Michael Dermot comes from an eclectic background in music; influences ranging from Disney soundtracks, Hüsker Dü, to Weezer, are all reflected in the new album, Distance Reawakens, by the Eden Prairie native.
DIY to the core, Dermot does everything himself: booking, promoting, and managing. It's easy for many artists to say that they are DIY these days, since you don't need a record label for distribution or a publicist for promotion, but not many artists have the work ethic behind them like Michael.
In the title track, Michael narrates the story of young man "drawn back home," telling the struggles that is shared by many artists before him: of a young man in transition, waiting for the next step in his life.
Michael Dermot releases Distance Reawakens with Kourtnee Britney, Whisky Crick, and Rookai at the Fineline Music Cafe on Sunday, 8/21.
21+, Free, 7 pm
Jase Ginkel - Bass
Charlie Olson - Lead Guitar
Peter Anderson (The Honeydogs, The Ocean Blue) - Drums
Michael Dermot - Vocals, Rhythm & Lead Guitar
Gimme Noise: I hear a lot of Weezer in your music; what did you grow up listening to? Anyone I wouldn't expect to be in the mix?
Michael Dermot: I grew up listening to whatever my parents were listening to. My dad was really into some of the alt-rock stuff like Smashing Pumpkins, the Pixies, and Weezer. My mom's tastes leaned toward pop-rock, such as Oasis and Semisonic. What helped me get through high school was when I discovered progressive rock and metal. Dream Theater and Pink Floyd were heroes to me and are still huge influences. You wouldn't expect that I am a huge Prince nerd; he's probably my favorite artist.
Well, it was my first time writing away from a band environment so originally I didn't know what I was doing. I was just writing songs for the sake of writing and it was incredibly fun. I would sit in my dorm and have these marathon writing sessions with my unplugged Epiphone SG and I was so happy. My ultimate goal with Distance Reawakens was to create a guitar-driven Pop/Rock album, and I would have to say that I succeeded.
I had presented these songs to the band I was in that summer and they really weren't interested. The songs they did pick ("Beneath the Burning Sun" and "Hold Me Back") wound up being so different from how I had conceived them to be so I thought, "The only way I'm gonna hear these songs the way I want to is if I record them myself."
I also wasn't enjoying the band due to the fact that most of the time it was what I wanted vs. what they wanted and that is not fair to the other musicians I was working with. So I told the guys that I wouldn't be the singer/front-man anymore and there wasn't much drama or anything. The bassist from that band, Jase Ginkel, is one of my best friends and he played on Distance Reawakens.
I have no management and I am unsigned so I am booking the gigs myself, calling venues, packaging CDs and literally burning every copy of the album that is ordered. It's pretty cool to be so hands-on with everything, but I'd love to have people besides my mom helping me out.
We're going to be playing most Distance Reawakens live along with a couple covers. We have the same musicians who recorded the album, including Peter Anderson who is a Minneapolis legend. A lot of the arrangements will be changed to make the songs work better live and you will be able to gauge where I'm going on album 2 when you see this show. It's gonna be very raw rock.
Well, my opening acts are a smattering of up-and-coming artists from around Minneapolis I am really enjoying, particularly Whisky Crick. They're such a ball to see live. They are the most rockin' and electric Bluegrass band you'll ever see. Rookai is a really powerful and haunting Jazz group.
These are groups that are fantastic live because they're fun but also musically tight. Another great up-and-coming artist I'm loving is Brynn Andre, who just recently has a solo show too. She's got an amazing voice and can write a haunting melody for sure.