Review Fix chats with Michael Mesey about his origin in music, creative process and new single, “Together.”
About Michael Mesey and American Greed:
As the go-to special show and traveling drummer for Chuck Berry for many years, Michael Mesey had a blast creating explosive moments on stage with the legendary musical pioneer all over the country. Yet one of his most cherished memories is a moment on a tour bus, when Berry was listening to a blues tune, turned to him and said, “This is how I want us to play the blues – because when it’s time to rock, you rock me. No, I mean, you REALLY rock me!”
While transcendent, pinch me moments like these have happened throughout the St. Louis native’s multi-faceted 40 years as a writing, recording and touring musician, Mesey also knows a little something about the darker side of the life he chose – spending long stretches on the road, spending weeks at a time and holidays apart from beloved family members (including his daughter as she was growing up) while blazing away in the service of rock and roll. A few years ago, when he wrote “Together” for his hard rockin’ band American Greed, he never dreamed that the poignant powerhouse of a song – reflecting the personal heartache and longing of the road warrior musician – would become a universal anthem perfectly meeting our anxious collective moment during the age of COVID-19.
Review Fix: How did you get involved in music?
Michael Mesey: I knew as a kid that I wanted to be involved in music one way or another. I wanted to be a drummer and grow up to be a Rock Star, Period. As I was growing up and starting to hear more and more rock n roll music I put a band together and we played for my sisters basement party, Of course she invited all of her girlfriends. That was it, everything in my life from that point on was about playing, and trying to put myself in the presence of anyone and everyone that I could to move forward with performing, recording and eventually writing songs.
Review Fix: What’s your creative process like?
Mesey: My creativity comes from everyday experiences, my thoughts, things that make me happy or sad or angry. I constantly write down little thoughts or ideas. Some I move forward on and some get left on the table. As a drummer I’ve had to find the few guitarists, vocalists that I could take an Idea to that understood what the hell I was trying to get across, and I did find a few. This is one of the reasons I am so proud of these tunes especially “TOGETHER” because it really was very special to me. I first brought this to Matt Arana and we sat in my front room with an acoustic guitar with the words I had and literally put it together. I asked Matt if he thought Dave Farver would be interested in recording some songs and that was the beginning of American Greed. Dave was amazing at taking a line or two, or a chorus I had and putting a complete story together. The three of us basically brought a few of our individual songs we had written and developed the rest together. The combination of our different styles is what made these songs so unique. Then you add the solidness of Bob Guion on Bass and there it is.
Review Fix: What inspires you?
Mesey: I am inspired by everything. As I grew up listening to music, It inspired me but I never really had anyone that I followed. I just did my own thing, even though a lot of people compared me to Ginger Baker of Cream. Of course what an honor it was to me to hear that. I was really more inspired by guitar players, Drumming with them. To be able to just close your eyes and jam. Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Ronnie Montrose, Deep Purple, Uriah Heep… These are what I grew up on.
Review Fix: What does music mean to you?
Mesey: Music to me is everything, Music makes the world go round. I feel it, I hear it and it makes me a happier person. I get crabby when I’m not playing or traveling. So everything.
Review Fix: How would you describe your sound to someone who has never heard you?
Mesey: I cannot explain the sound of our music, but our influences I’m sure mesh together on different songs.
Review Fix: How are your live shows different from your studio work?
Mesey: I really like performing and recording. So I like to try and have that live flavor in the songs I record and in our songs.
Review Fix: What makes “Together” a special song?
Mesey: “Together” came to me over my whole life. It was how I felt about being away during the times traveling and performing. How it effected different relationships, and being away from my daughter at different times because I raised her with help from my parents and we kind of grew up together because I was so young when she was born. I felt it told the story of everyone that was away from a loved one for whatever reason. For Military families, Truck drivers, Doctor’s, Nurses, or anyone that traveled for work. And of course now, we all have someone we miss, that’s home alone or is on the front lines keeping us safe or someone we have lost. From the beginning of writing this song it has personal meaning for me and I believe everyone around the world. I truly believe in my heart that it is the rock song/ rock ballad of the times we’re living in.
Review Fix: It’s gotten a nice bit of traffic on Spotify. How does that feel?
Mesey: We have felt very humbled by the attention “Together” is receiving around the world on Spotify, YouTube and airplay. It’s been amazing to see hopefully that people are feeling the meaning the song for each other, and themselves. It makes me feel great because it has so much meaning to myself and the band.
Review Fix: How had COVID affected music?
Mesey: I think it’s unbelievable how much Covid has effected everything and everyone in the world and especially every aspect of the music business. This was the reason to release the Single and music Video at this time. Again I truly believe in my heart that “Together” is the song/ballad of the times we are living in as Individuals, couples, families, communities in America and around the world. That may sound a little corny to some but it is how I feel.
Review Fix: What are your goals for the rest of 2020 and 2021?
Mesey: Hopefully we will head into 2021 with everyone coming together, healing together so American and the world can open back up safely and get music back into the world. I hope that we can be a part of that with our music. Music does make the world go around and American Greed want’s to be there performing.
Review Fix: What’s next?
Mesey: We are ready to rock the world, my dream. I have played with some of the greatest artists in music, and played shows all over the country. The next part of the dream is hopefully to bring American Greed “The music and the live show” to the world. That is the ultimate dream for me.
Review Fix: Anything else you’d like to add?
Mesey: We just want to thank everyone for your support in helping us get to this point, What a great experience for us as a band.