Lead by singer/songwriter Scott Mickelson, Bay Area band FAT OPIE continues to reinvent what can be termed “Americana”. From the modern, electrified dynamics of their third release Airstream to the all acoustic, live-performance record Otis, FAT OPIE continues to paint both musical and lyrical portraits of contemporary life as an American.
1.)What does Fat Opie have lined up for this fall?
I have about a dozen local shows slated through mid-January. Some solo and some with FAT OPIE. Of course you know about the “FAT OPIE/Jay Trainer Band/Fleeting Trance” gig at the Starry Plough on Saturday, November 3rd. A portion of the proceeds will go to ArtfulChange. After that I plan to tour the North East for the first time since I left Massachusetts years ago. I’m starting to produce artists again and I’m also working on my next CD.
2.) Tell us a little bit about your recent CD release show.
I’ve never been more excited about a show. Really. Dave Tavel (drummer), Robin Hildebrant (bass) and I have been playing together for 19 years. It’s pretty unbelievable. We’ve had other guitarists but we have always been intact. I honestly never thought we’d have another record and “Victoryville” almost ended the band but yet here we are with a release party and a fifth CD. We were truly lucky that such great local artists (Tom Rhodes, Alex Jimenez, Reem Regina Tatar) were willing to put in the time to learn the songs and join us. Years ago I would have wanted a ton of rehearsals to make it perfect but our attitude now is to just keep it fresh and fun, glitches and all. Also you (Jay Trainer) will be jammed on “Monster In The Room” and Christian L. Behrens (from Roem Baur band) came up for a new song called “Flickering”. We videotaped the whole thing and hopefully caught a couple of good moments. And, of course Mana Maddy started the show at 6:00PM, then Kofy Brown performed at 7:00PM. Both extremely talented artists.
3.) How long have you all been playing music?
As I mentioned 19 years. We have had a long and eventful history. At one point we were managed by Lookout Mgmt (Neil Young,) and poised to be on Neil’s label. There was talk of a Lollapalooza side stage tour. We also won a national bandsearch sponsored by MTV/7-UP and other kinds of colorful tidbits. Then I got really sick at around 2003 and stopped music completely until around 2009. Thanks to the loving support and understanding of Robin and Dave I got the desire back and and started recording then writing and finally performing in 2010.
4.) What is your favorite thing about playing music in the Bay Area?
Well there is absolutely a real musical community in this town again. I see a lot of artists supporting one another much more than years ago, at least in my experience. The acoustic scene is definitely happening and we can thank KC Turner, Seaweed Sway, Songbird Presents, Spirit Vibrations, Bazaar Cafe among others for that. I just think there’s music thriving here. I’m excited to be producing some good local artists and being involved however I can.
5.) What do you like least about playing music in the Bay Area?
Parking. Also, too many non-paying gigs. I still believe that people are willing to pay a couple of bucks to see good music. I suppose it would be nice to see the town rocking again. I don’t see much of a rock scene aside from the top venues. There was a time when there were four rock clubs on Haight Street alone.
6.) What advice do you have for local musicians trying to get started in the Bay Area?
Get out and play an open mic everyday of the week. It’s possible. This will lead into other opportunities. Try not to get too distracted by everyone around you. There are a zillion good artists in the Bay Area so just focus on honing your own craft.
7.) What was the last song you were listening to today and why?
Radiohead “Weird Fishes”. It’s been in my car practically since “In Rainbows” it came out.