INTERVIEW: Michael CG | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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In my head at least Stockton’s Michael CG is already a rock star. You may have seen him slinging the bass in Tim Oxnard’s Oilbirds or lurking in the shadows looking cool as fuck at local gigs, or you may have already feasted your ears on last year’s social media slow burner Hitsville, Absolutely Nowhere EP. And, if the as-yet-unmastered tracks from Michael’s follow-up EP (he will refer to it only as “part 2”) out in June are anything to go by, we can expect more Ramones-meets-Queen and Bolan-meets-Sparks lo-fi pop experimenting.

When we meet in the (slightly) exotic surroundings of an evening of art and music off Middlesbrough’s usual creative path, Michael arrives in fitted leather jacket and block heels sporting a luxurious bleach-blonde feather cut and earrings like an extra from Vinyl.

Sartorial elegance aside, the DIY ethic is strong with this one. Within the six-minute Soundcloud sampler he has readied for press purposes I noted influences as diverse as Velvet Underground, Zappa, Beefheart, Jethro Tull, early eighties reggae, PiL, Revolting Cocks, Outkast…the list goes on. Only at its lowest common denominator is it for fans of Jack White and Beck; but so full of whimsical chutzpah, creative savoir faire and wonderfully chaotic avant-pop effortlessly sprinkled with contemporary lyrical twists and archly contrived musical turns like a toy box full of sensory delights and occasional jack-in-the-boxes.

People can be quick to compare you to artists and project their own vision of what they see in you. Sometimes they’re right and sometimes they’re wrong

Catching up properly a couple of days later an unnecessarily self-conscious Michael (he may have to get used to talking about himself a bit more!) told me how the new EP compares to Hitsville… “It differs only in the way you might find the individual songs differ from one another. Ultimately these songs are very much part of the same collection. Hitsville, Absolutely Nowhere remains, at least to me, a demo showcase that represents all the different directions I’d like to go regarding genre and scale.”

Regarding genre and scale the songs take in so many musical references and influences it’s often impossible to predict where they will go next. Last year’s stop-gap single, Hellish Horrors & Unlovers, might shed some light on his relatively more mainstream endeavours. “I’ve just spent the majority of my life as some kind of amateur music historian, probably to an irritating extent. People can be quick to compare you to artists and project their own vision of what they see in you. Sometimes they’re right and sometimes they’re wrong. Catch me at the right time and I’ll make a night of talking your ear off about bands but I’m happy to let people continue judging my music in whichever way they may – thanks for listening at all.”

One thing an increasing number of fans would like to see is these amazing songs performed live and, ever the perfectionist, Michael is still looking for that winning formula before he unleashes it on the stage. What can we expect I wondered? “I’d like to say you can expect something fantastic! I don’t think I could settle to offer less. Whether or not I ever get to play a show, fantastic or otherwise, is another story. Whatever happens, know I’m working tirelessly to make it happen.”


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