Myka, Relocate is a dynamic metallic hardcore band from Houston, whose wondrous mixture of spiraling vocals, super melodic choruses and thunderous breakdowns have been garnering the collective a good deal of recognition well beyond the Lone Star State. On The Momentum Tour with Close To Home and Adestria, Myka, Relocate would made a stop at the Cobalt Café in Canoga Park for one of the shows in Southern California. Highwire Daze caught up with lead vocalist Michael Swank and lead screamer John Ritter a few hours prior to their set for an interview. Discussed was their hometown music scene, touring advice for new bands, their own introspective lyrics, encountering a scary dude with a knife in the wilds of Tulsa, Miss Katy Perry, and other adventurous topics. Read on…
Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in Myka, Relocate and what’s the most embarrassing song on your IPOD?
Michael: I’m Michael – I sing in the band. And I don’t have a lot of music on my IPOD actually. I just listen to Spotify. I’m blanking. John you go ahead and tell yours real quick.
John: What’s up guys. I’m John – I scream for Myka, Relocate. The most embarrassing song on IPOD. I love Rammstein. Some of the old Rammstein songs are just ridiculous and I think I’d be kind of embarrassed.
That stuff is awesome! It’s far from embarrassing!
John: It is awesome! And that’s why I love it.
Michael: I wouldn’t consider this embarrassing, but other people might – I have a bunch of Justin Bieber stuff on my IPhone. I love it personally, but some people are like, “Why are you listening to that?” I just have respect for the dude, so I like it a lot.
How has this tour been going so far and what have been some of the highlights?
Michael: We’ve only been on it for a couple of days – like this is day three for us. The first day was amazing – the second day was also very good – it turned out to be nice. The response has been great! It’s nice, because we’re not that big of a band, especially in California we’ve only played a couple of times. Everywhere we’ve been so far, people have been singing along and getting into everything. So that has been the highlight – seeing at least one or two kids that just know us out here – know the words to our songs – just makes me feel good about what we’re doing.
Where are you guys based out of and what is your local music scene like there?
John: We’re based out of Houston, Texas and we do have a couple of members from Louisiana as well. It’s awesome! They have a ton of support. Every hometown show that we’ve had has been just overwhelming – as far as seeing the same faces and seeing some new faces each and every time as well. The music scene is good. It kind of develops and you have all of these bands who come through and kind of support the actually scene itself too. So I feel like the more local bands you have, the better of a stronger response you get from kids coming out. It’s good to see that they’re popping up all of the time – bands coming and going like non-stop.
Michael: Yeah, the bands – especially in Houston right now – there’s some really solid bands coming out of there. It’s really cool to see those bands draw pretty decent, so the shows do a lot better than they used to. For a while, the Houston scene was going downhill, and I think it’s picking itself back up – which is really cool to see. And as far as Lafayette goes, the same thing – the scene has been pretty good – we’ve had a really good response over there. It’s been really nice and we feel welcomed at home.
One of the newer songs you are currently giving away is called Natural Separation. Is there any story behind the lyrics on that one?
Michael: I’m going to let John answer this one, because he had a major role in that.
John: I guess it has a lot to do with just relationship-based type lyrics. Not being afraid to tell someone what you’re really thinking in a relationship – the key to success is a relationship is communication, so it has a lot to do with just not being scared to say the right thing and not being scared to say the wrong thing either, I guess. Just having good communication – not just like intimate or a sexual relationship – but just a relationship in general – whether it’s your friend or your parents or your girlfriend.
Select any two other Myka, Relocate songs you might be playing tonight and what inspired the lyrics.
John: We’re playing this one song called Double Speak – it’s one of the newer ones. It’s like the last song that’s on our teaser. And it has a lot to do with just not being discouraged by people telling you what you want to hear or people telling you different things – just not letting the lies get to your head basically. And not letting other people try to advance themselves around you, and just telling you stuff that is going to hurt you in the long run if you put too much faith in it.
Michael: And then another song that we’re playing tonight. We’re also going to play a song called Dead Ties – and that’s another one you had a major part in the lyrics for. What’s the meaning behind all that?
John: Once again, relationship based.
Michael: A lot of our songs are very relationship based. We like to tell it how it is and be real honest and upfront with people – especially with the lyrics.
John: The lyrics just basically talk about the past relationships that I’ve gone through – the good, the bad, and the ugly. Couldn’t really be too specific about it. It’s more about like how I treat people, how they treated me, and learning from it. We want to make sure that with our songs – everyone could relate to it. You don’t want it to be like – someone to listen to it and then go “This has never happened to me so I have no idea what they’re talking about.” I want somebody to hear the lyrics, and then apply it to their own life and then learn something from it. So I try to keep the message pretty broad.
One could one expect from your live show tonight?
Michael: It’s very energetic – very in your face. We like the crowd to have as much fun as possible, but we also like for them to enjoy what they hear. It’s always nice to see people go crazy, but it’s even nicer to see people getting into it and people who know us just singing along. People are here to vent and have a good time – and they might not be able to do that anywhere else, so it’s cool to see everybody really get into it and just let those feelings out – just hang out and have their time of their life with us. We like to inspire people to have a great time.
Any strange or scary happenings while out on the road?
John: One summer we were in Tulsa, Oklahoma. There were a couple of us including me that were walking to a Mexican restaurant. Apparently the other half of the band had a tent set up by the van. We got there a little early so we were just chilling out there behind the venue in this lot. And from what I was told, a homeless man approached them…
Michael: I was there! We had a tent set up in the back, and basically we just hanging out trying to stay out of the sun. We got there kind of early. This dude walked up – he was coming up behind one of our guitar players. And we were like “this guy is coming up and he looks a little bit sketchy so just keep it calm” kind of thing. So I started talking to him for a bit, and he kept reaching into his pocket for some reason – and we were just kind of freaked out. Halfway through, our bass player kind of like got up and walked to the trailer. Our guitarist – his name is Josh – he kept really calm and was just talking to the guy and he was trying to let the guy see that he was a person and don’t make a terrible decision. And the guy was talking about some scary stuff like, “There’s a guy down the street who didn’t pay his roofing bill and that guy is going to have a bad night tonight” and all that stuff. We were talking about music ad trying to keep him calm. And he was like, “Alright, well I guess I’ll see you guys later” and he walked off. And as he was walking off, he pulled a huge knife out of his pocket. So we were like, “Oh, my God, we’ve got to get the fuck out of here!” We were freaking out. And then this other guy, he ended up being the venue owner – he was on a scooter and he was riding towards us. We were on edge the whole time, but the show ended up being great though. We had a lot of fun and we’ve been back since. We haven’t really had too many terrible encounters, other than van problems.
Have you seen your friend with the knife again?
Michael: Oh no, thank God no! That was one of the scariest moments of my life! I’ve never seen a blade that big! It was one of those crazy moments!
You guys have toured a few times. What advice would you give a new band about to tour for the first time?
Michael: Be prepared! If you have to spend money on your first tour to get around, that’s fine. We started making a little bit of money to get us around just recently with the newer tours. The bigger that we get, the better responses, the more merch we sell – the more we have to get around and the more we come home with. It’s going to be kind of discouraging at first. Sometimes, if it’s a do-it-yourself kind of tour, there’s not going to be a lot of people there the first time – because no one knows who you are especially. I would just say keep going, don’t get discouraged – the more you come back to those places, the more people are going to show up and the better response you are going to have. The first tour that we did, it was kind of a nightmare. We had a bunch of cancelled shows. Sometimes they would be good crowds and sometimes there was like nobody there – it just depends. The more tours that we do – the better the response, the better the crowds get. You can do it through social networks, but I think touring is the best way to get your name out there. Because people are going to hear your music, and if you leave a lasting impression on them, they’re going to tell their friends to go check you out on the Internet. So just keep at it and don’t be discouraged.
John: Be vigilant and make sure the people that you’re with in your band – that you guys have a really good, strong relationship.
Michael: And be prepared for anything! Because anything can happen on the road. That’s all I could really say.
Men with big knives and stuff like that…
Michael: Yeah, exactly!
How close is the band to releasing a new EP or full length and do you have a working title for it yet?
Michael: We have a bunch of songs that we really feel like we need to rework, and we have some songs that we haven’t released yet. We have four songs that people haven’t even heard that are up to date with our newer sound. We don’t have a set release date on anything yet – we’re still writing for it. But we want people to be really into it. We have recorded a full length, but we feel like we could do a better job. And we want to deliver that to our fans – the best product we can deliver. No set release date – we’re working on it – but it’s going to be a great album – it’s going to be in your face and it’s going to be catchy at the same time. It’s going to be a better Myka, Relocate in the long run.
It seems like you’re comfortable with doing everything on your own. Do you want to get signed to a label? Is that a goal you might have?
John: I’d say it’s a goal – definitely! I think it’s a goal for a lot of bands who feel like they could use the help and the promotion and the backing – to feel part of a family. So we definitely want to be a part of a family and be brought into a community like that. We’re definitely not holding any prejudice or anything like that against being signed, but at the same time, we’re not trying to hold anything back for it or wait for anything. So we’re just kind of going about our own thing right now.
Michael: …waiting for the right thing to come to us as well.
It seems like everyone has been waiting forever for this new record to come out…
Michael: Yeah, for sure…
John: Unfortunately, but really, everyone’s patience is really going to pay off.
Michael: We had that record recorded and we didn’t know exactly when it was going to come out or when we thought it was going to be done. But like I said, I think we could do better – and I think as a band, we could write better music for everybody to listen to. But yeah, it will be great when it comes out.
If you could open up for any band or person, either now or from the past, who would it be and why?
Michael: This is super unrealistic – but Katy Perry – that would be amazing! I love her music – it’s awesome! We’re a very pop inspired band – we love Top 40 radio and all that stuff. The first tour – I think we listened to Katy Perry more than anything. We’re just big fans of pop music. And those shows are so crazy. There’s so many people – there’s so much production. It would be so cool to be a part of that – even if it’s for like one day. To experience that would be amazing personally! It’s way out there and it would never happen. But something like Katy Perry or a pop artist would be amazing!
John: I would love to go back like 30 years ago in the 80’s and open up for the Crüe on the Shout At The Devil Tour. That would be cool! You want to talk about production –they have like 6 18-wheelers – cool tour.
Michael: That would be awesome! That’s another tour – I could say that for sure!
Do you have any messages for people reading this who might want to check your music out?
Michael: Be prepared for new music to come out very soon.
John: Spread our music and show it to every single person – whether you think they’ll like it or not. That’s basically how things happen…
Michael: And that’s how we’re going to get on better tours too! The better response we get, the more likely we’ll be put on some better shows.
John: I always see like people in Massachusetts and New York who want us to come out and play shows. And I would love to just drop everything right now and go up there. But like I said, they more they show our music around, the more likely that’s going to happen.
Michael Swank- Vocals
Luke Burleigh – Bass
Austin Dore’ – Guitar
Aaron Robertson- Drums
Myka, Relocate is managed by The Artery Foundation
(Interview and Photos by Kenneth Morton)