Noted Guitarist Mike Wallace to Special Guest with Diane & The Deductibles for Missing Persons Show
Noted guitarist Mike Wallace will be making a special guest appearance with Diane & The Deductible at Gallagher’s in Huntington Beach on March 31st. Also on the bill will be the one and only Missing Persons, the new wave sensations making this a true night for legends within an intimate setting.
Highwire Daze recently had a chance to interview Mike Wallace to discuss his connections with music icons such as Keith Emerson, Glenn Hughes, Marc Bonilla and Danny Seraphine of Chicago as well as his upcoming performance with Diane & The Deductibles. Read on…
How did you become involved with Diane & The Deductibles?
Diane called me in need of a guitar player. I was referred to her by a mutual musician friend named Ed Roth who I have played in bands with since the early nineties (90s).
When will your first show be with Diane & The Deductible and how have rehearsals been going?
March 31st. We are playing with Missing Persons at Gallagher’s in Huntington Beach. Rehearsals are going great and the band is sounding killer. So, if the show is anything like the rehearsals, it’s gonna ROCK!!!
So many accomplished musicians within the ranks of Diane & The Deductibles! Had you ever worked or known any of them from the past?
Only one of them, Keith Lynch. I met Keith in 1990. Truth be told, Keith was my sponsor when I first kicked a severe drug and alcohol habit. He was referred to me by one of the counselors at the rehab that I had gone to. Keith and I spent almost every day together for the first year of my sobriety and become guitar player buddies but never actually worked in bands together. In 1998, we sort of lost contact and have reconnected 20 years later in D & D. It is great to play in a band with all of these folks, but the reconnection with Keith holds a different place in my heart. Awesome reconnect.
Your credits are immense as well. First of all, what was it like working with Keith Emerson in Boys Club and what was he like?
LOL… Yea, I’ve been fortunate to have worked with several great musicians in my career. Many of which were my hero’s growing up. Keith Emerson? Suffice it to say he was not only a masterful keyboard player/musician but he was also a true gentleman. Marc Bonilla had pulled me into this band, but the story of how I got the gig is always a good memory for me. Keith had handed me the musical transcript for Tarkus, which was many pages. I looked at him and asked “what do you want me to do with this”? He replied “It’s so you can learn the tune, mate.” I replied, “I don’t read music, so I’ll just memorize it.” He looked at me perplexed and with a “sure you will” smirk. I came in prepared for rehearsal knowing it note for note plus the other two-hours of music. I was hired. LOL That was a stressful shed time as that piece of music is insane.
Boys Club was sort of an All-Star band that I was very blessed to have been a part of. Members were myself, Marc Bonilla (my mentor) and Ronnie Montrose (another mentor) on Guitars, Keith Emerson and Ed Roth on Keys with Steve Porcaro of Toto joining us frequently, Bob Birch from Elton John’s Band on Bass with Mick Mahan from Pat Benatar’s band alternating on Bass, Joe Travers and Gregg Bissonette alternating on Drums, and Glenn Hughes on Vocals.
My experience with all of these guys has been a highlight of my career.
Glenn Hughes in Boys Club is also a legend. What was it like working with him?
Glenn is a funny dude. Loved working with him, and what a voice. He totally loves R & B and we frequently jammed on Stevie Wonder tunes, etc. back during those days. I have not really seen or spoken to him much since Boys Club, but Glenn is a true rocker and a very nice gent.
What was it like working with Danny Seraphine of Chicago on California Transit Authority?
I was in CTA (California Transit Authority) for a short period of time, as prior commitments did not allow me to continue with the band longer than what I could. Danny is totally cool and a killer drummer. We played many shows together, and while we didn’t talk too much about Chicago, the conversations we did have were cool. It’s always a blast playing the tunes you grew up on with the original guys that played on them. It’s kind of like you have been included in some history and very surreal, if you know what I mean. Playing/making music with Danny was no exception.
What was it like playing in the Ronnie Montrose Remembered show and have you ever worked or met Ronnie before.
I have done the Montrose Remembered shows since they started a few years back. I met Ronnie when I joined Marc Bonilla’s Dragon Choir. Ronnie and Marc were very close friends and he came to a few of our shows, which led to the formation of Boys Club. Ronnie didn’t play all of the BC shows with us; however, he and I got to do a lot of hang time outside of gigs. I did not see him for many years prior to his unfortunate passing, but Ronnie was a mentor, a gentleman, and all-around nice guy. He was crazy good with electronics and his tone was great. We would have in depth conversations about how he got the sounds of the early Montrose record etc. I am honored to have known and performed with him.
When playing with Diane & The Deductibles, what will be your instrument of choice and why (brand of guitar)?
I play many guitars; however, I will primarily be playing my Grosch NOS retro SSH. One of the best guitars that I have ever owned and it gives me access to a myriad of tonal choices – It plays like butter. I will probably use my Fender Custom Shop 51 No Caster Tele as a backup. It too is a killer guitar, or I may change it up with a Black 40th anniversary Les Paul with P-100s. I like my guitars to provide tonal variations, but use them for different situations. D & D rock so the Grosch and Paul may be the tools.
What endorsements do you have?
At one time I was an endorsee of Gibson, Fender, Yamaha, Rivera, Divided by 13, Seymour Duncan, La Bella, GHS, D’Addario, etc.
I do not have any endorsements now. I used to do that in the early days, but chose to buy what I really wanted and not be locked into playing gear from only one company. If I were to say that I endorse any company today it would be Redplate Amplifiers – best amps that I have ever owned. I play them exclusively and have a great relationship with Keith Entringer who owns the company and builds them. He is also building my new pedalboard. Keith is a dear friend and a freakin genius.
What advice would you give a young musician seeking an endorsement deal?
Seeking endorsement deals is probably a good first step in getting established with some good gear if you can’t afford to buy it. Unfortunately, most companies want to know how many people will see you playing their gear consistently and if it does not provide benefit – no deal. So, build your brand, have your marketing plan established (PROMO etc.) and solicit companies. Strings is always a good start, and saves you money on having to buy them – I change mine frequently and I just buy them because I can afford to now.
Any other bands or projects outside of Diane & The Deductibles?
Well, I co-own a Pop/Classic Country cover band called SMITH, which does only Private Corporate events. It’s great, cause while my career has primarily been rock, I dig Country guitar and how bad ass the guys that play it are. Learning the genre has really helped my playing. I try and stay in town more these days as the touring world has dramatically changed in quality and the pay is ridiculously low – I make more being home. I do still get calls for small tour-based work, which I do very infrequently, but if something real good were to be offered I might consider it.
I still am very involved with all my major contacts and work with my buddy Marc Bonilla a lot. He has a new record coming out, which will generate some possible touring. There is some talk that we may put our band Saville Row back together with drummer Troy Luckketta of Tesla. Killer band, but we will see.
I also own Firepan Music, which is a company that I started about 10 years ago to create library music, provide music for video games, and do many sessions for artists seeking my guitar playing on the recordings, etc. My recording studio is in my home, which is very convenient and has been fairly lucrative.
Any final words of wisdom?
Yea, get a job. LOL
In all seriousness, today’s musician has an unlimited amount of opportunity to not only get their music heard but to also make a living playing music. It will not come, however, by just playing in a band and hoping you hit the BIG time. You have to be creative and develop multiple revenue streams for your income. With technology and social media you can do fairly well if you differentiate yourself.
When it comes to guitar…. PRACTICE, know a lot of different types of music, learn to sing, get educated and most importantly BE PREPARED and be PROFESSIONAL.
My success has come from walking into auditions and rehearsals always knowing more of each piece of music than was expected. Present yourself as the one that they don’t have to worry about. PREPARATION and PROFESSIONALISM have been the most important elements of my success. Oh, and don’t brag about accomplishments. While they are a part of the equation, nobody cares about what you have done as much as what you can do for them.
(Interview by Ken Morton)