I am not a rockstar. I am not a rockstar. I am NOT a rockstar... They say the first step toward overcoming a problem is admitting you have one. And, if not being a rockstar can be considered a problem (as I?ve been told by many in my industry)... well then... I?m here to admit it. I am not a rockstar, I have never BEEN a rockstar, nor do I ever PLAN on being a rockstar. I don?t party ?til dawn, trash hotel rooms or demand "where IS my deli tray?" upon entering a dressing room. I don?t wear dark sunglasses in an already dark restaurant, have absolutely no tattoos, and try my damndest when meeting new people never to act (as my wife aptly puts it) too-cool-for-school. (oh yeah, I?m married... and, I have a kid... VERY un-rockstar-like...) I almost never kick my piano bench out of the way in mock intensity while performing, and I?ll state for the record right here, right now that the only way I?ll be horse-galloping my way around a stage at age 55 (a la Steven Tyler of Aerosmith) is if the local VFW is hosting a "kid?s night" and my grandkids are demanding piggyback rides... So what am I, you ask? I?m a singer-songwriter. I write songs, I record songs, I play songs. Almost all of my time and energy goes into those three things. When I?m not busy writing, recording, or performing, I live in the sticks, watch the occasional football game on Sundays, and drive... wait for it... a minivan. That?s right. Suburbia-gold-colored and all, baby... If all of this un-rockstar-like normalcy makes you cringe at the mere THOUGHT of listening to my music, then I say thanks for stopping by and happy trails. I?m not here to fool you into thinking I?m something I?m not. I?ve been down that road and honestly, it doesn?t work. You?re too smart for that. You?ll figure it out sooner or later, and when you do, you?ll resent me for not having been honest in the first place... If, however, all of this makes you say "Bravo! My minivan?s green and I wear high-waisted jeans!" well then... let?s move right along to the bio...
Conventional wisdom tells us that a bio is typically: a) a brief history of notable life events, b) a running list of accomplishments, and c) a testament to the artists? current and future greatness (all wrapped up in witty repartee with an occasional self-deprecating remark thrown in for good measure). Basically, a method by which I, the artist, convince you, the reader, that I?m brilliant, successful, and larger-than-life. But, as we finished mixing the new record over the past few weeks, I began to think... ummm... no. I?ve done those bios before, and whereas they do a decent job of communicating what I?ve accomplished musically-speaking, they don?t really speak to the songs themselves. And, this time around, honestly, I?d rather talk about that. Fill you in a little on the meaning behind the songs and the events that inspired them. So with that in mind...
My daughter, Fiona, was born at the end of September 2004. There you have it. The biggest event to happen in my life... ever. It?s been said time and time again that, "having a kid changes everything," but man... I had no idea. The overwhelming love, the joy, the worry. Never before have I felt so many emotions in such a short space of time. It has truly changed my life in every way. And, not only since her birth, but prior to it as well. I had nine months to ponder the life changes her arrival would usher in, and it was during that time that I wrote the songs for "Like Normal People Do." At the time, I don?t think I fully realized just how much her impending birth was affecting me, but looking back at the lyrics now, it?s glaringly apparent just how much it was. For those of you who don?t have kids, I can only explain it by saying that the pressures that come with having a child have a unique way of heightening emotions and forcing you to examine every aspect of your life. And, in my case, the questions... oh... they did abound... Will I be a good parent, will I be able to provide for her, will my relationships change, will I, can I, should I...??? All of these questions bounced continually around in my head, and in the end, even if a particular song wasn?t about her per se, it was, almost without fail, emotionally influenced by her arrival. I spent many many MANY hours examining my life and the lives of those around me in an attempt to make sense of it all, and I think that search for answers is what shaped these songs. From examining my career (More/Sight Unseen/One Of These Days) to my relationships (Brave/Catch Your Fall/Stay) to the relationships of those close to me (Back For Me/Go On/Days Gone By) to the existence and influence of a god in our lives (God In This Moment), the songs on this album, as disparate as they may seem at times, all have one common thread, that of having been influenced by one overwhelmingly emotional event in my life. Interestingly enough, though, I think it took an event as monumental as Fiona?s birth to make my songwriting as confessional as it?s become on this album. A friend once told me there comes a distinct point in every artist?s career when he stops trying to be the artists he loves, and instead becomes... the artist he is. At the time, I didn?t fully grasp the magnitude of that statement. In my head, I believed I?d always BEEN my own artist. That I could not only recognize the bits and pieces borrowed from the artists who influenced me, but separate those elements from my own sense of artistry. But in recent months, as the final versions of these songs took shape, for the first time, I really got it. And sitting here now, I truly feel like I?ve found a voice of my own. For me, this is that distinct point in time. From the opening bombast of Brave to the closing solitude of One Of These Days, this album says what I want to say, as directly as I can say it. It?s an examination of life - my life and the lives of those around me. And, hopefully better than any conventional bio could ever do, it explains the hopes, loves, and fears that have jostled around in my head throughout the last couple of years... So, with that, I say... enjoy. Make these songs your own. They?re yours now...
(If, after reading this, you?re thinking "Outstanding! Glad to hear it... but what have you ACTUALLY accomplished in the last few years?" Then look no further, my friend. We?ve posted the 2004 conventional-wisdom bio below. Chock full of accomplishments, witty repartee, and the occasional self-deprecating remark... :) Enjoy...)
Gavin Mikhail - Biography
"I was raised on the CLASSICS," Gavin laughs from behind the piano in his Nashville-based recording studio. "You know... Tiffany, Bananarama... Wham... With two older sisters fully embracing the 80?s, I was screwed from the start... I mean c?mon, I recorded ?Let?s Hear It For The Boy? back to back on a cassette so I wouldn?t have to waste time rewinding it between listenings... How sad is that?"
With a tongue-in-cheek candor characteristic of his stage performance, Gavin happily owns up to his sketchy musical past and subtly underscores just how far he?s come. Whereas some artists would have been permanently scarred by such bleak musical beginnings, he learned to build on those early pop influences, creating a sound today as powerful as it is beautiful. Equal parts Vanessa Carlton and Dashboard Confessional, Gavin?s songs are driven by rhythmic piano, soaring vocals, and unforgettable melodies, truly capturing the listener from start to finish.
Gavin began his musical career at the age of 7, studying classical piano and pipe organ under the watchful eye of his mother, an unrelenting force when it came to the artistic endeavors of her children. As a result of her focus, he was winning regional piano competitions by 10 and performing organ in churches by 12. By the time he was a freshman at Purdue, Gavin had begun fronting bands, and upon graduating, made the decision to pursue music. "Ironically, I was graduating with a degree in finance," he smiles. "And, don&..39;t get me wrong, finance is great. But, I wanted to be a stockbroker about as much as I wanted rickets... Sensing my ?loss of direction,? my parents kept hoping that maybe a random love of dentistry would appear out of nowhere. But yeah... that never materialized..."
And so, acting on instinct alone, Gavin packed up and moved to Nashville. It was hard going at first, but within months, he had landed a job in the A/R department at Giant Records and began experiencing the inner-workings of the music industry. While at the label, he filled his free time writing with and producing pop artist Sally Anthony, and upon the release of her first album, he quit Giant to go on tour. Throughout the next two years, they shared the stage with artists such as Barenaked Ladies, Oasis, The Black Crowes, Christina Aguilera, and The Wallflowers, and the Mikhail/Anthony penned songs were downloaded over 140,000 times from mp3.com. In one 4-week period alone, seven of the songs were firmly stationed on the mp3 Top 40 chart, edging out songs by artists such as Pink, Nelly, Madonna, and Michelle Branch.
Breaking ties with Sally in 2002, Gavin refocused on his own music, releasing "My Personal Beauty Needs" in the fall of 2003. Said to be a "truly original pop/rock sound" by MTV, the songs quickly found a home on pop radio and in television shows such as MTV?s "Dismissed." Building on that exposure, Gavin spent the beginning of the following year putting a band together and playing shows throughout the southeast. "I?ve finally found a group of guys who understand my vision for each song," he states. "And I think it shows onstage."
With a recent showcase performance at the Nashville Music Conference, a semi-finalist spot in the Nashville GRAMMY Showcase, extensive top 40 presence on the mp3 pop/rock charts, and glowing reviews in several prominent publications, Gavin?s career continues to gain momentum in 2004. Currently in the studio recording songs for his follow up album, he will hit the road again at the start of 2005, winning over fans and critics alike. "Music is my life," he says. "Feeling the crowd connect with what I do inspires me to write songs that return the favor - I love it."