In April of 2013 I went on my first major tour with Reagan Youth where I met Mike Defendant. He was opening for the band in Louisville, Kentucky. This was where the Rustbelt Tour 2013 ended. We have since been in touch regarding music, touring, life, etc… more recently his solo debut “Iron Bars”, his involvement with Profane Existence, and life as a troubadour.
-By Trey Oswald
*Profane Existence: Tell us a little about yourself. What influenced you to start playing music? What bands did you play with before becoming a solo performer?
*Mike Defendant: I played hardcore until things just slowed down. I started a side project with a friend, played a few shows, then decided that I was not meant to jam with a full band. I wanna do way too much and the schedules and personal lives of others interfere.
*PE: What are your plans as a solo performer? Where do you think the songs and performances will be well-received?
*MD: My current plans as a solo performer are to keep doing what I am already doing – writing, gigging, touring, etc. I feel my songs will be best received in the south. From my experience, I learned that the southern punk scene is very accepting of acoustic openers, unlike other places.
*PE: Your album has a sense of optimism as the troubadour life awaits and home is far behind. Is there a sense of wanting to escape or a desire for experience in your writing?
*MD: Yeah. Haha, I really hate the place that I currently live. I put in too much work in a scene that lacks people and support. The few people who support what I’m doing back me to the fullest… but i can’t even get half of them to come to half the shows I play… But wait! RANCID comes to town and watch every punk drive an hour to see the show. Haha.
*PE: When did Profane Existence show interest in your world and how did that come about?
*MD: I have been a fan of P.E. for a while. I discovered In Defense through my buddies Reagan Youth. I saw ‘em on tour with The Casualties where I met Ben Crew (Vocalist of In Defense/Owner of PE). I gave him my info and a few months later saw them play with Toxic Holocaust. We chatted after the show and weeks later we were talkin’ about a release. The rest is history!
*PE: What inspires you to write songs? Lyrically and musically?
*MD: Life in general really… I just kinda go with the flow of how I feel.
*PE: Folk Punk seems to be the label used these daze. What drew you from electric to acoustic punk?
*MD: I wanted to progress on my own, but i still wanted to play punk… it just came out folky due to my blues and folk influences haha. i really enjoy Against Me! Evan Greer (the entire RIOT FOLK Movement) and anything that has to do with PAT THE BUNNY!
*PE: Do you feel a great deal of the bands who form in Ohio tend to leave and never come back or do they remain and reprazent the Buckeye State?
*MD: Some of ‘em kick it here. I’ll most likely be coming back after my tours and what not in the future. It’s a good place to live.. but not a good place for music. This does make it a little hard but I love my family too much. There are a few sweet bands around here though – Legbone, FBS, Sub X…
*PE: Not everyone is familiar with Ohio or the Midwest. Have you noticed a central hub for music in Ohio?
*MD: I would have to say a lot of good music comes out of the Columbus, Ohio area.
*PE: What are your feelings about the Midwest scene? Has it broken out to the coast and into the collective punk consciousness?
*MD: It seems alright although.. I really don’t have much support out this way. I want to relocate to the durty south very soon to play a few shows (if I have it my way).
*PE: Would you mind sharing a story from the road or an experience that has stuck with you as a vagabond musician?
*MD: When i went on the road with my old band (Some Kind Of Nightmare – LOOK EM UP!) we met another band in Arkansas (THE DEAD RANGERS). The venue screwed both bands out of a show. These guys wanted to do EVERYTHING in their power to assure us this was not a good representation of their punk rock scene. We were invited back to their place out in the sticks and got us a ton of beer. We played in their barn to a gang full of rowdy, redneck, punkers. They showed us such a good time! I also played an acoustic set and sold EVERY piece of merch that I had. If that already was not the best show I had been a part of… the next day they made us a homemade breakfast and invited us to hang around for lunch.
Those two days taught me that PUNK ROCK is a family and no matter where you go and there are people who will have your back. People I had never met before welcomed us in. Even though I was so far away from home, that night I felt reunited with old friends and family. It was an amazing feeling knowing that I would return the favor one day by hosting bands myself. Not just punk bands, but anyone!
*PE: OK, enough with the Circus Magazine questions. Time for the fun part.
*MD: Ahhhh Yeahhhh
*PE: Do you have any shout outs, name you want to drop, album releases, venues, bands, shows, etc. that you want to shamelessly mention?
MD: Shout to BEN CREW for putting out my noise and dealing with my lack of skill, Trey Oswald for letting me party at his house where I met Hank and some new friends. SHOUT OUT TO DA VILLE PUNX, OHIO RIOT, all the bands that stick around to watch my sets. A huge shout out to RANDY RAY PATTERSON, SOME KIND OF NIGHTMARE, AMY LYNN, INFESTED RECORDS. SHOUT OUT TO EVAN GREER, and anyone who I will tour with in the future. Last but not least my parents! (Verl and Shelly Wilson), and grandma (Sadie Kelsey)
-PROFANE EXISTENCE -CLAYTON USA -REAGAN YOUTH -THE CASUALTIES -GREEN JELLO
I probably forgot some important people… but they know I love em!
*PE: Tell us your favorite (Mike answers after each selection):
-Guitar player- Paul Cripple
-70s muscle car- Uhhhh… I really don’t know too much about cars but I like the one from Grease. Haha does that count?
-Beer/Liquor/other if you don’t consume alcohol- Uhhh I like alcohol… but… what really keeps me alive is WATER! Haha I am a big fan of some water but when it comes to booze? PBR or some kind of vodka.
-Discharge song- NEVER AGAIN!
-Favorite city/state to play- GREENVILLE, NC
-Favorite place to visit or party- NOLA!
-Best movie or documentary about punk- I really like “The Other F Word” a lot… or “American Hardcore”, “What we Do Is Secret” , “Slc Punk!” The list goes on… oh and if you don’t like “Rock N Roll High School” you can suck it.
-Best Anti-police song- Evan Greers, Children Song!
-Dystopian novel or story- What does that even mean?
-You have to pick one. Miley or Billy Ray Cyrus?- Hmm.. I have always been fascinated with horrible parenting and mullets.. so Billy (plus that achy breaky song is catchy- there I said it).
-Your most prized piece of rock memorabilia you have (t-shirt, record, ticket stub, zine, etc.)- Recently I had the opportunity to open for Glen Matlock (Sex Pistols) and he signed the flyer for the show.
-Words of hope (or hopelessness)- NEVER GIVE UP! NEVER GIVE IN! If you have a dream FIGHT for it. Be willing to put yourself in uncomfortable situations. Be willing to hit rock bottom. You will make it some day. Most importantly, remember when you feel like no one believes in you- MIKE DEFENDANT does! Hit me up! I want to listen to your band and wanna see you dreams come true!
LAST BUT NOT LEAST!!!
You will never fail until the day you stop trying! Stay positive! Stay true to yourself!
Mike Defendant’s tour info and music can be obtained at http://www.mikedefendant.org/
BONUS ALBUM REVIEW!!!
One More From The Road
Appropriately named “Iron Bars”, Mike Defendant plays acoustic punk, which is alive along with the folk spirit. Songs of pain have never sounded so hopeful, making the listener want to travel the world, using music as a vehicle. The theme of the album is escape, leaving home, heading into the unknown. However the singer is not running away, but searching for the unknown, ready for what awaits. Songs like “Afraid” tell of venturing out along the highways and the into the towns. He may be unsure but is confident because troubadour life is what he knows. Prepared for sorrow, pain, or even death, as Mike boldly states “I’ll have to pick me one last tune” writing his own Eulogy.
Venturing away from where he grew up is mentioned in “Iron Bars”, describing how there are only has two venues, behind bars or six feet below. There is certain sorrow in Mike’s music but unfolds as he has found a reason to live a fuller existence by escaping and opening his heart. “Nice Knowing You” Mike sings “is there a spot in his heart and will he still care”. Jaded but open he will soon find out as the listener can only assume. Maybe you can catch his guitar playing the perfect riffs as Mike sings and even screams at times about how he won’t conform to their rules and regulations or how the only family he needs is his guitar and a voice to sing.
Optimism over desperation aka Living on the run they’ll never take Mike out alive.
“-Peace, Love, n’ Unity to Mike, Profane Existence, & all the punx worldwide”