cheat 'em and in the long run you'd be cheating yourselves and what you could achieve.
Mike: Right on.
Glenn: Yeah. So what has the reception been from gigs you have done from people?
Mike: There's been a lot of people that have come up to the band. I mean, like I was stating earlier, we get our hecklers that are just so grounded into like originality of a band. It's not the same. Of course it's not the same. We're not trying to be the same. I get that. You don't have to tell me that, okay, you don't have to remind me that the two members aren't in that band. We understand that. We're very, very aware of that. So we're okay with at. All we're trying to do is play rock 'n' roll music and give people music man - that's all we're trying to do. We're not trying to be competitive with any side of any history is what I say. So the fans that do care have come up and said, "Oh my god, you guys are amazing", and how good we were and how heavy we were and how tight we were. We get a lot of that. You can tell that we are very polished. That's what people say. That's what people have been telling us.
Glenn: That's brilliant. What's been the reception regarding the new songs compared to the old songs . Have the fans grabbed the new songs as much as they have the new songs or has it been a..
Mike: Well the thing is, as far as the band haven't played anything new yet? We're holding back. But you're not wrong. A lot of bands will test their music out.
Mike: I understand what you're saying. We have not done that yet. We will. We have a couple of songs that we are gonna do and we are gonna play a couple. We have to - we gotta test drive 'em but we have not got that yet. It's premature right now.
Glenn: So how was the Rainbow Anniversary Party for you guys? Did you have a good set?
Mike: The receptiveness was amazing. The owners and the academy said how good we were and we got a lot of talk about the band. Us and Dokken were probably the key bands here. They were all good bands - no joke, but we got the most hype, the most talked about. Yeah dude, we had a full audience man. It was like packed. It was like playing f*ck*n' Dodger Stadium out here man. It was the craziest thing I have ever seen in its history now.
Glenn: I mean it's packed here on a Saturday night.
Mike: Dude you couldn't move more than 2 feet. You coudn't push anybody out of your way - there was too many people to push out of the way. It was crazy dude.
Glenn: How did the NAMM appearance come about?
Mike: What happened was, I got a call from a fellow mate of mine and he said, "Okay man, you know Peavey's looking for a band to play for NAMM show ", and I go "Really?", he says, "Yeah - one backed up - they had kind of a discrepancy". Well we are Peavey endorcers, Robert is, Robert Sarzo is, is more of a Peavey Endorcer - -now we all are. I call Robert and I go, "Robert, I got a lead. This is the deal. They are looking for somebody to play the show", he goes', "I'm on it now". He called within 10 minutes, hooked it up. I said, "It's up to you to deal with this - it's not up to me, I just got you the lead, deal with it". So he hooked it up in a matter of minutes and they had us come down there and we played two days. We did two 30 minute shows and we had people just surrounding the booth at the NAMM show. We were very happy about the attendence. We drew a lot of attention and we did an unplugged set. We didn't do electric, we did unplugged which was really cool. So we did a whole different rendition of all the songs and they really dug it man and we had other national act players watching us as well and coming up to us and saying what a great job we did and how good our harmonies are beause we do four part harmonies in this band. So it's neat - we still got that goin' on.
Glenn: What are the standout parts of the set that you enjoy playing so far? Are there any certain songs that stand out from others and for what reasons?
Mike: You know what, we've got four albums that we could be doing which the fourth one, a lot of people don't know about. But we play two out of the four and the reason why is nothing but the songs that we like ourselves. So the set list that we're all playing, everybody enjoys all the songs that we're playing and there's a lot more songs we can play but we like what we're playing so we play the hits because we know we have to but we like everything that we're doing. So there's not one song where I go, "God we got this one to do and now we gotta get through it". No man, we play every song 110% and we enjoy it. We really do and that's why we pick the ones we pick for the audience to listen to. We didn't go, "Oh no we gotta do this because of that". There's other great songs on those albums that we're not doing but we chose these because we feel good about these ones because we feel good about it.
Glenn: So I guess Hurricane will be playing all over when you get the chance?
Mike: As soon as the record comes out. We are looking this Summer to launch the record . We said that last Summer. I get it, you know - I gotta update the page but you know what, I can't control, you know it's like when Picasso made his painting man, he didn't put a timeline on it. We all gotta put some kinda timeline on it and I get where you are coming from but we're not gonna give our audience garbage. We can't do that and we're not over micro-managing it either. I just wanted to let you know that. Some people take so much time that it never comes out. It's coming out, it's coming out. We've 3 solid songs, actually 4 solid songs and we have a guest artist appearing with us too actually on one of 'em because we are doing one re-make.
Glenn: Are you allowed to say what that is yet?
Mike: I can say who it is. It's 'Under Pressure' by Queen.
Glenn: That's cool.
Mike: And we actually have Oni Logan singing the other part with Andrew Freeman. I just made a call to Oni from Lynch Mob and I said, "Dude, would you be interested in doing the other part?", and he said, "As long as I'm Bowie", I says, "Well good - we have an understanding", I says, "You can be Bowie and Andrew - he can do his Freddie Mercury". it was never "No, no. no - you be this you be that". It was like a total understanding right out of the gate and accepted.
Mike: So wait 'til you hear what we did to this song man. We just all love that song and we just wanted to do it because we wanted to do it not because we were short of material at all if everybody was thinking about that. We just wanna do it. Why? Because we just wanted to. We just think it's a great song.
Mike: I'm not saying we are gonna try and do it better. We're just gonna do it differently.
Glenn: Awesome. What would you say the differences are or the similarities between playing with guys like George Lynch to playing with the guys in Hurricane? Is it very different in a mindset point of view.
Mike: Yeah. You can't compare the two animals man. They are two different animals. I mean, George Lynch is like one of the best guitar players in the world. I mean, he's top 5, you know but I am playing George Lynch's stuff. Hurricane is a band. It's a little different - it's a band. George Lynch - it's a band but it's George Lynch.
Mike: Yeah. You know, it's about George. The attendance of the fans are about George because George tries to get players that have names behind 'em to draw that audience - it means more men. There's nothing wrong with that. That's a totally smart business man. But it's like playing for Steve Vai or anybody. It's like the guitar virtuoso guy. He's labelled as a guitar vituoso. Robert Sarzo is a guitar virtuoso but he's labelled as Hurricane - as a band and there's a difference. When you think of Eddie Van Halen you think of Eddie Van Halen but you think of Van Halen.
Mike: You know what I mean? It's the same nucleus basically. That's cool. I'm diggin' it. I wanna be from a band. I don't wanna be a side guy. We all.. this is kind of personal but I'm not giving you numbers but I'm telling you this right now - Everybody in this band splits it right down the middle so I want those people to know that this band is an equal opportunist band. It's not two guys making more money than the others. I wanna set that record real straight.
Glenn: Yeah because there are two or three that are like that.
Mike: We are a band because people wanna know these things even though they're personal because it's like, "Oh those guys are probably making all the money and those guys are making half of the money." No No No No - not in Hurricane. We have an agreement that everything is down the middle. Why? Because that's what's gonna keep the band together.
Glenn: And not just that, no one member is any more important than any other member.
Mike: Thank You. Absolutely and one guy isn't just doing all the work. So that's why we do it this way because we know.. we went in as a deal saying, "Hey man, we're all gonna pull our weight - it's not one guy bustin' his *ss for everything. That guy would deserve that then but it turns into that whole channel and we didn't want that to happen. So that's where we're at. I think it's important that the fans know that. I know it's personal and it's none of their business but it kinda is because people get that close to a band they wanna know in comfortness like that a band is being a band because you know there are not any.
Glenn: You've got to look at a lot of the bigger names out there like Whitesnake.
Mike: It's hired guns.
Glenn: Yeah. It's all it is.
Mike: Yeah it's about David Coverdale. But Hurricane is about the band.
Glenn: Exactly because if it was a hired guns thing it'd be called something like Robert Sarzo's 'Hurricane' but it's not called that it's called 'Hurricane'.
Mike: Right. Exactly and the guys are so, so positive with that. They wanna be known for that. When they do their interviews and they talk to people, they say that too. We're a team man. So.. and you know what, the maket lacks that. It really does. Everybody's got caught up into so much corporate world that the spices are gone, the seasoning is gone, you know, because everything is just so corporate. Hey man, why don't you just go and be a f*ck*n' band man and just play your sh*t. You know, the business sh*t is the business sh*t. It's in every band but let's be a band. Let's go out.. and you know what? It shows because people can read that when you are on stage. They can feel that. That's why we kick *ss.
Glenn: And there's no memorex - it's all purely live.
Mike: 100%. We're killing it man. We make our mistakes on stage like everybody else but we keep going forward. We laugh onstage. We make fun of ourselves. We make fun of people. We do all kinds of sh*t. But that's called being a band man.
Glenn: It makes it fun and keeps it going and stops you getting stagnent and boring.
Glenn: You are 4 guys there - not robots.
Mike: Well yeah. Now there's a video that's gonna be launched by the Rainbow for the 40th Anniversary - it just hasn't been edited yet. So these people've got that that to look forward to. The ones that couldn't make it. So it's gonna be really neat. I tell you what, there were were a lot of famous people in that audience. I mean, Dave Lombardo from Slayer was in the audience. You know, I mean, Lemmy from Motorhead. God dude there were so many people watching the show. It's amazing that. There could have been even more people playing. That's why it made it such an honour to be asked. I mean, when you're at the Rainbow and you can pretty much ask anybody to play and they would. For Hurricane to be asked that. The family called me and asked me personally. "Mike, we wanna ask you if you would like to play our show?". That wasn't even a question. It was like, "Dude, we're there". It's the f*ck*n' Rainbow. There's no place more famous in thw world than this pub. And they consider it a pub. Yeah they do and they're all from my hometown. They are all Chicago people. It's just amazing how people think of The Whisky or The Rainbow and all this stuff - it's a trip. We live here so it's like looking at a mountain every day right? You don't look at it anymore.
Glenn: Yeah you get sick of it.
Mike: But when you've never seen that mountain it's like 'Holy Sh*t'. I think that's the impact that this town has to some people.
Glenn: It's like when you see the Roxy again or the multicoloured lights of The Rainbow when you get off that bus or car. It stops you in your tracks and it's unexplainable.
Mike: Really? God this is what everybody is talking about. This is because it is what it is. Vegas did that to me. When I first came to Vegas when I was 18. Dude when I got off that plane and I got picked up by the Limo, I was just like "Holy Sh*t, look at these lights". I mean, I'd never seen anything like it and I got to see the old Vegas because that's like going back to what Sammy Davis Jnr told me. He's like moth up in the air and his eye hanging out. He's like doing his Sammy move because it's Sammy man. He's like, "You've got this much" . I'm pointing with finger of a slither of what Vegas was really about. He goes, "At least you can experience that much". Then they blew up the Sands, then they blew up the dunes. All the nostalgic of the desert in - they blew up all what made Vegas - they blow it up and it just blows me away that they would blow something up that actually created that won. That I don't get... But he told me that and I got experience.. like "Hey man, I'm sitting with Sammy". That's Vegas right there. So I can't see any other 45 year old sitting around me right now can say they had a conversation that you and I are having right now like I did with Sammy Davis Jnr - that's pretty cool.
Glenn: That's incredible. What do you enjoy doing outside music as hobbies and interests?
Mike: Well what I do.. honestly I have another business. You're gonna trip on this one. I own a high end painting company and I cater to stars and celebrities. I do all the really fancy high end finishes with a crew. Up to a couple of years ago before this recession I had 12 employees working for me and I'm doing all like Gene Simmons house, Princes home, the owner of Guitar Centre - I do all these big peoples homes. This is what I do. I also work for the Mangini Family who own The Whisky and The Rainbow. Last year I painted the outside of The Whisky - Me - I did it - and you know what, they called me for that. Now this is interesting - if they got Joe Schmo out of the phone book to paint that building, he'd be like 'There's a f*ck*n' paint job!'. Me - I have more compassionate than that. I come from the music industry which... so many people have played the Whisky so I have more compassion for it. So I'm not just a painter. I got an award, like the wall of fame - you know the stars in the concrete - I have one for 'Art & Architectual Design' from The Whisky A Go-Go'. I got awarded an award for redesigning the whole outside of that building.
Glenn: Wow. That's incredible.
Mike: It's trippy. But I have compassion because I know what the Whisky's about. Like I said, Joe Schmo - he don't give a sh*t - he just wants the cheque at the end of the day. So what I did was I owned up my CAD drawings and I drew up the whole plan of attack to the Maglieri family and I showed 'em what their building was gonna look like on CAD drawings before I even started it. I had it schematiced on my computer. So they got to see the finished product before I even started it. Then after that, there's so much detail and so much plaster details from the 30's because the building was built in the 30's that they were just sprayed and painted over man and never accentuated. So what I did was... they wanted to keep the black and the red - those were the colours. The buildings been there - the buildings been a lot of things but what I did, I just recreated where everything goes. A little bit more making sense. But what I do is, there's a border on top of the building which when you go by, you're gonna see it. I did it in Platinum Silver. Why I did it in Platinum? It's for a positive energy colour and two - it's success. I put that colour on because a lot of the bands that have played in that venue have been successful. Platinum is like a platinum record - success. So that is my contribution to making the building like kinda like funksway right? But I did it rocksway. I put platinum up there and we got up there, my guys. We got a little artist brush and we outlined all clovers. Irish Clovers up there which is good look right?
Glenn: Yeah, yeah.
Mike: So I did it all in Platinum Silver so that's why I did the top of the border in platinum to basically represent success and the success in the bands that have been through that place. That's why I did that.
Glenn: What would you say you are most proud of so far in your career?
Mike: What I'm proud of in my career is probably in the music business is being able to play with really good players and doing this over 30+ years and still be in the business. That's what I'm proud of being able to still be playing rather than 5 years and be gone. I'm proud of that.
Glenn: Is there anything you'd like to talk about that I've not mentioned yet?
Mike: I did ask President Clinton to play on my record at one time because he's a saxophone play and he told me he'd do it. So I have connections with that too but I just never did it but it was kinda funny that I've met the President of The United States, President Clinton and he would say that. "Maybe some day you could play on my album?", and he goes, "Absolutely", and he says, "I know how to get your number", through my client so that was kinda funny so I did get to meet the President. Imagine having the President playing saxonphone on your album?
Glenn: That's as cool as sh*t.
Mike: Nobody's ever done that.
Glenn: I've seen him palying and thought, "F*ck*n' Hell - he's good!
Mike: Oh yeah totally.
Glenn: Don't you have a cool story about playing with George Lynch?
Mike: Yeah we were on Tour together with the term 'Souls of We' and believe it or not as a guitar vituoso, he used to give me a solo every night which is kinda rare for a guitar player on his level because 9 times out of 10 it's about the guitar player and he used to let me shine man. I tell you what, George was very cool to me and George is always cool to me. I mean he always made comments at the end of my solos, going, "Man I used to always love watching you play because every night you used to bring something new - you always paint a new picture", and he used to tell me that privately. Just like one one one like a Bo Diddley hang. It was kinda neat. So I had a really good connection with him in a different way. It's pretty neat when a guy you can be on the road with at that level and impress them and entertain them every night. That was cool.
Glenn: How would you describe the drum style of Mike Hansen?
Mike: I would have to say I'm more of a Rock-Funk player. That would be what I would categorise myself as far as somebody else asking you, "What do you think or how the Mike Hansen style is? It's more Rock-Funk and that's kinda where I come from. More of that style. I'm a rock drummer but I have a lot of soul.
Mike: Mitch Mitchell - that kind of style.
Glenn: What would you like to say to the fans of you guys and the readership of Metalliville?
Mike: I wanna first thank Glenn from Metalliville for having me and representing Hurricane and playing an interest in the band because I know you're a fan of the band. You know we just want people to take a moment and really listen to what we're doing and all we're trying to do it make people happy - music is the universal language. That's where I'm at with it and we just wanna really just make people happy that's all. We're not out to be competitive with anybody. We just wanna give people Rock 'N' Roll and just keep it goin'. That's what we're doin'. That's where I'm at.
Glenn: Mike it's been a pleasure Sir!
Mike: Thank you Glenn. Thank you very much. I appreciate it. Cheers.
A big thankyou to Kruzin Kenny for setting up the Interview (and also for some great pictures); the Staff @ The Rainbow Bar and Grill for being so co-operative during the Interview and of course Mike Hansen himself for his time and excellent pix.