Interview with Michael Clark by Andrew Logan, freelance journalist.
Andrew: I saw your show last night and I thought the jam pieces were incredible at times. So, I guess a good place to start is to tell me a bit about your musical influences.
Michael: Well, I'm glad you came out to see what we're up to! In terms of musical influences, I'd have to say that Peter Green, Eric Clapton of the Mayall and Cream era, and Jimi Hendrix are influences. But, so are many of the blues guys like Otis Rush, T- Bone, PeeWee Crayton, Gatemouth Brown, B.B. King, Magic Sam, Hound Dog Taylor and many other great players. Dick Dale is an influence. So is David Gilmour of Pink Floyd. And, Hollywood Fats for sure.
Andrew: So you blend these styles into your playing?
Michael: I don't really know. It all goes into the psyche somehow and comes out the way it does. I don't consciously try to do anything but play what seems to be emotionally wanting to be heard.
Andrew: So your sort of a conduit?
Michael: Exactly. My goal is to get out of the way. Let the guitar become transparent. Just be an expression of what seems to want to be heard at that moment. That's my goal, anyway.
Andrew: But many players I have spoken with seem to really admire your library of guitar licks.
Michael: Ha! I appreciate that, but I don't think I have any licks per se. I mean, I guess I do within a certain context. But, I don't think of guitar playing in terms of licks.
Andrew: How do you look at it?
Michael: In terms of phrasing. In terms of pure expression. Telling a story. A story that's not so much my story. It's the story that's being given to me at that moment.
Andrew: By whom?
Michael: I don't know. The spirit guides I guess.
Andrew: Does this relate to your interest in psychedelic music?
Michael: Psychedelic music plays a role. Maybe an important role. At least if we look at some forms of psychedelic music as having the goal of expanding the mind musically. Sort of putting Huxley or Leary or certain philosophical constructs to music.
Andrew: So psychedelic music is a big influence.
Michael: Well, not all of it. Not very much of it, actually. I would say mainly the 13th Floor Elevators. They changed the way I looked at music probably as much as Hendrix did.
Michael: When I saw them for the first time, I was in a band that played Beatles, Stones, Animals stuff. We opened for the Elevators. We were all dressed alike in our Beatle boots, matching jeans, silk shirts. We did our set and then the Elevators played. I was transported into another place. I knew I could never go back to how I was maybe an hour before. So, I joined the psychedelic music scene. I got into "The Psychedelic Sounds Of" very deeply. I'm still there, today!
Andrew: And you bring that into your playing today?
Michael: I attempt to. It's my interpretation, of course. But, it's in my blood. Maybe I should say it's in my mind! Or in my cells! Ha!
Andrew: Do you like any of the current guitar players?
Michael: Sure. Jim Thomas of the Mermen is fantastic. The fellow who plays with Radiohead is cool. I like some of the Nine Inch Nails stuff in terms of what they do with the guitar. The guy who played with Portisehead was very tasteful.
Andrew: What is intodown all about? What does it mean?
Michael: It is a state of mind, a feeling, a place of origination. "Down" is sort of that mind state that is below the radar. Somewhere melancholy. Pensive. It is where the mystery lives. It is that in-between place of here and there. The rabbit hole. I invite people to join me there. intodown.
Andrew: So it's a state of being?
Michael: Perhaps a state of non-being. It's a trance state of sorts where you step outside yourself into another world or dimension. I give control over to something else. I get out of the way. I release my grip on things. It's like jumping into river with a slow - well sometimes slow - moving current. Just go with it. No questions. No answers. No right or wrong. It's go with it and try to stay in it without trying too hard. Trying too hard will take you out of it.
Andrew: So that's where some of the great guitar playing comes from?
Michael: Yes. But, please know that I don't take ownership of it. It's being given to me. It's up to me to be a good translator. To be able to play on the guitar what is coming through me. My job is to build sufficient facility on the guitar to perform an adequate translation. My task is facility. The more facility, the more I am given to express or translate.
Andrew: So what's next for you?
Michael: Well, I'm working on a new CD project that is very important to me. It's mostly improvisational, psychedelic rock and roll. High energy, edgy stuff. I'm very excited about it. Basically bass, drums and me on guitar.
Andrew: Well, I really look forward to hearing the CD! And thank you for your time!
Michael: Thank you for your interest! I've enjoyed speaking with you.
See interview, above.
I play live throughout the US. Yes, I like it. Special moments? Yes, when the mystery begins, intodown.
Pink Floyd. Soft Machine. Beatles. Animals. Yardbirds. Zombies. The 13th Floor Elevators. Fever Tree. Peter Green/Fleetwood Mac. Cream. Early Stones. Mic Taylor. Nine Inch Nails. Skinny Puppy. Dick Dale. The Chantays. The Pyramids. Jimi Hendrix. Miles. Coltrane. Theo. The Bach Canons. The Mermen. Rob Zombie. Dylan. Jeff Beck. The Music Machine. The Seeds. Spirit. Quicksilver. John Lee Hooker. Hollywood Fats. The Ventures. The Shadows. Eno. Link Wray. Thursday's Children. Acid Mother's Temple. Snowy White. Smoke.
My equipment is shown on my website.