Monday, February 21st, 2011

Emerging Artist Interview: Michael Dante Summonte

Michael Dante Summonte

What was the first record/cassette/CD that you owned and how did it change you?
This is kinda funny, but I believe my first piece of music that I owned was a cassette tape of Jim Carrey, performing Desi Arnaz's signature song, "Cuban Pete," on the soundtrack for the film, "The Mask." It didn't really change me at all, but I thought it was the coolest thing since Pogs.

My second cassette tape, however, that changed me--that was Green Day's, "Dookie." I thought it was the greatest album ever. I asked my mom to buy me a guitar for my birthday after hearing that album. (funny story.. I was listening to 'Basketcase' on my walkman, driving somewhere with my mom.. Then, I asked her, "Hey mom, what's a whore?")

If you could pick any musician's brain over a beer, who would it be?
I'd love to have a beer with Beethoven. (I was maybe gonna say Bach, but he worked for the church, so he probably wouldn't be too cool on that.) In my opinion, he was the first Rock Star. Not only a musical genius and innovator, but his personality alone could fill up a concert hall. And he was kinda crazy--which is always a plus.

Name your dream tour: up to 5 bands, dead or alive.
Hmm, that's really tough.. but off-hand, I'll go with these.. Rolling Stones (Brian Jones era), Bob Dylan with his original band (a.k.a., The Band), the Miles Davis quintet, Django Reinhardt & Stéphane Grappelli, Radiohead.

I know it's unlikely these groups would do a tour together, coming from all different musical backgrounds and eras.. but I can dream, can't I?

Who are you musically influenced by that no one would ever guess by listening to your music?
No one would ever guess that I'm influenced by Björk. You don't really hear her influence an any overt way in my music. But her influence is there--in terms of the spirit and creative approach/mentality.

I think an artist should have total creative freedom in their music--not only when it comes to content, but even when it comes to their work method.. and I think Björk has a similar kind of mindset in that respect. It's the same reason I love Radiohead. And the Beatles.

What's the most memorable musical moment of your life?
The most memorable musical moment of my life would have to be when I met Pete Seeger, and helped him to tune his banjo. I was invited by a friend to attend an environmental seminar, that Seeger just happened to be attending.

Long story short, he walks around behind me at this seminar (me with a guitar), turns and asks, "Hey, can you play me a G?", which I proceed to do, in total shock. He tunes up and says, "Thanks. G's the people's key!" and goes on his way.

It was an amazing experience. He was the coolest, most humblest guy in the world. I have the utmost respect for him--both as a performer, and as an advocate for civil rights. He stood up for what he believed it, and like his contemporary Woody Guthrie, served as a voice for the underclass and underprivileged.