Q & A With Mike Cummings of Backwoods Payback

Q & A With Mike Cummings of Backwoods Payback

XS ROCK: Tell me about the latest band news? Any new projects coming out, live shows or announcements?

Mike:** We are about to release our newest record “Future Slum” on August 3rd. The preorder for the vinyl is up now on our bandcamp. To gear up for its release we are hitting the road for a week later this month and traveling up and down the east coast for a run of shows through Ny CT MA NJ and PA.


XS ROCK: How long has the band been together?

 Mike:** This year marks our 15th as an active living breathing band. Its wild to think about that!


XS ROCK: What was your main motivation for starting or being in a band?

Mike:** Its just something that has always been in me. In some form or another I have always written and sang my own songs. I honestly cant imagine life without creating music.


XS ROCK: What is your music background?

Mike:** I took 4 lessons on the bass guitar when I was 13 years old and hated it. I quit the lessons and started learning things by ear. I played bass exclusively for about 4 years and then started messing with the guitar. All these years later, and I am still messing with it.


XS ROCK: What image do you think your music conveys?

Mike:** It probably on the darker side of things to most, but to me its pure passion.


XS ROCK: What are your immediate music career goals? (Next 1 to 3 years.)

Mike:** Once this record is out I would like to head back to Europe again in late 2018/early 2019. I am sure we will do some more touring stateside in support of it before the end of year as well.  I just want to keep moving forward.


XS ROCK: What are your long-term career goals?

Mike:** I don’t know if I have any besides to continue writing, recording, playing and traveling. If it exists as a career that would be wonderful but not expected. No matter what the music will continue.


XS ROCK: Which do you prefer? Writing new songs and recording or playing for a live audience?

Mike:** Always prefer playing live and touring. The records I tend to view as a means to the show.


Q & A With Mike Cummings of Backwoods PaybackXS ROCK: What are your songs about? (What specific themes do they cover?)

Mike:** They don’t all revolve around one topic specifically. Normally they are personal to me lyrically but I can lend themselves to others interpretations. “Future Slum” is the first concept type of record we have ever really done. The songs follow a story, a saga. And although its not DIRECTLY autobiographical it definitely leans in that direction.


XS ROCK: Do you have any outrageous tour stories from the road? If so, please fill us in.

Mike:** Just traveling in general can be outrageous. There have been long nights, arrests, parties, vehicle problems, friends made, friends lost, etc. Sometimes its hard to grab a single story out of the swirl of them all.


XS ROCK: What’s the strangest request that you’ve ever received from one of your fans?

Mike:** I once had a person ask me to write a song for their ex significant other to attempt to woo them back. Its not my style so I politely declined….i later learned there was a restraining order out and stalking was involved. Glad I passed on that one!


XS ROCK: Were your parents supportive of your aspirations to play in a rock band?

Mike:** My mother has always supported me in this. Whether it was driving my band in high school to our show when we couldn’t get a ride, or picking up record covers from the printer for me when I was on tour and couldn’t get home in time, she has always been there for me and my music. I never take that for granted.


XS ROCK: What are your favorite tracks to play live?

Mike:** I love playing the song Snakes from “fire not reason”. It usually ends our sets and it tends to take on a life of its own depending on the room and the folks that might be feeling the vibe with us. Its fun, its exhilarating.


XS ROCK: Which band or artist inspired you to perform? Why?

Mike:** I’ve always loved Black Flag. Their ethos, their work ethic, their fire and energy. From the moment I heard them I was hooked. The more I learned about HOW they did what they did the more I wanted to follow suit.


XS ROCK: If you could design a dream tour for your band, who would be on the bill?

Mike:** Oh man. Any genre type dream tour? Right now I think I would go with Backwoods Payback, Mudhoney, Mastodon. A cool thread to go through it all but diverse enough to be super weird and fun!


XS ROCK: What do you consider your greatest accomplishment so far?

Mike:** I think playing Roadburn last year is up there with my favorite things we have done so far. Actually just still creating music and making waves after 15 years is pretty cool too


XS ROCK: If you weren’t performing in a band what kind of career do you think you would have?

Mike:** I have always been a writer at heart. From my youngest years I have kept journals and written articles, stories, poems etc. I think if music wasn’t my main focus I would for sure head farther down the writers road.


XS ROCK: What type of equipment do you use for live shows?

Mike:** My live setup is pretty basic, I’m not a super gear head. I run my guitar into two separate rigs and blend them together. Rig one is a mid 80s jcm800 into a Marshall 412 cabinet. Rig two is an early 80s Peavey 400 series head into a 70s Sound City 412 cabinet. I put a Super Fuzz in front of the Peavey and there’s my sound!


Q & A With Mike Cummings of Backwoods PaybackXS ROCK: What do you think of the current music scene?

Mike:** The scene in the Philadelphia PA area is ON FIRE right now. There are SO MANY killer bands here and it feels amazing. There are shows most every night of the week and in just about every genre you can imagine. Even better still, they all work together. It really feels like one giant scene. No joke, I imagine this is what Seattle felt like before the giant boom….you can feel it in the air here. Its real.


XS ROCK: For anyone that doesn’t know you, what would they be surprised to know about you?

Mike:** two words. Vegan Hairstylist.


XS ROCK: If someone had never heard you before, how would you describe your sound?

Mike:** It’s a heavy, passionate, honest sound. Someone once described us as “its like the 90s never died, they just got heavier”. I always dug that.


XS ROCK: Is there anything that you’d like to promote or say to your fans out there?

Mike:** “Future Slum” is out August 3rd on vinyl, CD and all digital platforms. This is the best thing we have ever done and we couldn’t be more proud of it. We can’t wait to bring it to the masses.


XS ROCK: Thanks again for taking the time to talk with us at XS Rock!

Mike:** Thank you for reaching out and helping us spread the word. Means a ton.


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