Michael Lee of The Rising
Michael Lee is the vocalist for a band known as The Rising. How many people do YOU know that would leave Australia and try to make it as a musician in Atlanta? -This proves one thing to me. Atlanta is becoming THE place to introduce new bands and new music. –Let’s see what this man had to say! Read on…
MI-What is your birth date?
Michael-October 29th 1978.
MI-Describe your music to me.
Michael-It is very melodic. I like to write music where you can kind of forget yourself in the music. –It is one of those things for diving down the street at two o’clock in the morning. It is good rock and roll, you know.
MI-If you were stranded on a desert island, and could bring one book, one person, one cd -who would that person, book, cd be?
Michael-The one book I would bring would be Brave New World. The one cd, I would have to say Rush Of Blood to the Head by Coldplay-the one person would be Sheryl Crow so she could sing me to sleep (laughing)-and make me forget about my misery.
MI-Who are the members of the band?
Michael-Ari Gorman on bass, Kevin Haaland – guitar, Kirke Jan – drums, and Robb Torres – guitar.
MI-So tell me how the band got together.
Michael-Through a process. Through friends. I had finished the album musically-which kind of sucked, but I was able to go look for the guys I wanted to be in a band with. –It was actually pretty cool because they had the music and they knew what I was all about. I was able to choose from hundreds of guys the guys that I wanted to be in a band with. –I never wanted to do a solo thing. I always wanted to be on a band situation. In a situation where five guys were responsible for doing the writing-although the first album didn’t turn out that way the second, third an forth albums will-on and on.
MI-Tell me who your musical influences are.
Michael-I have a wide range-from Neil Finn to Ken Rogers. I love the Beatles. I love U2. All the classics, really.
MI-What is the average day like in the life of Michael Lee?
Michael-For the last couple of years, it has been pretty boring because we have been waiting for this record to get released all over the place.
I get up, I eat some fruit-but now it’s pretty going. We do interviews. We are on the road. We are rehearsing and writing. The band is going and I love it. I am living the dream right now.
MI-Tell me about your music background.
Michael-When I was about seventeen or eighteen, I was in Australia. I didn’t know what I was doing. I was kind of stagnant. My friends urged me to go to America to try and make it. –I was backstage at a concert-Big Day Out Day, and Ken Rogers, one of my idols said reiterated what they said and said-look you know, we are the biggest band in Australia right now and we are really not that big in terms of the world. If you have any chance, go over to America and do it. So, I caught a ride-that was my confirmation and I left. I could have gone anywhere. I could have gone to LA or New York-but I came to Atlanta where there seemed to be a really good music scene going on-especially in 1998 when I first came over here. When I think about all the bands coming out of there at that time, from Matchbox to Creed-that whole region. And then there was the history-REM and Black Crows and stuff. I thought okay-that could be a little bit of a better scene for me where I would get swallowed up so soon and so fast. –IT turned out great for me. Atlanta-I call that home now, and I absolutely love that area. I can’t wait to go back.
MI-What pushed you to become a musician?
Michael-Lack of school ability (laughing). When I was seventeen, I sang in front of my school and it was really just through the roof. I can’t ever lose that feeling again. That’s what I am striving for every time I sing. –You are able to just make people forget about what is going on in their lives. It is just entertainment, and that is just the greatest gift to me.
MI-Who is your hero?
Michael-Michael Jordan. His integrity, -his ability to make people rise to the occasion, and his never ending drive-that’s neat.
MI-If you could open for anyone, who would it be?
Michael-I would really like to open for Neil Finn or The Stirrings. The Neil Finn part of it-he is just someone that I absolutely respect. His audience just comes to Rock and Roll, and that is the sort of audience that I would like to have for this band.
MI-What are your goals as a musician?
Michael-Just to make a connection with as many people as I can, and to have my band make as many good records as it can. Whatever it takes to keep making good records, I want to do.
MI-If a genie came to you and granted you three wishes, what would they be?
Michael-That my parents could retire. That we have a long, lasting career. Does anyone remember that word anymore in the music business? A career. And, at the end of the day-I am happy.
MI-If you were not a musician, what do you think you would be doing with your life?
Michael-McDonald’s manager, or an artist.
MI-Who would you compare yourself vocally to?
Michael-I have a baritonish voice with a pretty good range-and I get a comparison, and I hate it-no I don’t really hate it. Everyone wants to pigeon hole you all off the time-oh, you sound like Jim, or you sound like Eddie, or you sound like Scott Weiland-anyone with that kind of baritone voice, you know what I mean? MI-People compare you to Morrison? Michael-More with the live aspect. I just sing with passion, and whatever people get from that-that is what I want them to walk away with.
MI-What inspires your lyrics?
Michael-Music. What I hear is music and chords. I get some catch phrases that I think about during the day, but I don’t really spend a lot of time on it. I let the lyrics come out for the first time when I am hearing the music. I don’t have books of poetry that I sift through. For me, that’s not natural.
MI-Who do you think the greatest rock star of all time is?
Michael-Frank Sinatra. It doesn’t get better than him.
MI-If you could have lunch with anybody, living or dead, who would it be?
Michael-Maybe Neil Finn and Jimmy Page.
MI-What comic book character would you want to be?
Michael-Wolverine. I love Wolverine.
MI-Have you ever inhaled?
MI-How do your parents feel about your career?
Michael-They love it.
MI-Do you believe in psychics?
Michael-Yes. I believe that there is something else-the human brain is too amazing for us not to have something else going on.
MI-What would you say your worst job was?
Michael-Working at McDonald’s (laughing).
MI-Where do you see the band in five years?
Michael-Hopefully still touring-that’s all, and making records.
MI-Tell me about the new album coming out.
Michael-Future Unknown. It is a pretty intense period in my life. It is from 2001, and it is an insight from where I was at the time-my relationships with my family and stuff. I wrote about things I had no idea about at the time.
MI-What do you think about the United States actions in the Middle East and Liberia?
Michael-I am sure they have got their good reasons for it. I don’t know if it is wrong or if it is right-let’s put it that way.
MI-Where were you when 9-11 happened and how did it affect you?
Michael-It affected me greatly. I was in Atlanta. It put things in perspective-Atlanta was so far away and Australia at the time. –It makes you realize what is life. For me, I still hold on to that feeling about how great relationships are and how important people are in my life and how you never know when that is going to change.
MI-How would you design a memorial for the victims of 9-11?
Michael-Just as they are doing it now. I think building the building again is great. It lets people know that we are strong, and that we are strong as a nation.
MI-What do you want people to know about you and the band?
Michael-We are passionate musicians and that we never take anything for granted.
MI-What do you think about Kurt Cobain’s diaries being released?
Michael-They were released, to me, under the wrong circumstances-how and when. Someone gave it to me as a gift, and I was a huge Nirvana fan. If you are a fan of Kurt, it is an insight into where he was and how troubled his upbringing was. For me, as a fan, it made me even more of a fan. MI-Do you think he killed himself or do you think he was murdered? Michael-I have seen the documentary and it was certainly challenging. I don’t know.
MI-Tell me what you think of the music industry.
Michael-I think it is quite disposable right now. There are not many bands out right now that I can foresee being here in twenty years. Coldplay is one of the few bands out that I see that can have a long lasting career-like your U2’s, Radiohead and Pearl Jam’s and your Sheryl Crow’s of the world-these people can literally being doing it when they are fifty. There’s not many bands right now that I can see doing that.
MI-What do you think of MTV?
Michael-It is such a powerful medium, and it will never lose that. I just think that with the whole industry the way it is right now and with the influx of reality television, that there isn’t much for people to grasp on to.
MI-What do you think of reality television?
Michael-Unfortunately, I like it. I am a closet watcher.
MI-Do you have a message for your fans?
Michael-Continue to work hard and be grateful.
MI-What is your favorite movie of all time?
Michael-Blood and guts, I can’t help that-Braveheart.
MI-If you could bring anybody back from the dead, who would it be?
Michael-John Lennon, because he just had so much more to say than anyone else that’s ever done anything.
MI-What do you think of Bruce Springsteen taking your band’s name for his album, The Rising?
Michael-It was a happy coincidence, and he is the man.
MI-Give me your favorite quote of all time.
Michael-If you have to shout, your argument is not strong enough.
Michael Lee is just downright intriguing. So he came from Perth, Australia to Atlanta, Georgia in order to become a rock star-and it worked. Atlanta is just getting bigger all of the time isn’t it? Once you live here, people in Atlanta claim you as one of their own. Stop anybody on the street, and they will tell you about the last time they saw Elton John shopping in Tower or the last time they saw one of the Indigo Girls in the Kroger. But don’t worry Michael, we will be in secret awe of you. We like rock stars to live in Atlanta and feel like they can have fucking lives. Rachel Bolan of Skid Row calls Atlanta home now too. Atlanta is happy to have you, and happy to keep you. This town is going to LOVE watching you make it fucking BIG-and so will MusicIncider Magazine.
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