Houston Calling

10 Questions for What Made Milwaukee Famous

April 25th, 2005 · No Comments

Last year, I discovered a great band from Austin called What Made Milwaukee Famous. Their CD, Trying To Never Catch Up, is one of the best albums I heard last year. I highly suggest you check it out.

I just found out that the band is going to be in Houston at Rudyard’s this Friday night, April 29th. Be sure to support Texas music and come out to see the band.

I asked What Made Milwaukee Famous’ guitarist/vocalist Michael Kingcaid a few questions — he was happy to answer a few questions for Houston Calling. Enjoy.

Ten Questions for What Made Milwaukee Famous

HC: How did What Made Milwaukee Famous get started?

MK: I placed a series of ads in the Austin Chronicle referencing particular artists for each instrument (i.e. Drums: Bonham, Stuart Copeland, Ginger Baker, Matt Cameron; Keys: the Shins, Brendan Benson, Radiohead; Bass: Elliott Smith, Spoon, etc.) Drew, John, & Josh were some of the first ones to respond and things seemed to mesh pretty easily. So…

HC: What do you consider to be your musical influences?

MK: I’ve never been much of a silly music guy. There’s still some stuff out there that’s rather non-serious in nature, that’s absolutely amazing like Beefheart and Ween and such. But, usually the songs and artists that tend to influence me the most are one’s that have songs that set moods really well. Radiohead is at the forefront of everything for me, right now. Also, the Constantines are my love as of late. Drew really encompasses the poppier element and stuff of that nature. I know that he really likes the Flaming Lips and Jason Falkner. John loves Fugazi and NoMeansNo and Mission of Burma. Josh is a sponge for all of our whims, but also loves jazz and fusion and pretty much everything else. It’s pretty awesome because I feel like we’re always learning about new stuff from each other and the possibilities are endless, as long as we stay open-minded about it.

HC: How would you best describe your music to someone who’s never heard it?

MK: I think that the most truthful way to promote our music is to tell people that they’ll at least find something that they love about it.

HC: How has the music scene in Austin played a part in your band’s development? Do you find it difficult to find success outside of your home turf? What’s your favorite bar/club in Austin? What is the band’s approach for getting gigs in other Texas cities?

MK: Austin’s great in that it’s so easy to find someone to play with. They might not always necessarily be the right person to play with, though. We were just lucky. And there are so many places to play that we’ve never been too hard up for a show; there’s always been something to choose from.

I think that we’re actually doing really well all around the country right now, too. We had a guy from Honolulu buy our CD online the other day and we got some decent airplay and charted on a handful of stations across the US. It’s just a matter of getting in front of those people now for shows. Hopefully, we can take care of that really soon. We probably haven’t even played our favorite places to play in Austin just yet (aka Stubb’s outside), but we love the sound at the Parish and we always love to play Emo’s. We haven’t yet found an approach that works for getting shows in Houston, but we’d love to. Dallas and Denton just seem to come in spurts. Am I allowed to say that?

HC: What’s your take on the state of the music industry? Are you for or against the MP3 “revolution”? How are you using the internet as a tool to market yourself?

MK: I really used to be against the whole free downloading thing. In hindsight, I wish that I would have been a little more open to it from the get-go. Buying as many albums as I do, I always judged success by the number of albums sold and naively thought that’s where the money had to come from. But, especially without the help of a label, you sometimes have to use some guerilla tactics to get your music in front of people. And in order to do that to the best of your ability, you have to be willing to use whatever tools are at your disposal to get things accomplished. Right now, I think that the MP3 and the internet (in general) are essential tools for getting your music in front of the kind of audience that we all want: a big one.

HC: Tell me about your album, Trying To Never Catch Up–who produced it, where was it recorded, etc.? The few times I’ve been with musician friends in the studio, it’s been an unglamourous thing–very repetitive and annoying. Do you have any good studio stories?

MK: We do have one good studio story about when Josh almost burned down the Echo Lab in Denton by putting an un-extinguished cigarette butt in a ashtray bucket. We’re going to try to save that for an upcoming, ongoing journal feature called, “Did We Ever Tell You About the Time Josh…” So, stay tuned. I actually love being in the studio. I think that the Beatles did an awesome thing when they just started doing studio albums, instead of touring. It can be really repetitive, but it kind of takes that kind of commitment to get down exactly the tracks that you want. It’s hard enough translating what you have in your head to your fingers, much less to tape. Drew and I produced the album and recorded it mostly at my house and some at the (still-standing) Echo Lab. We’re both pretty meticulous about things, so the redundant nature of recording doesn’t really get to us that much.

HC: If you could have any band cover one of your songs, what song would it be and what band?

MK: Uh…yes. We would like that thank you. Any and all. Thanks.

HC: What is the one description that you hate to hear about your music?

MK: That it’s too diverse. One of my biggest peeves is closed-mindedness. We’d love to tackle a little bit of everything in music and as long as we release a body of work that’s cohesive unto itself, I think that there’s no such thing as covering too much ground.

HC: What’s next for What Made Milwaukee Famous?

MK: Well, we just finished our first video. We may try to do one more, depending on how much time we have. We’ll probably try to go on a couple more tours…and then get back into the studio as soon as possible after that.

HC: What is in your CD player right now?

MK: I cannot stop listening to The Arcade Fire. It’s ridiculously infectious. The new Richard Buckner is excellent, too.

Thanks to Michael for taking the time to answer these questions. Be sure to make it out to Rudyard’s this Friday night (April 29th) to catch What Made Milwaukee Famous live. I also suggest buying their CD — it’s great.

Now Playing in My iPod: TremulousMonk — Sparkle Like Your Shoes

Tags: Music