Mike Renick Band frontman talks about band's latest CD, live shows

Friday, May 20, 2011
The Mike Renick Band (submitted)

Mike Renick Band performances rarely leave a crowd standing still. The energy in the venues is like a pingpong game from the band to the crowd and back. Renick said he got lucky and met a group of guys who just like playing together and playing well, which keeps the gigs fun.

"Whether it's practice or playing out in front of a crowd, the center has always been enjoying what we are doing, and I think that's where it all starts," he said. "Personally, there's more energy from playing a good amount of music over the course of the night that we created on our own."

The band pays homage to their concerts on a new CD, "Stuck on You," which features five new studio recordings and five live versions of often-played songs.

The new album is available at PMac Music, Hastings, www.mikerenickband.com, iTunes, Amazon.com and live shows.

Renick and Blake Fisher will play an acoustic show from 9 p.m. to midnight Saturday at The Library as part of a multiple sclerosis fundraiser.

SEL: How does this album differ from "Lucky One"?

MR: The "Stuck on You" CD differs some because it's a mix of newly recorded songs and live tracks. We recorded five new songs and then added five of our favorites from a couple live shows over the past year. Musically, the new songs differ because I think, and hope, the music continues to evolve and that the group is getting better at recording and songwriting.

SEL: What made you guys decide to go back to the studio?

MR: The five songs that we recorded I like and wanted to be able to get them in the hands of people. One of the first CDs we did was called "Studio Sessions 2005," and that really helped get the music out because we basically burned copies and gave them out for free or for a small donation when we played live. Next thing you know, people were requesting and singing songs from that CD. With this disc we wanted to do the same. We're only asking $5 for the disc, or if you're at a show and have no cash we'll give you one. Just want to get the music out!

SEL: You said the disc has five new studio tracks and then five live "favorites." How'd you pick out the live tracks?

MR: Nick Essner is our sound engineer and he records every show. We picked the five live tracks from two different shows that we felt had the best sound quality. We kind of had some songs in mind that we hear people request and then looked for the best quality recordings we could find. ... The songs came from either the 2010 BBQ Fest at Arena Park or the 2010 Red Letter Roof Romp.

SEL: Mike Renick Band is all about the live performances. How do you guys transfer that sound to the studio while keeping the original feel?

MR: The usual course of action has been working up new songs in practice, playing them live, then recording them. By the time we record them we don't have to work a whole lot out as far as song structure goes, but the hardest part is transferring the "live" energy into the studio. We've tried tricks like bringing our friends into the studio as an "audience" to play for and this time around we toyed with a few bells and whistles to add some other layers to the recordings.

SEL: A lot of bands have come and gone in Cape Girardeau for general reasons like a move or a new job or relationship or child. How is MRB still going strong?

MR: At this point the guys in the group make the group a priority in their life, even with other obligations like work or family. Not to repeat myself, but striving to play good music is what I think drives everyone. Also, we each have our own strengths that we bring to the group that goes beyond just playing music but is important to keeping the music afloat. I point again to our sound engineer Nick Essner. Nick works so hard for the band behind the scenes with website design, marketing, etc. You've got to have people like that who are dedicated to keeping the train going to keep it going. Finally, luckily we've been able to play music that people enjoy hearing and we continue to try and reintroduce ourselves to new groups of people who haven't heard us. Whether it be in Cape or out of town.

SEL: I see different players occasionally at live shows. What's the official lineup?

MR: Ha! I wish I knew myself. The group started with myself (acoustic guitar/vocals), Blake Fisher (electric guitar/vocals), Wes Grabel (sax), Bryan West (drums), Pat Koetting (bass), Scott Bierschwal (keyboards). Due to life changes and some folks moving away, Scott and Pat left the group. Currently, we have Jarred Harris playing bass on a decently regular basis and on occasion we are honored to have Scotty B. sit back in with us on the keys.

SEL: And then who are the substitutes who step in?

MR: Zach Priester played with us for a couple years, and he will sit in on electric guitar or bass. He knows all the music so it's an easy fill in.

SEL: Is there anybody you feel has really helped the band along the way?

MR: I can't go without mentioning Bruce Zimmerman and the Water Street Band. I don't know how many Sunday nights I spent watching them play and really being inspired by what they did and do, often times heading home right after watching them and picking up my guitar. Also, when I first started playing around town I approached many of the guys from Bruce's band about helping me out and they were more than willing to record and play some shows. So thanks Danny, Bruce, Scotty and Ralph! There are countless others who have helped in some way, but Doc Cain and Mark [Weber] and Todd [Henneman] at Rude Dog were the first couple places that let our band play, and it's cliche, but everyone who has come to watch and continues to come to watch. You can't really keep something like a band rolling with out people coming out to support you.

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