As a kid, my parents had me playing piano. I think that I actually could read music before I could read books! I was playing piano at the age of like 3 or 4? All classical. By the time I was 6, I was going to summer camp at Interlochen (which is a really amazing music school that also has summer camps definitely look it up). That's where I learned discipline. They had tons of little cabins with enough room for a piano and everyday you'd have at least 4 hours of practice in those cabins. Running scales, playing songs over and over. Super fun for a kid! They also had a situation where you came for your main instrument but wanted you to learn other instruments while you were there. During my summers there, I learned how to play the flute, piccolo, oboe, clarinet and of course, how to sing. Looking back on it, it's kinda like that movie "Whiplash" but with little kids. I didn't get intoplayig rock and roll until my 20's. My friend Steve Shaw, who was in the first incarnation of the Detroit Cobras asked if I had ever considered playing bass. I got a 64 Fender musicmaster bass and sat down with another friend of mine, Steve Nawara (who also coincidentally had gone to Interlochen as a child) and we had one bass lesson, where he thought me how to play with my fingers, not a pick. From there, I started listening to James Jamerson (bass player for Motown) and really wanted to play like him. At that point, his bass lines were way too hard so I tried to play along with other songs. The first song I mastered on bass was "Green Onions" by Booker T and the MGs.
Who are your inspirations or influences?
Definitely bass wise my hero is James Jamerson. He was the GOAT when it comes to bass players. As I moved from the bass to the baritone guitar, it became less of influences as people and more of influences of sounds. I LOVE the old 60's fuzz sound and I've been lucky enough to find pedals that are either from that era or do a good job recreating that sound. I'm very inspired by the Detroit music scene, going way back and also my contemporaries. I feel so lucky to have grown up in a city with such a rich history, from the blues, R&B, rock &roll, punk, techno, hip hop...
What advice would you offer aspiring performers?
I guess just believe in yourself. Get a lawyer so if and when the time comes that you start getting popular, you will have control over your music. That's so important. I didn't really know anything about that when I was starting Ko & the Knockouts and there's plenty of deals that we definitely got the short end of the stick.
How do you set yourselves apart from other bands or singers?
That's really tough for me to answer. I feel like I got into the Rock&Roll game so much later than alot of other people. I never really envisioned myself as being a lead singer but Long Gone John from Sympathy for the Record Industry and later Little Steven had real faith in me when I didn't. Eddie Baranek (guitarist and co-songwriter for Ko & the Knockouts) was such a huge influence. When we did that album, he was so young, and younger than me. But we sat down and just churned out songs. It was like it was meant to be. He really helped with my self confidence and I'll always love him for that.
Any new gigs or albums in the future?
You'll just have to wait and see! I've taken such a long break from Ko & the Knockouts to play with the Dirtbombs and I've got some side projects brewing. I'm hoping to get back to it sooner than later.