Mike Rickard Makes Us Sweat Again

June 29, 2013  

This review reprinted from Alan Ilagan.

My pal Mike Rickard just released his remix EP entitled ‘Dance Til You Sweat’ – a take-off on his original ‘Sweat’ album, from which these songs were culled. Continuing on that hot and sweaty theme, this is a collection designed to make you dance, with a pumping thread of dance beats that sonically unifies everything at work.

Too many remix projects sacrifice the melody for a throbbing beat, losing the integrity of the song in service of a seamless, soulless pounding. Rickard does the impossible by retaining the meat of his songs while giving them a driving renovation. The original ‘Sweat’ album was made to be remixed, and he’s finally done it, serving up a perfectly paced EP of some of the strongest cuts. The best part is that the songs remain largely intact, keeping their deeper messages (how to keep a long-term relationship hot and new, and the things that make up for that, as evidenced in ‘When the Hot Cools Down’) as well as their melodic magic (the gorgeous bridge and breakdown of ‘Only Love’) but also expanding their purpose. You can usually tell when a musician is involved in their remixes – it’s more organic, and it sounds much better. Mr. Rickard has seen to that on ‘Dance Til You Sweat’ – an EP that sets up the follow-up question perfectly: what will come next?

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New Review of SWEAT

August 24, 2010  

My friend – and fellow musician – Terry Christopher posted a great review of SWEAT for Stonewall Society.  The review can be viewed here.  I have also printed it below.

MIKE RICKARD
SWEAT ~ CD REVIEW
by: Terry Christopher

Atlanta based and OUT singer-songwriter, Mike Rickard, has just released his Sophomore CD, Sweat, as a follow up to his successful debut CD, Stirred Not Shaken. It is clear within the first couple of songs that Mike is a thoughtful story teller weaving words together from his own life experiences and drawing from the far corners of life lessons to share musically with the world. I noticed immediately the production quality as being top-notch and that time and money were well spent in this a very solidly produced musical package. It is amazing to see how far and how good indie music makers have come and how they are standing up to the production quality of that of the big labels minus the big label expense.

The first song on the CD, Sweat, is a gem of song called “Wild Beautiful Blue.” It is very positive and uplifting in lyric content, melodic structure and musical arrangement. It is reminiscent of Sheryl Crow’s, “Soak Up The Sun” or “All I Wanna Do.” I really believe if someone came across this song or sought it out while having a bad day that they would not be able to stay in a bad mood after listening to “Wild Beautiful Blue.”

The second song on Sweat is “Anything of Nothing.” From the guitar and drum heavy intro, this song brings to mind the band, Jars of Clay. The guitar work and drum beats are driven to deliver the message of Mike’s lyric which may at first seem to be simple in the thoughts of seeking to improve oneself or ones life. The more you listen the more you get the literal and obvious intention of the lyric and song title. A really nice lyric moment is – “Doesn’t matter if I stumble, doesn’t matter if I fall, cause I’m guaranteed to fail if I do nothing at all. Some say the destination is the one and only prize. But you’ll never get there is don’t get on the ride.” I think this line can apply to many people who are often times visitors in their own lives. Mike sings of being present and owning this journey of life as not doing so is doing nothing. Again, this lyric might appear simple in thought but it is deeper as a practically applied concept.

“When The Hot Cools Down” asks the questions of a significant other where a relationship is going? Does the relationship have the staying power to endure when the shiny, new, passion filled early days start to age? Is seeing the relationship through the intention of his love? Very memorable hook in the chorus which anchors this mid–tempo, well sung song that also has a really nice, Santana-esque guitar solo in the musical interlude that feeds into a bridge that then delivers the listener back to the infectious chorus.

The fourth song on Sweat is the title track. It starts in this faded scratchy reduced sound quality style that would come from being played from an old 45. The song then jumps into a more modern, crisp sound with a hot little wawa guitar that conjures up a guitar line in the style of a James Brown song. What really stands out in this song is the lush, funky, driving beat that does seem to hijack ones body and get you moving.

The next track is the guitar heavy “Only Love.” Rickard sings of the extreme highs and lows that we have all experienced in the game of love and how it can be the best of times and the worst of times. A great reminder of this in the lyric is – “It brings out the best, it brings out the worst. One day a blessing the next it’s a curse. It doesn’t cost a thing but you know it has a price.”

“Crawling” is an introspective soul searching exploration when one feels down and out. It is likely a place where our minds have all gone to. Mike’s vocal delivery is perfectly connected in this haunting set of statements of the shortcomings of simply being human. A powerful lyric moment is – “I push myself to do, without taking time to be, my eyes are always open but I never stop to see. I’m drowning in the shallows but I’m longing for the deep.” These lyrics are both revealing and haunting.

One of the powerful ballad gems found on Rickard’s Sweat is the tender and sensitive ”This Time Last Year.” Mike sings of the universal and sometimes visceral painful life experience of going through a year of firsts after the loss of a loved one. Lyrically Mike sings – “It’s a new year of firsts, after a year full of lasts. Time keeps marching on while I am stuck here in the past.” What I think is so remarkable about Rickard’s tackling of this universal topic of loss, is how succinctly he nails this unavoidable life process right on the head and contains it musically, lyrically, in this thinner, lighter musical arrangement. Though Mike Rickard’s vocal work is clear, crisp and solid throughout his CD, Sweat, I do believe that everything aligns to make this vocally one of the most powerful songs presented on the CD. Mike’s vocal delivery is very similar to another OUT singer-songwriting pop star, George Michael as recalled on Michael’s “Kissing A Fool.” Michael set the standard for that soft, sensitive, breathy, buttery-smooth upper tenor range that is brimming with emotion and Rickard delivers the goods in much the same way on this topically and lyrically sad song.

“Just Like New” delivers one of Mike’s grittier vocal performances in an arrangement that is seeped in a southern rock style with a honky tonk stroll which opens with some great organ work. I would like to have had the organ brought out a bit more in the arrangement when it was used and also used a bit more. I also really do hope to see more of Mike’s grittier vocals delivered in future songs.

A true feel-good music offering is the ninth track on his new ten song CD, Sweat titled “Stupid Stuff Like That.” It reminds the listener of all the great aspects of being in a relationship through the various simple give and takes that help a relationship stay fresh.

The final song closing out the musical journey found on Mike Rickard’s CD, Sweat, is the beautiful ballad, “Goodnight.” “Goodnight” sings of having the last words that Mike’s muse hears at night are I Love You. The lyric offers an apology in advance and without confirmation as being necessary for anything that may have been said or done to make his love feel less than he really is during the day that is now winding down. I would hope messages such as that are not in today’s world discounted as unimportant, unnecessary, cheesy or unwanted.

Mike Rickard’s Sophomore CD, Sweat, has the singer clearly feeling good about his life as his songs reflect upbeat, uplifting and positive messages through well written, thoughtful, connective lyrics. Even when dealing with hard life issues in his songs, Rickard addresses them with a sense of respect, learning and reverence leaving out any sort of victimized, ‘why me cruel world’ sort of feeling. Mike delivers Sweat, his 10 song musical offering with finesse, polish, high quality production value and a group of supporters who connect to Mike’s musical vision as demonstrated in his expert and well-skilled musicians and production people. Indie singer-songwriters are demonstrating the how’s and why’s of making great, long, successful careers for themselves and Atlanta’s Mike Rickard is just such an indie artist who is also a star on the rise.

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First Official Review of SWEAT!

December 8, 2009  

Alan Ilagan is a prolific writer/photographer/model/blogger who has written for numerous magazines.  We share a love of Madonna – and I found him several years ago through some of his writings about her. At the time, I wrote to him and asked him if he would consider reviewing Stirred Not Shaken.  He graciously agreed and wrote a wonderful, in depth review.  So Alan was one of the first people I asked to review SWEAT.  He posted the review today on his blog (Thanks, Alan!!) and can be viewed here.

It is also reprinted below.

Let the Music Move You

Review of Mike Rickard’s ‘Sweat’ by Alan Bennett Ilagan

MikeRickard1

‘Sweat’ is more than the title of Mike Rickard’s latest CD – it’s also a compelling command – and Rickard works it out with a pumping collection of rock-and-blues-inspired pop. {Photos by Jay Rickard}

Music has always gone hand in hand with physical exertion. A requisite accompaniment to dancing and working out, it has inspired and motivated almost everyone at some point, from amateur gym bunnies to gold-medal Olympians. (It’s rare to see an Olympic athlete without an iPod in their ears before an event.) Whether it’s a soaring guitar melody, a driving beat, or a prowling bass-line – all have conspired at one time or another to move us in some way – and that motion is what Mike Rickard has captured on his new album, Sweat.

“The last few years have been about learning to live life to the fullest, to get the most out of each moment, to keep my relationship with my partner fresh and exciting, and to balance the demands of daily life with some fun,” Rickard claims. “To do all of that, it takes effort – and sweat. I think those are things anyone can relate to.”

The album cover art goes for a more masculine ‘Let’s Get Physical’ vibe, with Rickard showing off some decent guns in a sweaty tank. The music has a bit more muscle too, displaying a development in strength and heft, richly aligned with its title metaphor. Rickard has progressed impressively since his last outing, 2004’s Stirred Not Shaken – the music this time around is bigger, faster, stronger and better. While it may sacrifice some introspection because of this, it’s also a more fun record, forgoing darkness for celebration, and embracing the simple joys to be found in everyday life.

Opening track ‘Wild Blue Beautiful’ is driven by guitars and the hopefulness of Rickard’s awestruck voice as he gives thanks for all that he’s been given. It sets the upbeat tone for the album, which continues with ‘Anything of Nothing’, a self-empowering anthem that finds Rickard taking charge:

It’s time to make a change, so I’ll push, I’ll pull, I’ll plead
And if that’s not enough, I’ll love, I’ll fight, I’ll bleed
I’ve come to realize that the choice is up to me
Fate can take care of itself, I’ll make my own destiny

‘When the Hot Cools Down’ may be the new Theme for Monogamy, as Rickard ponders the ins and outs of a long-term relationship. An undertone of world-weary blues runs throughout the song, particularly in the guitar solo, giving poignant accompaniment to some hard-won wisdom:

We’ll beat the odds,

Yeah I know we can.
When things start cooling off,

You know we’ll heat them up again.

When it’s not so new and the shine wears off,
When you’re just not sure and I think I’ve had enough,
I won’t turn and run and I know you’ll stick around.
I know we’ll be here when the hot cools down.

Title track ‘Sweat’ is a dirty, gritty, funky romp with a wicked bass-line. It could be the start of a heavy dance grind or a sweaty session of sex, or maybe just a healthy, harmless bit of mindless fun. Either way, this music will move you.

MikeRickard3

The midsection of the album offers a respite as Rickard slows things down. In ‘Crawling’, he wonders just how far he has come, and, more importantly, how far he has to go. There is reluctance in his voice, but resignation and resolution as well, as he sings:

I’m longing for the day
When the demons and the noises
Will just forget my name
And someday lose their voices

I’m crawling
Towards comfortable.

One of the album’s highlights, and perfect for the holiday season, is ‘This Time Last Year.’ With its timeless sense of bittersweet longing, regret, and the many aches of a love remembered, the song forms the perfect vehicle for Rickard to give his most soulful delivery on the album. It’s a tearjerker, but the music eases the pain – its gentle ebb and flow a form of healing in itself.

Rickard doesn’t milk the melancholy, diving right back into the giddy flow with ‘Just Like New’, as the song slinks along with a wink and a vamp, both decrying and accepting the challenge of, well, a challenge. Its bluesy bounce is a neat bridge to ‘Stupid Stuff Like That’, which perfectly encapsulates the breezy, effervescent feel of most of the album. He takes the simple motions of a day, crafts a musical poem, and imbues it all with the tenderness and love that most of us forget to appreciate:

Kiss me in the morning to start the day off right
And I’ll tell you that I love you before we say goodnight
But those are just two bookends on either side of sleep
What matters most is what we do with all that’s in between.

You call me through the day just to say hello
And if I have to work late I call to let you know
We always eat together, take the dogs for a walk
It gives us time to laugh, it gives us time to talk.

It’s just a little bit of give and take
The simple things that make or break
The glue that holds it all together
Oh, I know there’s nothing better
Than stupid stuff like that.

Rickard closes the album with the befitting ‘Goodnight’, leaving things on a delicate note – the sigh at the end of the day, or the cool-down after a hearty work-out. It’s a love song doubling as an examination of faith – the crux of so many great songs – and arguably what Rickard does best. With Sweat, Rickard goes for action instead of reflection, focusing on movement rather than still contemplation. When the sounds are as powerful as this, it’s easy to go along for the ride.

——————

Sweat, the new album by Mike Rickard, is available here.

MikeRickard2

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Project Q Atlanta

October 13, 2009  

pqa-logo

 

 

 

 

 

Mike Rickard is gonna make you ‘Sweat’

imageAtlanta singer-songwriter Mike Rickard celebrates his new CD “Sweat” with an early release party at Red Light Café on Saturday.

The CD, which Rickard says is full of songs that “have an immediate, in the moment feel to them in both the music and the lyrics,” officially becomes available Oct. 20 through CDBaby.com. Digital distribution on sites like iTunes is expected soon after the release.

In a departure from the mellow groove Rickard laid down to critical acclaim on “Stirred Not Shaken” in 2004, “Sweat” is chock full of musical hooks and catchy lyrics.

“So I’ll tell you how it is in case you haven’t heard / Life is just a now but living is a verb,” he croons on the song “Anything of Nothing.”

The title track from “Sweat” will also see an album version and dance remix single released. Keep an eye out for a concert tour to support “Sweat” in 2010.

The CD is produced by Mike Ofca, who has worked with a diverse clientele, from gay musician Eric Himan to Righteous B and Tom Goss, among many others.

If the grassroots success of “Stirred Not Shaken” is any indication (That CD stayed on the Outvoice Top 40 for more than a year, and Rickard was nominated for Outstanding Male Debut by Outmusic), gay Atlanta needs to give one of our own the props he deserves. Come meet Rickard at the release party, and be sure and treat yourself to this local boy’s new CD.

For more from Rickard about the CD, see what he has to say in his interview with David Atlanta.

Photo by Jay Rickard.

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David Magazine

October 7, 2009  

Sweet Sweat
Atlanta musician Mike Rickard turns up the heat

rickard-header-10-06-09COOLER TEMPERATURES MAY HAVE descended on Atlanta, but local gay musician Mike Rickard is still ready to make you sweat. The East Atlanta cutie celebrates the release of his second CD, “Sweat,” at the Red Light Café Oct. 10, and chatted with David about exploring outside his comfort zone on the new album:

David: What were some of the issues that were going on in your life while recording the CD that motivated some of the songs?

Mike Rickard: Kind of where my mind was, was making sure that I am living life to the fullest — taking advantage of every moment, every opportunity, and not being afraid to take chances. Also, my partner and I have been together for a while, and so some of the songs on the CD kind of reflect the work that it takes in a relationship after you’ve been together for a while, like the song ‘When the Hot Cools Down.’

How much of the CD would you say is autobiographical?

Every bit of it, I would say. The one song that I would say is not reflective of my life now is the song ‘Crawling,’ which is really about being in a place of total discomfort and not being comfortable with where you are with your life right now.

I would say that was kind of my life before I came out.

What was your coming out experience like?

When I came out, that was probably the first time in my life that I didn’t feel this constant striving, of not feeling good enough, of feeling like I was kind of missing the mark or failing. Actually, when I came out that was the first time I felt real peace or joy.

Can you talk a little about the title track, ‘Sweat’ — it’s got a great funkiness to it and sounds like you were able to let your hair down with it.

You know, it’s funny because I really wanted it to be a song that people would groove to, but I pictured it probably being a little more acoustic-sounding. When the producer was playing the electric guitar part, at one point we were in between takes and I said, ‘You know, I was picturing the song being this way, but after listening to your guitar parts, I feel like I need to go take a shower — they’re just dirty!’ He said, ‘The song is totally sexual and you just need to commit to it.’ And I said, ‘You know what, you’re right,’ and we just went with it.

The collaboration that I had with the producer, Mike Ofca, was phenomenal. He took everything I wanted to do and he honored it, and there were a few instances where he pushed me to maybe go a little bit beyond what I was wanting to do sound-wise, and I just couldn’t be happier with the result.

Who are some of your artistic inspirations?

I would say the people that really do it for me, particularly from a male perspective, Jason Mraz is one of my absolute favorites. I think he is a killer singer, I think he’s a great musician and songwriter, plus he puts on one hell of a live show. Musically, I’ve always liked John Mayer, and what I didn’t realize until my vocal instructor pointed it out is that there’s a lot of Rob Thomas influence on the CD as well.

I also gravitate a lot toward female singers as well, and I would say a huge influence on this CD was Natasha Bedingfield and her CD “Unwritten.” I thought it was such a fun CD, but it really had something to say, and it had an energy level that just really influenced a lot of my writing style.

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Gaydar Atlanta

October 6, 2009  

Singer Feature Vol32

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Gophertunes.com

May 12, 2007  

Boys’ Night Out at Red Light Cafe

 

By Kim Frazier

Red Light Cafe opened its doors to a very special Boys’ Night Out on Saturday, and I’m glad I didn’t miss it. I was a fly on the wall among men – the kind who sip merlot, have manners and sing some damned good songs.

Mike Rickard, Wayne Fishell, Sean Kagalis, Lucas Miré and special guest Richard Solomon performed original music that was entertaining, often humorous and at all times from the heart.


Boys’ Night Out at Red Light Cafe drew all kinds of performers, from the intense to the flamboyant. From left: Mike Rickard, Wayne Fishell, Sean Kagalis and Lucas Miré.

Mike Rickard orchestrated this gathering of local singer/songwriter talent as an attempt at presenting gay entertainment that isn’t synonymous with dance music and drag queens. He succeeded. With individual acoustic and lyrical style, these boys delivered their remarkable talents to an audience glued to their seats in an ambience of campfire glow – like “Brokeback Mountain” minus the hatred and secrecy. It was beautiful.

The show began with Richard Solomon transitioning from open mic fame to gig debut. Richard took center stage with a little anxiety, but made us laugh with a soft rap style and surprising lyrics such as “dropping shit like a pigeon” and something about “orange and oompa loompas.” No kidding. Musically, he reminded me of a cross between Suzanne Vega and Jack Johnson. And despite the anxiety, he offered himself with an honesty and vulnerability that stole a moment in time and made him an endearing introduction to Boys’ Night Out.

He was relieved when his turn was up. I was in love.

The remainder of the evening was an ongoing round of intimate lyrics, excellent vocals and strong acoustic performances shared equally between Mike, Wayne, Sean and Lucas. While they each brought a unique energy to the stage, together they shared respect and obvious enjoyment of each other. It was simply the most pleasant musical performance I’ve ever attended – momma rocking you to sleep while daddy reads you a story. It felt like that.


Wayne Fishell displays his wonderful silver toenail polish during Boys’ Night Out.

Mike Rickard combined a strong lyrical talent with acoustic skill and a beautiful voice. My favorite song was “I Forgot to Forget About You.” He’s also quite handsome. No, he’s beautiful. No, he’s a GOD.

If I were a gay man, he would be mine. That partner of Mike’s, the one he bought the old house with and inspired the song “Just Like New,” would have to hand over his keys and get over it.

Mike managed to slip in one Diva Tribute to Madonna: A manly version of “Don’t Tell Me.” He did a great job with that song and it reminded me of one of life’s true ironies, at least in my experience – only a gay man can truly appreciate a strong woman. Sigh. All the good men… ladies, you know the rest.

Next, Wayne Fishell of the Wayne Fishell Experiment! He must be “exclaimed” because he is a statement in himself. The most flamboyant and unpredictable of the boys, Wayne brought a fun, fresh playfulness to the show. I loved his spontaneity, lack of inhibition and silver toenails. He’s also a talented musician in all categories. In addition to acoustic guitar, he incorporated the mandolin and a tiny piano into his rounds. Yes, a tiny piano. Remember Schroeder from Peanuts?

Sean Kagalis was without a doubt the most intense boy on stage. The energy instantly shifted into high gear when this very talented


Sean Kagalis performs with real intensity at Boys’ Night Out. Listen to Eagle 106.7 for his tune “The Falling Song.”

singer/songwriter/musician took his turn, and I understood why he had to write a song about “why I play music.” I heard “trying to connect all the time” in a frenzy of lyrics and extreme guitar. Wow!

I couldn’t help but wonder what would happen if he made the “connection.” Quite possibly he would disappear into another world, because he is certainly standing at the door. I had actually seen him perform “Highway 61″ at the 500 Songs for Kids event and had the same reaction. Simply put, his talent will blow you away. Be sure to listen for his latest recording, “The Falling Song,” on Eagle 106.7.

Lucas Miré ended each round with songs that were very much about the lyrics, easy on the guitar and a voice that commanded attention. He was the “laid-back boy” on stage and his songs, like “Fill In The Blanks,” were easily interpreted. It seemed to me that he probably writes a song as easily as he gets dressed. He completed each round with equal substance and repeated confirmation from a fan in the crowd who kept screaming out “Lucas!” That added some excitement to the ambience.

Boys’ Night Out with Mike Rickard, Wayne Fishell, Sean Kagalis and Lucas Miré? Warm and wonderful. If they do it again I hope I’m invited, and I hope they don’t forget Richard Solomon.

This girl had a great time.

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Muzikbuff.com

February 1, 2007  

Mike Rickard – STIRRED NOT SHAKEN

(2005)

Grade = A-

Genre – POP

I discovered this talented musician while browsing the OUT-and-PROUD section on CDBaby.com and was captured by his quiet yet effective brand of music.

All songs on this 11 track CD were written by Mike and you can tell how personal these songs are in regards to his life. It starts out with a great pop tune called “Lucky” then you go on a journey through all styles of music. Mike Rickard has a slight sound resemblance in his song “Do You Know” to George Michael’s “Kissing A Fool” and also pure pop radio ready “Everything You Need” has a solid sound.

The star track by far is “Forgot To Forget”. This would be my first choice as a single. Just a great melody!

Mike strikes gold with the upbeat danceable “Natural” which is a clear winner. I really like his voice behind a dance beat but still keeping his quiet edge.

The song “Home For The Holidays” is a very meaningful and effective song but kind of moves a little slow.

Another pop pleasure is “Forever Ran Out Of Time” where the lyrics are what really got me on this one. Written with a very clever flare. Me being a hopeful song writer that really pays attention to lyrics, whenever someone is able to say familiar things in an unfamiliar way, I truly respect that. “Clock lost it’s hands and forever ran out of time”. Brilliant!

I would love to hear this guy rock it out a bit, maybe by putting a stronger upbeat backing to a song or two. Maybe on his second CD? We’ll see!

MuzicBuff’s choices for singles

1. Forgot To Forget

2. Natural

3. Forever Ran Out Of Time

4. Lucky

5. Everything You Need

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Macon.com

September 22, 2006  

GIG GUIDE

Who‘s playing in local clubs

Mike Rickard

This Atlanta singer–songwriter belts out his lyrics with a quavering tenor and wears his heart on his sleeve. If coy were zero and earnest were 10, Rickard would be an 11. I’ve lied, I’ve cried, I’ve prayed, denied / I’ve tried to be a better man / I won’t give it up until I lay me down / But I’ll smile and say anyhow / That’s just who I am. Those lines are from a track from Rickard‘s slickly produced CD, “Stirred, Not Shaken.” Rickard has been nominated for Outmusic‘s Outstanding Debut Male Recording award.

Playing at 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 23, at the Dripdrop Cafe, 206 Russell Parkway, Suite 300, Warner Robins. 918-0007. No Cover.

Get your act in the Gig Guide by e-mailing Dan Maley at dmaley@macontel.com

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Rockwired.com

November 1, 2005  

THIS
IS
YOUR
SONG
 
MIKE RICKARD TALKS TO ROCKWIRED

ABOUT BEING TRUE TO HIMSELF

FINDING HIS VOICE

AND HIS NEW CD STIRRED NOT SHAKEN

WRITTEN BY BRIAN LUSH

MIKE RICKARD is a true southern gentlemen. My only regret about doing phone interviews is that you never get to see your subject face to face. It was 7PM my time and 10PM his time. At an hour when I’m usually falling asleep, MR. RICKARD found to be the perfect time to do an interview. Most of his song ideas come to him at night.

One can only begin to imagine the endless nights spent toiling on his debut CD STIRRED NOT SHAKEN. The CD is a catalogue of vignettes with one theme in common: Trying to connect with someone. Anyone whether it be a father who has made himself unavailable (DO YOU KNOW) or finding that special someone and not caring what the world thinks. (NATURAL)

It was a nice little phone conversation that found me a little unprepared and MIKE seemingly dumbfounded by my lack of preparedness. Here’s how it went.

How did it begin for you?

I grew up going to church like a lot of people and singing in the church choir. When I hit my teen years, I became a soloist. Church music was a large part of my life for a few years.

But it didn’t always stay that way.

It did for most of my life. I didn’t do anything musically for a long time and when I did sing, they were songs that other people had written. It wasn’t until six years ago that I started writing my own songs. Most of it up until that time was Contemporary Christian.

I’ve noticed that the copyright and publishing year for STIRRED NO SHAKEN is 2004 and not 2005. What’s up? Was the CD on hold for a while or something?

I put it out in 2004 by myself and got some local press for it. CHIP SCHUTZMAN (SOVEREIGN ARTIST RECORDS) was a judge for this award ceremony. My CD was nominated for this award and CHIP contacted me and told me that he liked my music. We began a month or so ago working on a plan to better advertise my CD. So, it’s been out for a little while.

What was the CD nominated for?

It was nominated for an Outstanding Award for and Outstanding Debut Recording for a Male.

How hard was it to record STIRRED NOT SHAKEN? All of the material sounds kind of personal?

Believe it or not it was fairly easy. There were a couple of songs I felt a little weird about, especially when it came to showing them to my vocal instructor and people I was working with in regard to the CD but towards the end it really wasn’t all that difficult. Then when the CD came out, I was worried about how it would be received. When it’s personal, you’re putting yourself out there and so far I’ve had a pretty good response.

Are there any songs in particular that stand out for you?

The songs were written under different times and different circumstances. The song WHO I AM was the last song I wrote for the CD and basically sums up everything that I ever wanted to say. I showed the song to my guitar teacher and he was like “This is really personal! It’s gonna take guts to do this song.” WHO I AM is the song is the song that people have responded to the most. Probably more than the others.

What artists influenced you?

From a male perspective there’s JOHN MAYER. I think he’s a great songwriter. There’s JASON MRA. I absolutely love his stuff. Vocally, I think GEORGE MICHAEL has a terrific voice.

That was what leaped out at me when I played the CD; the similarity in your vocal styles.

You know, I get that comparison a lot. Personally, I think he has a much better voice than I do so I’m always flattered when people make that connection. It wasn’t anything that I was striving for. I’m also inspired by people like SARAH McLACHLAN, SADE and MADONNA. MADONNA really inspired me.

I can see that in the subject matter in your music: the themes of sexuality, spirituality and indifference. Is their any touring for this CD at the moment?

I do a few local things here in Atlanta but lately I’ve been branching out. I’ve been to Memphis and I’ll be going to Jacksonville soon. I’ve got dates coming up in the DC area and Knoxville. Next year, I plan on doing more of tour with back to back dates.

What would you like the audience to walk away with?

I would like them not to feel that the songs are about someone else. When they hear the songs, I’d like them to feel that there is something there they can relate to. If people can make the songs their own and have it mean something to them, then that’s what I’d like to see.

As a gay artist, what are your thoughts on this division in this country between these holier-than-thou types and gays.

I grew up going to church and went to Bible college as well. When I made the decision to come out, it was very difficult but once I made the decision, I was happy with it. I didn’t feel that huge weight of being something different than who I am. It was a huge relief. When I was writing the CD and deciding whether or not I wanted to deal with the sexuality or not, I felt like I wanted to be real. That was why I put the song NATURAL on there. I just hope that a listener will be able to see any relationship in that song and not just a same sex one. Today’s political climate is very difficult. I feel like we’re stepping back in time. It feels like the progress that we’ve made is fading away. It’s a scary thing to think about and it concerns me that people filter everything through religion. It’s hard for people to relate to each other with that kind of bias.

Explain the creative process to me. Are you always writing or do you only write when there is inspiration?

I think, to be a good songwriter, you can’t go on inspiration alone. There has to be a certain amount of craft to it as well. I write things down in a journal. It’s usually lyrics first for me. At the moment, I’m still writing. When I finished the CD I stopped writing for several months. Right now I’ve got quite a few songs and I hope to do another CD. I plan on working on it next year and have it released in 2007. As an independent artist, I’m trying to pay myself back in order to finance another CD.

What are the challenges to being an independent artist. Does it wear on you?

Not really. So far, it’s been a good experience. I come from a sort of corporate environment background so I’ve got a good idea on how to get the music out there. It’s been really enjoyable. I get frustrated every once in a while, but the people I’ve come into contact with have been very receptive. It’s been a fun experience.

How has the audience reaction been to your work?

I’ll start with live shows. In contrast to the songs on the CD, I love humor. I like getting up there and telling funny stories and I get the audience laughing quite a bit. I always get good responses to the music. I’ve got this one song called DO YOU KNOW. It’s this jazz song about my dad. There isn’t a time where I haven’t played that song and people did not cry. There are certain lines in my songs that make people laugh as well. People say WHO I AM could’ve been written about them. Sometimes, the most personal songs are the ones people respond to the most. Responses to the CD have been encouraging. I’ve been fortunate to get good press and such a receptive audience.

Any groupies?

(Laughs) There are definitely people who come back again and again to my shows but no. Not really. I have a partner and at all of the shows, he’s there helping me sell CD’s and collecting e-mails for the audience. He and I met after I had started writing songs. For our first Christmas together, he gave me an acoustic guitar and that was just the most incredible message. It was the nicest thing that anyone had ever done for me.

Sounds like having him around has made the whole thing easier. Right?

He’s definitely given me the inspiration on some of the lyrics. He’s been a great influence on me personally as far as encouraging me to fulfill my dream. I always wanted to record my own CD and he was there to say “there’s no reason why you shouldn’t.”

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