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, determination?
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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