Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Interview: Mike Park

Mike Park: musician, activist, record label owner, wedding officiator, father of new little girl, husband, and–most importantly–a downright decent dude. I’m probably leaving something out but regardless, that’s a heck of a resume. We recently had the opportunity chat it up with this righteous dude – check it:

You have recently taken a break from touring due to the birth of your daughter, Maggie. How is she and how has having a child impacted your writing, if it has at all?
It's been a wonderful experience thus far. I realize I'm at the honeymoon stage of child rearing, but hey it's been awesome so far. I've been writing silly songs, singing them to her. Songs about zoo animals and smiley faces. Not sure if I'll ever record them, but who knows? Maybe a children’s album is inevitable.

It seems that as an effect to you taking a little break from touring and whatnot, you've started a push towards picking up more artists. Please give us a little rundown on the new Asian Man artists.
Maybe, but definitely not consciously. I have a ton of music coming out:
-the remainder of the QUEERS re-releases (8 albums total)

As other "indies" have tried to expand and get bigger, you've consistently kept to a smaller operation. What are the biggest advantages this has on the artists on your label and to the livelihood of Asian Man Records?
I don't know if there are any advantages for the artists. I don't do a good job at promoting them at all, but I'm really up front about this fact from the beginning, so they know what they're getting into. It's made the working relationship very open and friendly. People on the outside would ask: why would any band want to work with you under these circumstances? My answer: I have no idea?? I'm puzzled myself.

I've heard you comment on the state of the music industry. CD sales are obviously down. Does this impact the indies as much as it does the huge companies?
I can't say for certain, but I would think not. But first of all, what exactly is an indie record label? Is Drive Thru, Victory, Fueled By Ramen an indie? Compared to Plan-It-X, Very Small Records, or Asian Man. It's hard to say these names in the same breath as an indie. Regardless, I think CD sales are down for everyone and effects them equally, but hurts the bigger companies because hey...let's face it, they’re driven by numbers, money, and success.

You've dedicated alot of time and energy to your Plea For Peace foundation. I understand that you have big things planned for the future. Please tell me a little about what's in store and maybe even shed some light on what you've been doing over the past year or two with the foundation.
Geez, I could write a novel about the trials and tribulations regarding PFP. Basically, San Jose sucks. It's expensive and unaccommodating towards what we are trying to achieve which is a youth based music venue. We've raised $60,000 so far, but this is chump change in this part of the US. Without proper funding we'd be out of business in 6 months. We're trying to learn more about grant proposals, city assistance, etc.. But it's been an uphill battle. And we are smack dab in the middle of going full board with this.

I know you're a huge Oakland A's fan. Have you read Moneyball? If so, is it a stretch to draw comparisons from how you run Asian Man and how Billy Beane runs the A's?
Of course. I'm all about Moneyball. I never thought about the comparisons, but yeah…I can see Moneyball in the Asian Man philosophy.

I'm going to list a few different bands. If you could, share some of your favorite memories/moments with each band:

Slapstick: young midwest kids having too much manic panic in their lives

Angelo Moore: Genius front man, singer, musician, dancer, poet, and overall nice guy

Alkaline Trio: Helped shape an entire generation of punk. Will be regarded as a historic band in future years.

Blue Meanies: Musical prodigies playing hybrid SKA. Taking the sound to new levels.

MU330: The most underrated band in the history of punk/ska whatever you want to call it.....music.

What Asian Man release have you found yourself listening to the most over
the past 10 years?

Alkaline Trio - Goddamnit. Hands down the most listened to record on Asian Man by me.

If you could pick one album you released that you felt was criminally under-appreciated, what would it be?
Polysics – Hey, My Friend Bob.

Buy Mike Park's albums. Read his fun blog. Check out his record label. Support Plea For Peace.

***This interview is also featured in issue #10 of Dudes Magazine.


meg. c said...

this whole article made me smile - both in dude's mag and again when i just read it. i think mp is an awesome dude and am glad i got to support plea for peace (i mean granted it also meant i was seeing lawrence arms, blue meanies, alkaline trio, honor system, mu330 and mike park at one show - two nights in a row!)

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