Our next spotlight artists are Mike Ferraro & the Young Republicans. We were introduced by our mutual friend, Joe Janish, who writes an excellent blog about the NY Mets called MetsToday.com. Mike & his band have recently released their full length debut, "What's Yours is Mine". The singer & songwriter answers our questions below...
How did your band's name come about? Has it ever caused confusion with your audience, or with actual young Republicans?
It started as a gag. I don't remember why. At our first show someone suggested we introduce ourselves that way, and it sorta stuck from there.
All this really to avoid playing under just my name, which feels right for the songs, but is unfair to my bandmates, I think, since their contributions are significant and unique to the presentation of the songs...I mean, I have band names stockpiled, but none of them felt right for this band.
As the primary songwriter, I guess it’s natural I feel this way to some extent...a snappy band name feels somehow too impersonal for a project that revolves around my songs, which are typically written by me, alone, on acoustic guitar. That, and I guess I’ve always liked the sound of guy-with-band-name band names...Tom Petty, Neil Young, Ted Leo etc.
Hands down, Emmett Miller and his Georgia Crackers is my fave of that ilk. Anyway, given the name we chose, confusion is inevitable, and I welcome it, frankly. It’s certainly a conversation piece. I think it’s pretty clear from the album title alone, WHAT’S YOURS IS MINE, that the band name is tongue-in-cheek, but people are awfully literal-minded, to put it mildly.
How long have you been performing?
Been playing music publicly since fall 2003--starting right here in lovely downtown Manhattan, which looked pretty diff then than it does now, come to think of it.
Past lives (i.e., previous bands, your early years, etc.):
I’ve never been in anyone’s band but my own. and don’t have any real inclination to do so to be honest. There have been a few different incarnations, but it’s always been my songs that I’ve been interested in playing.
In ‘03 it was Jon and I, first as a duo, then as a trio, under the name Ciampi (pronounced champy; my mom’s maiden name). Jon, a non-drummer, played drums, which indicates the depths of our frustrations to find a competent player who wasn’t a total sub-human. Then a few years later after Jon and I went our separate ways, Ralph and I linked up and played together, mostly as a duo, and recorded an EP, AWFUL KILLERS. But MF/YR was born when Jon eventually returned to the fold on the eve of the release of the aforementioned EP.
My life growing up was your standard narrow-minded suburban existence, replete with all the intellectual and spiritual stagnancy such blight breeds. Being near the city helped--it provided a modicum of escape early on, at least. I read a lot, which widened my perspective considerably. For a kid of my temperament, this was crucial. Anyway, from there it seemed like a logical step to want to develop a voice of my own. That became really important to me and remains my focus, and so, here we are.
My strongest influences come from my reading; the goal being, as Flaubert says, ‘to move the stars to pity.’ An impossible task, of course, but one worthy of the effort.
That sounds awfully pretentious but it’s the truth...and is the only reason for doing anything creative in my view. That said, there are too many bands to recite here as influences. besides, it’s not as my influences are not readily apparent to anyone with even a reasonable grasp of pop/rock music history of the last say 50-60 years.
Favorite venues to play:
I’m none too particular really--I’ll play anywhere, anytime; usually the stranger the setup the better for my taste--for example, we’re playing the Best Buy on Union Square this month in addition to regular club dates and I’m looking forward to it--should be a somewhat surreal experience at the very least.
As far as more traditional rock venues go--Maxwell’s in Hoboken is great, they treat bands really well. In the city proper, Sidewalk Cafe is a good joint...honestly I prefer smaller rooms, like local neighborhood bars, because they tend to operate differently. The meat market mentality that dominates the booking strategy of most NYC clubs is usually less severe or altogether non-existent.
Blatant self-promotion: What would you like to plug?
I’ve already done a fair bit of that already, haven’t I? Our record is now available online at most digital retailers. We’re really proud of it. please buy it online or better yet come out to a show and buy a CD from us. To that end, we will be at Best Buy in Union Square on Wednesday, 3/16 and Trash Bar in Brooklyn on Friday, 3/18. Check mikeferraro.net for more info.
Friday, March 18, 2011:
Mike Ferraro & The Young Republicans
Open bar from 8-9pm with $8 admission
The Trash Bar
256 Grand St.
(bet. Driggs Ave. & Roebling St.)
How long did it take to record your new album "What's Yours Is Mine"?
Too long. we did it whenever our schedules permitted it--the next one will be much faster; I am raring to go on it, actually. Considering the span of time, it has a remarkably unified sound, which makes sense since we did it all ourselves on the cheap with the help of some talented and kind friends along the way.
Reverb Nation: mikeferraro
Sonic bids: mikeferraro
Where can we buy your music?
iTunes, Amazon, Napster, Rhapsody, eMusic, CD Baby
Tell us a story or anecdote about performing live.
Our first show together, ralph and I randomly opened for el madmo, Norah Jones’ (now defunct?) glam-rock side project. We didn’t know till we loaded in to the club and her tech informed us. I of course was filled with dread and panic at the thought of sharing the mic with the esteemed chanteuse on such short notice. They were all super nice. The whole thing was really hush hush.
Any advice to someone just starting out?
Clearly, someone just starting out should be giving me advice. But I will say this: do it because you don’t want to do anything else. otherwise, don’t bother...the rest simply does not matter.
I saw some of your paintings on your website, dated '00 and '02. Do you still paint? Is that your artwork on the album cover?
It is, thanks for asking. It’s an old acrylic from round that time. When we decided on the album title, of all the stuff I had laying around, it seemed to fit best.
I do still paint; though less than I would like to, for a variety of reasons. I mostly do oil pastels now; they’re cheaper and cleaner...it's all of a piece to me...art, music, writing, reading.
The doing is the thing, whatever the task at hand.
We were introduced via a mutual friend, Joe Janish. How do you know Joe?
I met Joe through my drummer Ralph. He’s been nice enough to ask us to do a version of MEET THE METS for his blog. We’re working on it now and it will be up and ready mid-March, just in time for opening day...
Below is a video for Mike Ferraro & the Young Republicans' song "What's Yours is Mine":