Mike Tramp released his latest solo album, entitled “Nomad”, on 28th August. He has also just kicked off yet another tour that sees him return to the Diamond Rock Club in Ahoghill for the fourth time on Saturday 12th September. “Nomad” is the third solo release from Tramp in as many years and he has supported these releases with an intense touring schedule through-out Europe and the USA. Whilst he may have risen to fame with White Lion, and will always be associated with that band, Mike Tramp is determined to show the world that there is much more to him than that. Anyone who has seen him perform recently or bought the solo albums will already know that.
I spoke to Mike by phone at his home in Denmark on 1 September. This interview appeared on the Friday NI Rocks Show that was broadcast on 4th September. The show is now available on our MixCloud page -
The interview is transcribed below.
Read the NI Rocks recommendation for “Nomad” here - http://www.rockradioni.co.uk/back-stage/music-reviews/2187-ni-rocks-recommends-qnomadq-by-mike-tramp.html
NI ROCKS – Hi Mike, thanks for taking some time to talk to Rock Radio NI.
MIKE – My pleasure, I’m looking forward to it.
NI ROCKS - I was wanting to talk to you about your new album “Nomad” and to play a few tracks ahead of your show here in the Diamond Rock Club in Ahoghill on 12th September. The new album “Nomad” was released on 28th August. You’ve stated that it is the completion of a trilogy. In what sense?
MIKE – Well, these are three albums completed over three years. One album has been done each year and followed by a world tour by myself. This last tour which is about to kick off now will mostly be with a full band. From the first album up-until “Nomad”, which is the final of the trilogy, there has been a natural growth within the song-writing and for the artist looking back it’s clear to me that without the first album, the two others wouldn’t have existed and somehow they all intertwine into one. They kinda support each other in the climb back to stating the sound and the artist that I am with these three albums. It’s giving people a lot of music within a short time period just to bead in their head that this is who I am and that Mike Tramp is supposed to be reviewed and listened to as Mike Tramp, not as something formerly of something else.
NI ROCKS – Where was the album recorded and who is playing on the album along with you?
MIKE – Since we’re talking about the trilogy, all three albums have been recorded in the neighbourhood where I was born in Copenhagen, Denmark in the same studio with the same co-producer and engineer Soren Andersen. He’s a multi-musician, who especially on the first two albums played a lot of different instruments. On the final album it’s a full band with drums, bass and guitar. We’ve just let it grow.
NI ROCKS – You’re touring with a band this time. Are the same guys on tour with you as played on the album?
MIKE – No the tour is a little bit more about a Mike Tramp show than it is a full support of the album. I’m aware that I’m coming around and entertaining people and taking them all the way back to the beginning, dipping into memory lane here and there. So the guys who are playing on the album are more studio musicians who prefer to be back in Denmark and don’t really fit into the band that I have live. I’m actually bringing a young Danish band called Lucer, a trio who work both as support band and my band. We travel together and that has made it possible for me in today’s age to tour with a band.
NI ROCKS – This will be your fourth time in the Diamond Rock Club, but the first with a full band behind you. What can the audience expect this time around?
MIKE – I’m sure they won’t walk out of there disappointed. As I said, this is my fourth tour since I started the trilogy and the last three have been just myself solo, so in many ways it’s me giving a little bit back to the fans who may be standing there expecting almost the same thing, even though there’s new songs involved as there has been on the last couple of tours. This time I give them the full band version. A good rock ‘n’ roll show with a mixture of all my albums in the live set.
NI ROCKS – The last three years have been an almost constant cycle of recording and touring starting with “Cobblestone Street” in 2013. How much of that journey was planned or is that just the way it has developed?
MIKE – Definitely none of it was planned. As I was recording the first album in 2012, I said to myself after the album is completed what would happen if I went out on the road with just a guitar and I did that. Then the album came out and I went out on the road again and then a new album and out on the road again. One thing just led to another and it just felt natural. I followed the natural progression all the way and never forced anything that wasn’t meant to be. So I just followed the natural thing.
NI ROCKS – We’re going to play a track from “Nomad” now. Can you pick a track and tell us a little bit about it.
MIKE – I’d like to open up with the opening track on the album which is called “Give It All You Got”.
NI ROCKS – You’ve completed three solo tours of the USA in three years, playing around 50 shows on each tour. How much has that influenced the writing of the tracks on “Museum” and “Nomad”?
MIKE – You know, I hate to say it, but I haven’t really been influenced by touring. It’s something that just comes when I’m in a particular mood. After I came back from the “Museum” tour last year I hadn’t planned on doing a new album and I hadn’t necessarily planned on writing songs. Then I went out to my music room and I hadn’t been playing electric guitar for quite a while and I plugged the electric guitar into an amp and was just playing a little bit and within five or ten minutes it came to me. I started writing and writing and before that first night was over I had three songs down and I started thinking - Wow! Where are they coming from? And the following night I went out and just kept going with it and within a week or ten days I had the ten songs that I wanted. Then I started working a little bit in detail and at that time it was clear to me – you’re doing a full band album, it’s calling for it.
NI ROCKS – Earlier this year you played a few shows in Russia. What were your personal experiences of the music scene in that country?
MIKE – It’s always great when you can go to new places, but the thing that is even better is when you walk out on stage and see the audience respond. The world is one place when it comes to music. The fans are the same around the world. Take the language barrier away and rock ‘n’ roll fans are one of a kind.
NI ROCKS – You’ve played numerous shows in many countries and on cruise ships over the last few years. Have you any personal highlights from that musical journey?
MIKE – That musical journey I have done completely by myself, so there is a lot of thinking time. You just have to get through it because there are many hours in the day and you sometimes feel like turning the car around and going home. Sometimes it’s a matter of just keep driving. It just balances itself out. There’s a lot of thinking going on, worrying and analysing. I’m a father to three children and a husband and I’m also a rock ‘n’ roll musician who has a 40th anniversary next year. With all these things it’s all about only doing what I want to do. I’m not doing anything that doesn’t feel right. I make sure that when I walk off stage that I’m completely satisfied and not just out there doing something just by motion.
NI ROCKS – Did you encounter many problems along the way?
MIKE – No there were very few problems, because there was only me and I got my stuff down really well. It’s a well oiled machine. I know what to do and at the same time I have an enormous amount of freedom to go up on stage and take the set any way that I want and pull out any song that I feel like playing at that time regardless of any set-list.
NI ROCKS – There’s been a lot written and said recently about rock n roll being dead or whatever. Clearly the music business has changed dramatically since the 80’s, in particular the way people listen to music, though vinyl seems to be having a bit of a revival at the minute. What are your own feelings about the state of rock music and the music business?
MIKE – When you look at it from an industrial side and the physical business part of it there is no doubt that it has taken a massive blow and gone through a massive change at the same time. The rock ‘n’ roll audience that were teenagers when we started are now grown up and have families etc etc. Along came the digital world and the internet etc. Some people are choosing the easy way out and the way that they want to listen to music is on a phone on the way to work; not having a full book shelf of CDs or vinyls. Others decide that it is still very important for them to hold on to the magic of what it is like to buy physical music and go through the experience of opening a cd or vinyl and take the time to listen to it.
At the same time, bands have gotten older, broken up, bands have reunited, some people can’t do it the same. I think sometimes that rock ‘n’ roll is flourishing but at the same time there is also a lot of artists who aren’t producing great music or not really adapting or changing to the changing world without going extreme. I’m not out there being Mike Tramp, 27 years old in 1987! I’m out there on stage playing some of the old songs, but in a way that feels in time with the man who stands on the stage with his age and the life that he has lived. I’m not going out there with Kiss make-up and hiding behind a character.
NI ROCKS – We’ll play another track from “Nomad” now. Again can you pick a track and tell us a little about it?
MIKE – This one is called “High Like A Mountain” and it is one of those tracks that I feel separates myself from a lot of my colleagues from the 80s.
NI ROCKS – You’ve just released a video for “Give It All You’ve Got” that features you working on an old motorbike. Firstly, are the bikes shown your own? And secondly, are there plans for further videos from the “Nomad” album?
MIKE – These days when we do videos it’s on a whole different budget than it was in the old days when we were spending hundreds of thousands dollars. Now you find a friend with a camera who can do a little bit of editing on a computer and you’re grateful. The Royal Enfield in the video is actually the camera man and directors. He just happened to have the perfect garage to do it in. We really just wanted to go with something that felt natural to the whole thing. When or if we do another video on down the road, I really just want Mike Tramp to represent something pure but at the same time something simple and very real. Then when you feel that you need something wild and crazy you can go somewhere else. I want Mike Tramp to represent something comfortable and at the same time that is who I am.
NI ROCKS – The current tour dates shown on your website take you into October with a few in November. Are there likely to be more dates to promote the release of “Nomad” and are you likely to return to the USA again?
MIKE – Well, the touring is an ongoing thing. We’re just going to get into the new year and then I will start playing again. It’s sorta just what I do and I try to make it fit as much into my personal life as possible; as a father and family man, even though there hasn’t been a lot of that recently. I will be touring all through next year. I’m not sure at this moment if I’ll be doing that large American tour. Probably we’ll be doing quite a lot of European touring next year.
NI ROCKS – I’m not going to ask any direct White Lion questions. I think you’ve more than answered everything that could ever be asked. So looking forward, what can we expect from Mike Tramp over the next few years?
MIKE – As I mentioned earlier, I’d like, within my ability, to create a comfort zone for when you feel like hearing something that may be a little different, but still has the connections to all the stuff that you love. This is like one of the spices in the spice rack. You have the common spices in the first row that you basically use every day. I like to be on the second or third shelf; where, when you go for that it is because you specifically want to get that feeling. That in many ways is why I call myself the one who has moved on.
NI ROCKS – You mentioned earlier that next year will be your 40th anniversary in the music business. Are you planning anything specific around that?
MIKE – Well of course the 40th anniversary is of when I started in Denmark in ’76. You never know. There is still a limit to how much I can do but we could definitely be doing something a little more specific for the fans. These days, things are more about the limited, dedicated fan. The fans become smaller but they like to go a little more deeper. It’s great to know that you could go out and do an album or special thing that is maybe only going to be 500 copies or something like that.
NI ROCKS – Musically, what are you listening to yourself these days? Do you get much time to listen to anything else and what would you recommend?
MIKE – I will be honest and tell you there are very few new bands or artists that even capture my interest. That is both sad, but at the same time true. I just like to listen to a lot of the earlier stuff that I grew up on, when I was almost too young to understand it. I grew up in a house that was heavily into Bob Dylan and stuff like that. These days it’s about going back and finding boot-legs and early recordings and a lot of stuff like that. I sometimes find it interesting that a guy who was such a huge hard rock fan of Iron Maiden, Saxon, Van Halen, AC/DC and my overall favourite bands Queen, Thin Lizzy and Slade now sits and listens to Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, a lot of Springsteen; especially the unplugged raw stuff. I feel that I’ve had my dose of big guitars and stuff like that. Whenever I feel the need for that I will go for one of the big classic albums – Black Sabbath’s “Heaven & Hell”, Rainbow “Rising” – I can’t go for anything new. I don’t feel personally that any of the new bands appeal to me. They are too young and their message is not for me. I grew up with the pillars and foundations of rock ‘n’ roll and nothing can touch that.
NI ROCKS – Thanks again for talking to Rock Radio NI. We’ll finish off with another track from “Nomad”. Which one and tell us a little about it?
MIKE – First of all, thank you very much for having Mike Tramp as a guest and I’d like to go out on “Don’t Want to Wait Till Forever”.
For more information check out http://miketramp.dk/home
Playlist for the Friday NI Rocks Show on 4th Sept.
GASOLINE OUTLAWS – Heart & Soul
MIKE TRAMP – Counting The Hours
Interview with Mike Tramp – Part 1 (5.5 min)
MIKE TRAMP – Give It All You Got
Interview with Mike Tramp – Part 2 (7 min)
MIKE TRAMP - High Like A Mountain
Interview with Mike Tramp – Part 3 (6.5 min)
MIKE TRAMP – Wait Till Forever
BLACKWATER CONSPIRACY – Penny For Your Dirty Mind
LA GUNS – Sex Action
Interview with Tracii Guns – Part 1 (9.5 min)
DEVIL CITY ANGELS - Boneyard
Interview with Tracii Guns – Part 2 (8.5 min)
TRACII GUNS’ LEAGUE OF GENTLEMEN – White Rabbit
Interview with Tracii Guns – Part 3 (7.5 min)
TURBONEGRO – The Age of Pamparius
BRIDES OF DESTRUCTION – I Don’t Care
LED ZEPPELIN – Communication Breakdown
LIFELINE – Jezebel
SCREAMING EAGLES – Ready for the Fall