Mike Renick sounds off

Tuesday, May 2, 2006
Mike Renick loves to have a mic in his face. (Fred Lynch photo)

His easy-going brand of acoustic infused rock has made him one of the most popular live acts in Cape Girardeau, and that's just a couple of years after he got started.

Not to mention you probably hear his name almost every day as a radio personalities with River Radio. His name is Mike Renick, that bearded bard who's nothing if not a nice guy. This month OFF sat down with Renick to talk about Peter Gabriel, opera and, of course, marathon running.

OFF: Are you from the area or are you a transplant?

Mike Renick: I've been here since sixth grade. I was born in Minnesota and lived there a few years, then moved over by Clinton, Missouri ... southeast of Kansas City.

I finished grade school, high school and went to college here.

OFF: Cape Central?

MR: I went to Notre Dame.

OFF: That reminds me, you act, as well as sing and play guitar. You started out doing that at Notre Dame, right?

MR. Yeah, pretty well. Really the first thing that I did -- there's always those little grade school plays and stuff -- but really the first thing, the summer before my freshman year of high school I was in a pretty big production, then I started doing musicals at Notre Dame. And I was in musicals all four years there.

OFF: Did that continue into college?

MR: I was in a couple of musicals when I was in college, I was in a one-act play, I did some music theater workshop stuff. Not a ton.

OFF: And as an alum you still act in Southeast productions. You were in "Art," you were in "The Tender Land."

MR: I hadn't done anything in a while, SEMO or not, so whenever I got asked to do both of those, it was something I'd been wanting to do for a little while, so it was good timing.

OFF: Was opera singing kind of weird for you?

MR: That was definitely musically the hardest thing I've ever done. I've sang classical style before, but the opera, I'm glad it was in English.

There's no, like in a pop song or rock song you have that melody that's easy to follow, there's no melody. The notes jumped everywhere and it was something I've never done, and you had to grab your note out of thin air a lot of times. It was a challenge, but I'm glad I did it.

OFF: When did you start having an interest in music?

MR: In general, it's just something I've always been around. AS a kid, there was always music playing in the house. You know, you end up singing along to stuff, you realize you're able to carry a tune, and I just got involved with the stuff, in all aspects.

In some ways it's kind of a natural progression. I got into the, I guess the popular music scene, that side of things. In high school, music took on a little different formula for me, and really when I was playing the guitar it was one of those things that, kind of as a personal goal, I figured it was more challenging to write your own stuff, as opposed to learning the song that 3,000 people have learned.

Really it just kind of started going from there.

OFF: Well what kind of music do you listen to?

MR: I'm trying to think of what's in my CD changer right now. Really I like a wide variety of stuff.

I've always been into rhythm, so I've always liked music that's got a rhythm and music that kind of makes you move, and a melody that's pretty or catches you.

I always say my top five artists I really like a lot are Peter Gabriel, Sting and the Police, Norah Jones, Dave Matthews and Jack Johnson. But like right now I have Allison Krauss in my car and a 70s mix CD.

I really love Motown a lot. That comes a lot from my dad because he's big into that.

From a music writing standpoint you need to listen to a lot of styles of music, because you have a broader scope to draw from whenever you're writing a song.

OFF: So between playing multiple shows a week, acting and working what do you do to relax?

MR: I run a lot. I run marathons.

I ran one in December 2005 and one in April last year, and I'm going to run another one in October. That's very, very time consuming, too.

Part of the music and scheduling has run into that, because you can't run on a consistent basis when you're playing music in the evenings, or being involved with these plays.

It's one of the things that I got into doing. I really never ran a whole lot when I was younger, but in my early 20s I started running, three or four miles, a few times a week, then I thought my goal was to try and run a marathon.

It's nice just to go and have your cell phone put away and be able to run.

And I like getting outside and camping, and all that stuff.

OFF: Lately you've been playing shows outside the local area. Do you think you'll leave Cape Girardeau for a bigger market?

MR: I don't know. If it happens to where you can, yeah, you want to go.

But I'd say for right now, stay around here and play. I know that we play a lot, and there's that fear of playing too much, and it's nice to go to another place where no one has any idea what your music is like and no preconceived ideas of what they're going to hear.

Cape's a good location, because you're five hours from a lot of places, St. Louis, Memphis, Carbondale, Nashville, those are easy weekend trips. It would be cool to just establish something in the Midwest.

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