Michael Lee Firkins Interview
Michael Lee Firkins debut album on Shrapnel Records has people talking. They're
saying within two years he will be recognized as one of rock's top guitarists.
Q - Michael, do you ever wonder what would have happened
to you, if Mike Varney (founder of Shrapnel Records) had not signed you to
his label? How would your life be different?
A - Well, I probably would've tried somebody else. He was the only person I
sent a tape to. It was good in a way, because it kept the confusion down. It
was the first time I ever sent a tape to anybody. If anybody else had asked
me (to sign a record contract) I probably would've gotten pretty confused.
I'm kind of glad it ended up the way it did though. I probably would've tried
to get on somebody else's label, and if I didn't, it wouldn't really matter,
'cause I just like to play guitar anyway. Whether anyone hears me or not, I
just have fun doing it.
Q - What made you send a demo to Mike Varney?
A - He's got an ad in Guitar Player (magazine), that you send tapes into. I
figured that's a lot different from a record co. You always hear the story
about a record co. not listening to your tape, and I figured he would listen
to it, so that's probably why I sent it.
Q - The guys who helped you out on the album - what
are they doing these days?
A - Well, the bass player from Dokken, Jeff Pilson, has got his own band, and
he's the lead singer. He doesn't play bass anymore. James (Kottak - drummer)
just got signed with Geffen, I think, with a band he formed.
Q - And how about the musicians on the demo tape, what
are they doing?
A - The drummer, he's a real genius musician. He plays like everything.
He's such a good guitar player, that he doesn’t want to play drums anymore.
He's probably the smartest musician I know. He's just hanging out, making
tapes of his own. I played the bass on the tape, so it was just me and him.
Q - You were playing clubs, and then you quit to concentrate
on making a good demo tape. How did you support yourself?
A - Just taught guitar. I did a lot of teaching. I did telemarketing which
is what I first started doing when I came off the road. I did that for about
a year and a half. Then, I taught for a couple more years.
Q - Can you tour to support this album of yours?
A- I’ve got a couple of guys around town that'll help me out if I have
a gig come up. But, no one has really said a tour is possible, yet, and I don't
really think one is possible yet, either.
Q - Michael, are you successful because of your guitar
playing, or is there something else at work here? Is it your drive, persistence,
A -I don't know. I don't consider myself successful yet. I like to play a lot.
I really think the guitar playing comes first. A lot of guys are too caught
up in trying to copy people. I've always tried to sound as much like myself
as I can.
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