What is your name and role within the The Mystery Lights?
My name is Mike Brandon and I am the guitarist / lead singer and songwriter for The Mystery Lights.
How did you start?
L.A. (Luis Alfonso, guitar player) and I started the band with our buddy Joe Della-Mora when we were in high school. Having a similar taste for punk music and skateboarding, we started playing together all the time. We locked ourselves in an auto mechanic shop on Commission St. in Salinas, California, wrote tons of songs, and recorded lots demos. After two years of hiding, the band finally came out and started playing around town. We played small shows here and there in California, not taking it too seriously. Shortly after Joe took over his father’s business and our drummer at the time (Stephen Miller) got busy with School. After a long break, LA and I came out to New York City to hang with friends and play some music with no real plans. It was fast-paced and diverse compared to our home town and felt like a good place to make some music. Still not really taking that seriously, we just played with friends who wanted to be a part of the action. Things began to pick up. With more and more show offers, we were playing more frequently and eventually solidified a solid lineup. That’s where we met Daptone, released a record and then began doing extensive touring.
Where are you based?
We are currently based in Ridgewood Queens New York City, but the band did originally start in Salinas, California.
Please give an example of your music writing process?
The writing process comes about in many different ways. Sometimes I wake up with a melody or riff in my head and I immediately pick up the guitar and record it on voice memo. Then I begin hearing many other parts. Once the idea is there, I bring it to the boys who then had their own elements to it. Then once the song is nice and structured, the lyrics begin to boil. That’s one way a song comes about anyway. Or sometimes one of the guys has an idea/riff and brings it to the table, then we all throw our ideas into it. After everyone has thrown in their ideas, I’ll take it, structure it, then add lyrics to it.
What are you working on right now?
We are currently working on the next album which is predicted to come out sometime early next year (2018). But you’ll see some new music pop up before then promoting the album (45, music videos, singles , etc.).
What is your gear setup?
I play a Gibson 335 through a fender hot rod deluxe amp, and use a golden tuner pedal, boss dd7 pedal, boss tremolo.
Luis plays a phantom guitar works through a deluxe reverb, and uses a fuzz face, and an echo dream.
Alex plays a Gibson grabber bass out of a fender baseman 10 .
Pretty basic set up really.
What do you like to do outside of music and does it affect your music?
We do normal things really, like drink heavily, eat gluttonously, read, write, camp, play video/board games, gamble, lay low, go to shows occasionally, watch movies, have lots of sex, swim, work out (rarely), skate (though not as much as we use to), go to the beach (the guys more than I), draw (except me really, I draw terribly), photograph/videography (Luis does this a lot for work on the side), bbq (just set up the backyard, lots of BBQ parties to come..)
The experiences I have doing the things I love to do outside of music, definitely has an influence on my music and the lyrics in some way.
How would you describe your music genre?
Hmm. I’m not even sure anymore. Things have changed so much in relation to the bands style and influential lately to be honest… And i’m not very good at categorizing. Especially with people each having their own idea in their head of what each genre is. Rock’n’roll to me, is something entirely different to somebody else.
Do you know any music theory?
Some what, here and there. I wouldn’t call myself a pro by any means haha.
What are your plans for the future?
We are currently working on a new album which we plan on being finished with by the end of summer and hopefully have release beginning of next year. Other than that, we are playing a few festivals this summer in Europe, and plan to hit China in October.
How did you get into music?
My father. He use to play the bass and I really wanted to play drums, so he bought me my first kit when I was 8 and we use to jam together. Good times. He also gave me my first guitar. He introduced me to all the classic 80’s hair metal music that he was into at the time . Motley Crue, Ratt, poison, etc…….Duran Duran. Then Grandma bought me a little electronic keyboard one year for christmas which I picked up and began learning. I also played in the band orchestra in middle school where I was the percussionist (bells, snare, timpani, bongos, cymbals, stuff like that). Middle school / high school is when I began getting introduced to good punk, blues, hip hop,, rock’n’roll, garage rock psych stuff. Friends making me cd mixes, stuff like that. Then from there went the domino effect of music discovery, eventually spawning the thought to start a band of my own.
What are you listening to at the moment?
Lots of old soul music, and African psychedelic. Also a bunch of minimal synth records and gospel.
A few albums I’ve had on repeat lately would be :
- Mamman Sani: Unreleased tapes 1981-1984 (the song Arman Doley is so good)
- All albums by the Gnozi Family
- “Good God! Apocryphal hymns” (gospel compilation)
- Carla dal forno “you know what it’s like “
- Sensational fix “music is painting in the air”
Who are your top 5 influences and icons?
Alan watts, eastern/western philosopher
Huey P Newton of the black panther part for self defense
Joe Della Mora (one of the founding fathers of the mystery lights , no longer playing with us today, but very much still alive)
Michael Mcdagger /Gabe salinas / Luke king (hometown buddies who heavily effected my life)
When are you playing next?
We played prima vera festival last weekend ,Now we are on a 2 week eu tour through France, Switzerland, Italy and then the Netherlands. Couple EU festivals this summer and then china in October . Not sure what else other than that. Hopefully Australia!
Featured Photo Credit Jessica Calvo