A goofy musician hailing from Indiana, Totally Michael has spent the past few years finding a balance between well-crafted tunes and performance-based humor, playing shows in just about any bar, basement or club that would have him. He considers himself more of an MC who sometimes plays guitar, but he's generating something wholly different with his self-titled new album and bombastic live shows, which he discussed in a recent phone interview. What is Totally Michael?
Totally Michael is the horrible band name that I'm stuck with for eternity. Totally Michael is also me. I'm Michael.
Why is audience participation so important at your shows?
I think people should go to shows expecting a good time. And, for a lot of people, I think standing there watching a band and quietly judging them isn't the most fun in the world. But also, since it's just me, I almost feel like I have to do something besides just play music to keep people's attention.
How do you engage an audience that's initially resistant?
I normally try to say the stupidest shit I possibly can. I try to make people realize they can dance however they want and they won't look half as stupid as me. So what's the point in holding back?
What song gets the best reaction?
That definitely depends on if the crowd already knows my music or not. It's normally either "Cheerleaders vs. Drillteam" or "Casual Satisfaction."
So where's the line between something that's a gimmick or joke and the genuine part of your music?
I think all my songs are pretty different, and some are obviously just fun party songs, whereas others definitely have a lot more meaning behind them. I wouldn't really call any of my songs gimmicky. But that might just be because gimmicky sounds bad.
Is there anything you used to do during shows that just isn't funny anymore?
Oh, man. If you've seen me play a few times, you know I've been using the same jokes for years. Check this one out. "Knock Knock." "Who's there?" "I eat mop." "I eat mop who?" Ha Ha Ha! But yeah, I've definitely chilled out on some stuff. Like costumes. I used to wear a real sexy bee suit, but I stopped.
Are you still glad you chose "Totally Michael" as your name?
No way. Not glad at all. I'm at the point now where I've toured under the name for years, and now I have my first full length out and there's no going back. I'm stuck with it. It sucks. Totally bummed out.
Do you want to start a rumor about yourself?
Do rumors have to be bad? How about this: My real name is Brad Pitt. I'm married to Angelina Jolie. She's hot and we have hella kids together. If you want to kick back and have a few brews with me, I'll be playing shows under the name Totally Michael. Come check me out.
What is it exactly about Blink-182 that you admire so much?
First of all, their music. They wrote amazingly catchy melodies. Great pop songs. Second of all, their ability to write humorous songs and tell dick jokes and not be considered a complete joke. Third of all, the fact that they played arenas, and they still told dick jokes to thousands of little boys and girls who were all there with their parents. I think that's awesome.
What would you do to get them to reunite?
I don't really know if I could do anything to get them to reunite, but if you mean like, what's some crazy stuff I'd do, I'd probably eat some poop. Yeah. I'd definitely eat some poop if it meant they'd get back together.
What is something you think people should know about you that they might not expect?
Like two or three months out of the year I get addicted to World of Warcraft. And when I do, I average 13 hours a day on it. Wait, crap. That's something I don't really want people to know. Oops.
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