I believe there is no way you can ever really know someone all the way. They will always do something you didn’t expect, say something you never saw coming, make a choice that shocks you. Well, eventually they will.
Now, I feel like I know this guy. But in most interviews we get these days people tend to ask same-ish questions. When did you start playing drums? How did you develop your sound? Who are your musical heroes?
But for me, who you ARE shapes the art you make even more than who you listen to. So I decided to interview my Musical-Soul-Mate myself and let him shock me. And he did. Enjoy.
Kat Downs: Thanks for joining me here tonight, Mike.
Mike Thompson: (From across the room) Is the whiskey in your bag?
KD: It’s not often I get to sit down face to face with one of my favorite musicians and really pick their brain, so I really appreciate you taking the time.
MT: (looking at me like I’ve lost it) What? What are you talking about? Where is it?
KD: Yes, it’s in my bag.
MT: Okay. (Pause) Found it. (drinks) It’s so good when it hits your lips.
KD: Yes, yes.
What is your earliest memory?
MT: What? Why are you asking me that? (Hands me the bottle)
KD: I’m interviewing you. What is your first memory?
MT: Why are you interviewing me? (Takes the bottle back)
KD: Just answer the freaking question, will you? Humor me.
MT: Alright weirdo.
I guess my earliest memory is my brother coming home. I was sucking my thumb, and I asked my Mom who he was and when he was going home.
KD: Oh my god, that’s amazing. How old would you have been?
MT: Two. (laughes)
KD: Brilliant. Do you remember what she said?
MT: Not really. She probably said he isn’t going home or something to that effect. Haha.
KD: How honest are you? As a person.
MT: Um, I’d say probably like, 85%. Maybe. Depends on the situation I guess.
KD: Why do you like washing dishes?
MT: I find it meditative. I just zone out. It can be very relaxing.
KD: Would you consider yourself more of a hunter or a gatherer?
MT: What’s the difference? Isn’t a hunter also a gatherer?
KD: No- gatherers don’t kill animals.
MT: Oh. Well I don’t want to kill any animals. I love animals. BUT – I do love eating meat. So I guess I’m a gatherer. Well, but I guess in a past life I would have been a hunter, but now I’m a gatherer. Like, I’m not a hunter now because I don’t have to be. Does that make sense? But wait, is this literal or metaphorical?
KD: That’s up to you. However you want to interpret the question.
MT: Okay. Well that would be the literal answer then. Metaphorically I am a hunter. Like with music and my career and how I go after things. Hunter all the way.
KD: How old were you the first time you fell in love?
MT: 15 or 16? My high school girlfriend.
KD: Looking back now, how did it change you?
MT: What? Falling in love?
MT: Um, I guess it just helped me realize to appreciate when you have a really good woman at your side. ‘Cause they’re not always like that. But just because you love someone doesn’t mean they are the right person for you. And that it’s okay to continue to love someone even if you know you can’t be with them.
KD: What’s something you don’t like about yourself?
MT: My impatience. It can be crippling.
KD: Really? It can get that bad?
MT: Sometimes. It’s weird though, it’s only with certain things. It’s not like I’m impatient with everything and then have to muster up patience to deal with things. Some things I’m very naturally patient with, and that doesn’t take any extra energy.
KD: Does being impatient take energy?
MT: Yes. It’s very draining.
KD: If you were standing naked in a shop window holding a sign that said only one word, what would that word be?
MT: (laughs) What??
KD: One word.
MT: I think I’m over thinking it.
KD: Take your time. I’m not in a hurry.
(Time passes. A lot of it.)
MT: I guess it would have to be “Machine”
KD: I can see that. Moving on.
KD: Can you name all seven dwarves?
MT: Um, Stinky, Scrappy, Nappy, Smelly – no, not Smelly. Shorty, um, Bob. Scooter. What? Aren’t those the names? Why are you laughing? And then there was, what’s his name? Haywood.
KD: (laughing so hard no sound is coming out)
MT: What? Was I right?
KD: I can’t. I just…can’t.
(Pausing here for all the laughter to subside)
KD: When you were in grade school what were you obsessed with? Before girls.
MT: Well, I started playing drums in what, 4th grade? So that’s sort of what I was obsessed with. That’s the same time I started discovering all the cool classic rock stuff. ‘Cause I would play along with the records. So like, Zeppelin, Hendrix, etc. It was what my Dad would play in the house. We’d listen to classic rock in the car and he’d tell me about the bands and stuff. And his band would come over and play at the house. So really, music is what I was obsessed with.
KD; For you, what is the most difficult or challenging part of being an independant musician?
MT: Making money. Obviously. Getting people to realize your worth as a vital member of society. Without music there would be chaos. I mean, we are working members of society. We are part of the workforce and people take us for granted. It’s bullshit. I’d like to try an experiment where you take some people and make them live with no music. None. Not one note. For like, a week. And see how exciting their lives are. See how their emotions are. I mean, none. No TV, no movies, grocery stores, absolutely nothing, and see how they like it.
KD: I wonder if anyone’s done a study like that.
MT: I’d like to read it if they did. People don’t realize how dependent they are on music.
KD: What question do you always wish they would ask you in an interview?
MT: How’d you get to be so awesome? Haha – no, i’m kidding. How do you measure one’s talent- Yours or anyone elses?
KD: Oh! Good one! How would you?
MT: Yeah, I knew that was coming. Is that a legit question, or are we just talking?
KD: Yeah, let’s call it a question.
MT: For me, talent lies in conception and not really in physical skill. You can teach your muscles to do anything, but if you can’t adapt to the song you’re playing or add something interesting then where’s the talent? It’s how you apply your ideas that make you truly great.
KD: Wow. That is super insightful.
MT: Do you disagree?
KD: No, not at all. I just never really thought about it like that.
MT: Oh yeah. I mean, I’ve heard one note guitar solos that make me buckle at the knee because it was SO PERFECT. It’s all on how you apply the idea.
KD: What does it feel like when you’re playing music?
MT: It feels like I’m right where I belong.
KD: What does your body feel like?
MT: It feels invincible. It only hurts when I stop playing. Then I can feel all the pains in my body. I feel important. Like I’m actually contributing something worthwhile. If I couldn’t play I wouldn’t really know what my place in the world would be.
KD; Which songs lyrically resonate with who you are? Like if you had to use a few songs to describe to someone who you are, what would they be?
MT: Um, “TNT”
KD: By AC/DC?
KD: That’s it?
MT: Yup. Dy-no-mite.
KD: Alrighty then.