A CONVERSATION WITH MIKE LESLIE
SINGER, SONGWRITER, AND ALL-AROUND GREAT GUY MIKE LESLIE TALKED WITH ROCKBANDREVIEWS.COM IN ADVANCE OF HIS PERFORMANCE AT CRAZY UNCLE MIKE'S IN BOCA RATON FLORIDA LAST NIGHT. LESLIE TOURED AND PLAYED GUITAR WITH THE GRUNGE-BASED BAND CANDLEBOX BEFORE AN ACCIDENT INTERRRUPTED AND SIDELINED HIS MUSIC CAREER
IN THIS INTERVIEW, LESLIE TALKS ABOUT THE COVID-19 QUARANTINE, A NEW ALBUM, & TOURING AGAIN WITH CANDLEBOX. mIKE LESLIE WILL BE AT CRAZY UNCLE MIKE'S THIS FRIDAY NIGHT (JUNE 19) FROM 6-8 PM.
Q: The world has certainly changed in the last few months because of COVID-19. What did you do during the quarantine to keep your mind busy?
Pretty much just trying to stick to a routine and sleep has been the most important thing, and exercising. I don’t know, man I’ve been trying to write but it’s weird. I released a cover song about a month ago at Daniel Johnston cover. But other than that, I haven't written really anything new and I thought it was some crazy thing with me, but I talked to a bunch of my other friends who are songwriters and there’s not a lot of creative stuff happening right now. It's like some kind of crazy phenomenon. You are either doing nothing or you are doing your double-album that you have been meaning to do.
Q: It must feel good to be playing live again?
Yes! It is the best feeling ever! I started about a month ago down here and at first, it was really weird, like this feels kind of erie, kinda weird. This is a great place and the stage is pretty high and out of the way, so people can still be pretty careful.
Q: As a Guitars, are you self taught?
Yeah., pretty much. I read a lot of books, tabs, and stuff like that. I had a few lessons. My dad taught me the only three chords he knew, like D, G, and A (laughs), and that was it. From there I just, kind of listened a lot.
Q: Who are some of the bands you idolized growing up?
I'm pretty young, so I am not as old as some of my other counterparts in Candlebox. Honestly, I started playing music because of Nirvana and they were my favorite from a very young age. I started playing guitar when I was about four or five and that's how old I was when Nevermind came out and it just always stuck with me. Then I started getting into punk stuff, The Ramones, Offspring, and shit. That's all pretty easy stuff to play on the guitar. That helped me get into the guitar and stuff like that. Then, obviously I started to listen to Hendrix and all the classic stuff. The biggest inspiration is probably the Beatles. My parents were both huge Beatles fans. Since I can remember, their music has always been imprinted in my head.
Q: As a singer, your voice is also your instrument. What do you do, if anything to maintain your vocals?
I think not drinking and smoking is the biggest help. But sometimes, you can't do that. I always think that singing is like probably like 90% confidence. Being able to hit a certain note, if your hesitating, you are not going to be able to hit a certain note. It's about really having the energy inside of you to really do it. Other than that, it's the technique and your lung and breath structure and your throat.
Q: What is happening with the Mike Leslie trio? Will the three of you be on the road together soon?
I'm not really sure what it's called right now. It's like Mike Leslie Band, or Trio, you know. It's just the people I play with. We just did a Facebook Live right before, we live in Michigan, it was a couple of days before the lockdown, and it was done in a recording studio and people loved it. were like, "We can just do this every week". Then it was a total lockdown and we were all super-social distancing. I don't know what we are gonna do right now. I was actually trying to finish recording an album completely solo, just me and then it was gonna be half that and then half the band. just stuff I wrote and wanted to do. A lot of acoustic stuff, singer-songwriter stuff. I'll probably play a few of those tonight. It was gonna be half that, and then half heavy blues/rock stuff. That's still the plan, but I really don't know right now where we're gonna go.
Q: Will you be playing with Candlebox again?
Yeah, I would love to. We've been kinda in contact since this whole thing started. They are just kinda let me do my own thing and they are doing theirs. I love them so much I would love to play. As far as I know, they are pushing the tours way back so far. even albums. I think they were supposed to have an album out like now and they pushed that back as well. It's not the best summer for touring right now. there are still a lot of Candlebox fans that still come out to my show so I play Candlebox song for the people. Everybody wants to hear the hits. It's so different playing right now because you feed off of the energy of the crowd and there are none really. Everybody right now is doing a lot of Facebook Live and that is really great because it is saving music.
Q: The accident that mangled your leg pretty much stopped your career in its tracks and left your future uncertain. out of the darkness of such a tragic accident, have you been able to find a positive light?
Yeah, huge. The first thing that happened with the accident was that I quit smoking. I was in the hospital for the better part of a month and you can't smoke in there. that obviously helped a lot. I had been smoking since I was sixteen or some shit like that. the second thing is that, Between touring with Candlebox and everything that was going on, I was kind of out-of-touch with reality. When you are in a touring situation, and that's all you are doing, it's like what time is it, what city am I in? I was just going so fast al the time. If I could take something from the accident is that it allowed me to slow down and come back to earth for a while. Since I started the Mike Leslie Band and joining up with Candlebox, I was constantly touring and moving. It was really humbling and it brought me back down. I really needed it.
MIKE LESLIE HAS DONE SEVERAL AMAZING NIGHT'S AT CRAZY UNCLE MIKE'S IN THE LAST FEW WEEKS. CHECK OUT CRAZY UNCLE MIKE'S WEBSITE FOR MORE PERFORMANCE DATES AND TIMES.