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themikeviola

#superkidfriday no45.1987. a TASCAM 4track studio was set up in my bedroom as a place to go and splash sound around alone.I didn’t have to ask friends to come over.I didn’t have to talk to anybody or try and explain what I was hearing in my head.I could burrow until I found something or nothing at all,wasting nobodys time but my own.no guide no teacher no internet no oracle with all the answers a few keystrokes away,I looked to records.I borrowed some from my friend Danny who introduced me to Gram Parsons, Joni Mitchell, Randy Newman and the late 60’s early 70’s Beach Boys. I set out to write songs not just jams built for bar flies in the local rock scene.These recordings are probably the worst I’ve ever done but they are important because they showed me how to be an artist, how to stick with the process and walk through the bullshit without fear to find the other side where all the freaks and just a few notes that ring together can change your life and make you feel like you are an artist and to keep you off the well tread paths that lead from high school to college or full time jobs.You find your own on the sidelines digging tunnels quietly through the night,learning to escape from the invisible prison bars of radio waves and television waves,micro waved frozen dinners,light cigarettes,light beer,in a room of people that agree with everything you say.The stuff that will kill you or turn you to Jell-O. On the sidelines I drank too much Guinness smoked Marlboro reds and talked about James Joyce and books I didn’t really understand but wanted to. Worked at Tower Records where I met my freak friends that disagreed with me, showed me the tension of punk rock the blue mohawked and purple spiked kids on Mass Ave that laughed at my stupid songs but came to every show to encourage me and heckle my love for the Beach Boys.The TASCAM PortaOne 4 track studio was a portal. Within a year I had moved out of my mom’s house to Kenmore Square under the Citgo sign that splashed red white and blue neon across my apartment every night where I stayed up trying like a fool to find my own version of God Only Knows until the fingers of dawn pulled the sun from that dirty water

themikeviola

#superkidfriday 44.1983.This gig was at Jumbo’s in Somerville.I’m bending all the notes here, first time blazed on stage. In 1976 my dad built a fully stocked bar in our suburban basement and when the teenage years rolled around we dipped into each colorful bottle, just a little out of each one, poured into a glass and snuck out to our fort in the woods behind the house to pass it around and muscle it down,the glow of my parents’ bedroom TV flickering on the lawn and the hiss of summer nights in the distance.We called it jungle juice and it got us pretty hammered.One August Saturday night we finally got caught.Chris’s dad found Dave passed out in the middle of C street and had to carry him home.My dad bent Dave over the kitchen sink, half smoked Winston dangling out of his mouth, definitely a few Buds deep himself, and put his fingers down his throat, all the time laughing nervously, trying to both lighten the mood for my mom and to scare us all a little bit.We drove him to the hospital in Brockton to get his stomach pumped. Next morning, my dad put his big fist through Dave’s bedroom door and told him to get the fuck out of bed. First thing this morning “the kids” had to tear down the fort. He wanted it gone when he returned from work.Instead we called up Chris and a few other friends and we put the fort on a few two by fours and walked it down the street and buried it,made ourselves an underground fort with a door on the ceiling, like in Hogan’s Heroes.Around that time, weed came into our lives and the first time I got truly high, was in the underground fort in the pitch black with my friend Sean egging me on. I ran out of the woods in terror and tried to find a mirror so I could check my face to make sure I was still me.Typical stuff really. Eventually I made it home and my dad was there, early from work, he let me pass without question, saw the fort was gone and just went quiet on me. Thank God. I guess I still had my own face. You could hide when you high but got caught when you were drunk. Good to know. I had a gig to do, he was driving 128 was jammed we crawled to Somerville and all I was thinking about the whole time was getting back underground

themikeviola

#superkidfriday no43.1981.Backyard Jams. We were all pretending to be somewhere special and rare but we were really just in this guy Bill’s backyard on a freezing New England Saturday afternoon.This was something we did often, jamming in friends’ backyards until the cops came. Zoom in and look at the set list at my feet. there’s a good 2 ½ hours worth of songs listed when in fact we probably had 40 minutes tops, I would improvise the rest on the spot and Todd and Boey would do their best to follow me. we were best friends and listened to all the same records so they kind of knew where I was going and would chase after me and we’d all eventually meet at the end of the song.These were Dr. Pepper days. Big Macs days. Days before the nights of Bud, ,Marlboro death and sex. everything that poured out of our TV’s, radios, aluminum soda cans, and Peavey amplifiers was pure fantasy and we dressed for the part in our Wilson leather vests we bought at Chess King at Westgate Mall and our beige Levi cords and matching white shirts.The lightshow at our feet was built by my dad out of plywood. Dangerously flammable and heavier than all our music gear put together. he bought the super watt orange, green, blue and red lights at Stoughton Hardware, they were way too hot and bright and you couldn’t see them shining during the day gigs, but we brought them anyway as a prop. The Papa Gino’s pizza and a Styrofoam cup of coke in front of me from my dad who worked there as “head of construction” and probably bought the whole party pizza for this jam show. I was incredibly lucky I had parents supporting me and my band like they did. I can’t remember one word of discouragement from either of them. sure, they bummed me out and embarrassed me like all parents do, but they allowed me my dream. they gave me permission to figure it out on my own.to find my artist self in the weeds of adolescence,singing songs that didn’t exist, with my weird ass teenage vision of stardom that had nothing to do with money, sex or fame, but everything to do with a starry unknown, a mystery, a secret chord written on a scrap of paper about to burn up in a light nobody can see

themikeviola

#superkidfriday no42. “How To Write a Song” books in the 80’s didn’t exist. There were no “Songwriting for Dummies”. I found a thesaurus and a rhyming dictionary in the strip mall bookstore to correct and or jump start inspiration and just felt my way around the darkness of the empty rooms I called songs until I found something to grab onto. Most of the time there was nothing there. But I looked anyway. It was all about the process, about sitting down and getting to it. There was fear at the heart of it, fear in the chase. Fear of what I’d find, if I ever found it. It was addictive, and I spent most of my time sitting at this desk trying to make sense out of the nonsense phonetics that were attached to melodies that came to me effortlessly. My yellow drugstore spiral notebook and lucky ball point pen came with me everywhere I went along with a portable cassette recorder.  I worked hard decoding what I was trying to say. My girlfriend Kim went to college at UMASS Amherst a few hours away, my part time job in High School turned to full time at Lazzarino’s the family pizza restaurant. Because I had to be in at 5:30am, I was able to leave by 3pm every day. Nobody was home, I had zero distraction from song writing. My mother started working full time after my dad died, and both of my brothers fell in love with New Hampshire girls and moved North, so I had the empty house to myself. I spent all my time making music or listening to music, really loud. My sense of self was buried under the weight of the things my brothers left behind when they moved out: the black velvet poster of Godzilla from Spencer’s Gifts, the big Radio Shack speakers and stereo, some scratched up Eagles LPs, a disgusting water bed, they were all hand me downs, left over from when the house was full of family. I filled yellow spiral notebooks for years and years searching for something until a line or two surfaced that mattered.  I still do it. and when I find a song, there is a brief feeling of fulfillment that only lasts long enough to make you want more. There’s always more, but never enough

themikeviola

#superkidfriday no40.1985. The Rat in Kenmore Square. I’m about to barely graduate from Stoughton High School and college was not an option. Star Trek and weed were. I was asked to help support my family so I worked the night shift at Lazzarino’s, my family’s pizza restaurant in Quincy we named after my dad.It was next door to a very cokie bar called The Hat Rack and sometimes I’d cover the grill for my cousin Joey when he needed to do, whatever he had to do I guess.I made friends with the old Irish cops who staggered into Lazz’s late after closing when I was cranking the juke box and mopping floors with dirty grey water by myself, trying to get out of there so I could grab a few hours sleep before having to wake up for school the next day. a few free stale slices and beer and they’d fix the occasional speeding ticket for me or my girlfriend Kim. Blue collar Boston, my people, but I didn’t look the part and I got shit for my long hair with blue tints and my overall look of a cartoon vampire with graveyard face and pale skinny arms. I wore my work whites to bed, caked in flour and short order grease. Songs were written on the fly, on scraps of paper stuffed in my pockets or under the cash register, I hoarded every idea that came to me cause I was afraid I’d lose the one great idea I had been working towards. My ticket out. (note: they were all terrible ideas. Nothing worth writing down. But at the time I thought they were and they got me to the next thing that was connected to the next thing and eventually I discovered an entire city at the bottom of an ocean,full of song. So yeah, write that shit down). This all feels romantic in my rearview now. Like a scene from Rocky or The Karate Kid, the strength building montage. But it wasn’t. it was dramatically boring and sad. Dark without words, no language to relate to. Then in 1986 Tom Waits played songs from Rain Dogs on David Letterman and the movie River’s Edge came out and tore through the plastic that was covering the furniture and dug a tunnel for me up and out of the wine-soaked carpets of suburbia

themikeviola

#superkidfriday no39.1985.Stoughton High School gym. I was a local hero past his prime in a state of self-loathing.A kid that didn’t make good on his promise to fly up and out of the suburbs away from the orange glow of the late-night parking lots,industrial parks and dead malls. A kid that never left the ground.My body changed too fast, my voice too, I needed a parent to help me navigate it, like kids my age did, but my dad had just died. On his deathbed he asked me to sing a song to him and all I could say to him was “what song?”. He was probably a day away from dying, I was years away from being able to dive deep and surface with a song that had something to say.He had no business asking me, and I had no business feeling bad about that.it all happened in a sad blur. All I really remember about this time of life was how uncertain I was and so afraid for my mom who turned away from me for her own survival. She was younger than I am now.I was lost inside a rock dream that didn’t come true.Left waiting for the beige kitchen phone to ring, for someone to tell me how my story would end, or what would happen to me next. Music remained a place for me to escape into, but I hadn’t figured out it was a place I could also say what I wanted to say.A place to express myself, with barre chords and reverb to hide behind. I had so much to learn still. I was still just imitating what I loved, which is okay, it’s a good place to start. The only thing worse than my songs at this time was my tone. My voice was unstable, my guitar too heavy on my scarecrow frame of a body. I was mess. But I kept showing up. I kept pursuing ideas until I figured out how to tell the difference from the good and bad. I struggled through the process. I still do. So today, just like yesterday, I spend my life energy combing through a song, for no reason except that’s the place where I say what I need to say the way I want to say it. I show up.If only to remind myself of how good it feels to make something good, or at least how to come close or exhaust myself and feel alive trying. I don’t have that stadium gene, that need to go big, I guess I never did. I just want to make something worth singing

themikeviola

I don’t know what she’s looking for… But she won’t find it. See you tonight at Mercury lounge New York

themikeviola

I will still be at Mercury Lounge at 8:30 tomorrow, but sadly this mustache will not.

themikeviola

Art killer from Penny’s elementary school art fair. This fucker is haunting me. See you Saturday at Mercury Lounge NYC with @hannahkwink ? Weird new lo fi space shirts and vinyl at merch

themikeviola

#superkidfriday no38.1981 Babson College.Sean who was older and in High School knew some college kids and got us this gig playing Babson. We had a few cover songs,Smoke On The Water, Crazy Train, but we mostly played my weird ass original songs that were always half finished.here I’m playing a Fender Rhodes with a guitar pick in my mouth.  It’s a move I learned from Geddy Lee of RUSH when I saw them at the Boston Garden. My brother Larry had this Rhodes in the basement, so I just lugged it to the gig. The only thing I really knew how to play was Tubular Bells from the Exorcist, and the intro to Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds in the wrong key.But,I could play by ear, understood triads and could find my way through whatever jam was happening.We had nothing prepared.It was a last-minute idea to bring this keyboard.I think I told the band “let’s play the end of Freebird and I’ll make stuff up for like 10 minutes”. The college kids loved it. They were all hammered and just couldn’t believe the noise these little kids were making.We weren’t college type kids.None of us would go to college, and one of us never make it through high school.I remember sounding really good.I remember thinking our jam was special and that the keyboard needed to be worked into our band like this but sadly this was the one and only gig we played this way.There was an impresario at this Babson gig, Charlie (not to be confused with my mom) and he got us our first gigs at real rock clubs in the city, Spit and The Rat,a feature article in the Boston Phoenix, and an overall entree into the Boston Rock scene.Sean unwittingly found us our first real pro break when all he wanted was for us to play this college gig so he could meet a college girl. When it was time to leave, we packed the van ourselves cause he was nowhere to be found. While our van was pulling out of the midnight leafy red brick campus heading home we heard a high-pitched whistle from the bushes and Sean came hopping out with his pants around his ankles and a phone number in his mouth, the hiss of Route 128 pulling us home back into the basement that spawned us, teenage fantasies playing out on a night heaving with spring

themikeviola

#superkidfriday no33. 1984. Flannagan,my new manager, introduced me to Neon, a pop rock band from New York, fronted by Tony Bennett’s son Danny and his brother Dae on drums. They were older and knew things I needed to know.Their music sounded radio ready; Rick Springfield chunky chord hooks with bookish lyrics layered in harmony on power pop progressions topped by Simmons drum pad fills. We loved it. I’m showing Danny my guitar, we are in a NYC recording studio. My whole band slept in Tony Bennett’s basement while recording a 3 song demo that Neon produced for us. I became life long friends with the Bennett’s. Maybe they took a shine to me cause I came out of nowhere, I came out of my dream that is, with cartoonish ambition to soak up anything I could and turn it into a riff or a song.My voice was high and gravelly and I had this punk way of singing I borrowed from Robin Lane and Joan Jett. I think maybe the best thing about our musicianship is that we tried without fear and didn’t mind sounding sloppy. The difference between metal and punk; musicians that practice verses musicians that jam.that magical sound of someone really trying but not quite getting it. Our music wasn’t punk but our ethos was. We were metal heads that never practiced scales, and we loved Wings. Frank J Russo the concert promoter was courting me. He said “tell me the first thing you’d like me to do as your agent” and I told him “introduce me to Ozzy”. A few months after Randy died Ozzy played the Providence Civic Center and Frank arranged a meeting. Ozzy had shaved his head and had this half finished new tatoo of a blue guy on his chest he showed me. I had lugged this Les Paul with Randy laminated on the back to show him. Randy had died only a few months before. you know what Ozzy said to me? He said “whoah... what the fuck did you do that for?”. Then he turned away and flirted with my mom Charlie in a pain killer haze. Later on from our seats in the 3rd row we watched Ozzy go through the motions with a fake Randy, fake bats, bleeding midgets and his midevil castle he brought to downtown Providence; it was a real live cartoon on stage,and they were jamming

themikeviola

I’ve got 2 choices when I take a selfie chicken neck or double chin. I’ll take a double chin and a diet Dr Pepper to go- make it quick I’m in a god damn hurry

themikeviola

#superkidfriday no32. 1985. Senior Prom. There were no songs. There were no shows. Instead I worked every day after school slinging pizzas at “Lazzarino’s” the family restaurant we named after my father. No band rehearsals at night. Music just stopped. School was a joke to me. Doctor Sarno the principal of the high school grabbed me by my neck on graduation day and said “if you weren’t a piesano you’d never make it outta here”. The Superkid was a thing of the past. It was stupid and shameful. People would talk about stardom that never happened. I lost belief in something I never really believed in.one day, maybe a year after this picture, I woke up jangling a set of keys in the snow, using my lighter to thaw out a frozen lock to let myself into Westgate Mall to turn on the pizza ovens and start making the dough. Working the morning shift in the darkness alone with The Beach Boys and Ozzy cassettes on my Radio Shack boombox to drown out the muzak reverberating in the empty mall around me. My girlfriend Kim was hours away at UMASS college. We would get married and move in together once she graduated. My burnout friends were scattered throughout the state working at blue collar factories and construction jobs. Living out their Springsteen prophecy. I tried working at construction till I had 2 accidents in 1 month. One where I drilled my finger to a wall and the other where I ripped the tip of my thumb off with a razor cutting linoleum tile a little tipsy after a liquid lunch with the boys. “Mike Mike Mike don’t be a pussy you’re about to pass out... I don’t wanna carry you to the hospital”. I was drowning in a dull hum. It’s funny what you remember when you look at an old high school picture like this. Tina Boey Kim Mike. I remember the restless feeling. Mostly the feelings. The groping. The anticipation. The dread. The longing in the light that blurs the back of the photo. It’s the stuff that songs are made of. It’s all I can remember

themikeviola

#superkidfriday no31.The Kitchen. In 1984 my mom was younger than I am today, learning how to be a widow and a single parent who chose to let us be teenage idiots right under her nose at home where she could keep an eye on us instead of sneaking around in the woods like we did before my dad died. That October I moved all my music equipment from the musty basement into the living room so we could jam upstairs, got rid of the dining room table and hutch and moved my dad’s big TV from his bedroom into the dining room along with couch and chairs so we could watch the new cable channel MTV nonstop. The plastic yellow kitchen clock on the wall in this picture says 11:45pm, it was New Year’s Eve. My mom was behind a closed bedroom door at the end of a dark hallway while we drank beers and watched The Twilight Zone marathon on a local UHF station WSBK TV38. Surrounding the tower of empty Bud cans are my burnout friends. The 5 Beatle dolls are original REMCO from 1964 that I found one by one at various flea markets and yard sales throughout my childhood. They comforted me. I’m wearing a Dirty Harry shirt “Do you feel lucky? Well do ya punk?” There’s a family photo collage on the wall haphazardly glued together by my dad one summer when he went on an emotional rampage tearing through old photo albums nobody ever opened and emptying a shoe box full of white envelopes stuffed with crappy photos developed at the Kodak Shack in the Westgate Mall parking lot. He cut all his favorite moments out of these snapshots and glued them together in this collage. A mish mosh. Non specific. Themeless. Reckless. Beautiful. I mean ,how can you pin point a life anyway? You can’t pose for it. Can you sum it up in neat photos or words? For me, life moments that plunge the deepest and reach closest to the secret cause, are random. Not graduation day or like a Christening, maybe not even a birth or a death, but something like this, teenagers sitting around a butcher block table in a fuzzy photograph, 15 minutes before they SHOULD be posing for a New Years Eve photo, rushing in, wasted, young, before life’s big questions become answers they can’t drown out. Before dad comes home

themikeviola

Gardena Warehouse Sale with the girls

themikeviola

Karaoke. Incubus. Stranger. Prime Time Pub. Walking in LA. stUmbled. Hugs for singing. People yelling. Lights bright. Fake guitar no strings on wall. Beatles poster that was in my bedroom growing up. Is she drunk or is her face paralyzed? Wooooo. Screams the young lady. Arms crossed. Battery dying. Hope it lasts so I can Uber the fuck out. Maybe I’ll walk more. Friday night Santa Monica Blvd. that sears building is a landmark. Karaoke is fun until it’s not.

themikeviola

Friday farmers market face. Bill withers lovely day. Street sushi. Churros. Shit to do later. Not now.

themikeviola

I’ll be joining @sondrelerche this Wednesday the 20th at @largolosangeles. Playing a few songs with some other guests. Come check it out if you can.

themikeviola

#superkidfriday no30 1982.Furbush.on school mornings our kitchen was filled with stale cigarette smoke from my dad who left for work hours earlier.a smell that pisses you off and makes you wonder what kind of danger he might be finding for himself out there on this rainy morning on 128 in Needham Heights doing what?I know what his job was but what did he actually do?what filled his days?What broke his heart?Kids migrated from basement to basement cause in the 70s and 80s most parents I knew didn’t allow their kids in their living room with plastic covering on the furniture,carpets that always had vacuum tracks on it like it was just vacuumed.we thought it was stupid and it drove us away into the woods where we gathered to party at Furbush by bonfires or in the headlights of cars down old dirt access roads that wound under high tension wires that fed electricity to all our homes where our parents waited up for us,losing their minds with worry.At school the burnouts smoked in the rain under the gym stairs where the bus dropped us off.we wore leather jackets passed down by our older brother and sister burnouts.our Chuck Taylors were knock offs from Woolworths our unlaced work boots from Thom McCann.Some of us were burnouts cause we didn’t fit in anywhere else. That was me.I wasn’t tough. I didn’t’ fight .I didn’t smoke till years later.but these were my people. That October,2 months into our freshman high school year, a kid named David that I saw at these parties in the woods crashed in a car filled with kids who had been drinking.We all got into cars like that all the time.But they crashed.and he died.We held a benefit concert to raise money for the family.My dad died less than 2 years later and he was buried in the local cemetery right next to David.I’d visit them both after work from the pizza place. Skeletal east coast oaks throwing their frozen shadows over the granite tombstones from the headlights of my CJ7.I loved how scary it felt,I love monster stuff and I love to be scared. So I spent a lot of time there at night looking for words

themikeviola

#superkidfriday no30 1982.Furbush.on school mornings our kitchen was filled with stale cigarette smoke from my dad who left for work hours earlier.a smell that pisses you off and makes you wonder what kind of danger he might be finding for himself out there on this rainy morning on 128 in Needham Heights doing what?I know what his job was but what did he actually do?what filled his days?What broke his heart?Kids migrated from basement to basement cause in the 70s and 80s most parents I knew didn’t allow their kids in their living room with plastic covering on the furniture,carpets that always had vacuum tracks on it like it was just vacuumed.we thought it was stupid and it drove us away into the woods where we gathered to party at Furbush by bonfires or in the headlights of cars down old dirt access roads that wound under high tension wires that fed electricity to all our homes where our parents waited up for us,losing their minds with worry.At school the burnouts smoked in the rain under the gym stairs where the bus dropped us off.we wore leather jackets passed down by our older brother and sister burnouts.our Chuck Taylors were knock offs from Woolworths our unlaced work boots from Thom McCann.Some of us were burnouts cause we didn’t fit in anywhere else. That was me.I wasn’t tough. I didn’t’ fight .I didn’t smoke till years later.but these were my people. That October,2 months into our freshman high school year, a kid named David that I saw at these parties in the woods crashed in a car filled with kids who had been drinking.We all got into cars like that all the time.But they crashed.and he died.We held a benefit concert to raise money for the family.My dad died less than 2 years later and he was buried in the local cemetery right next to David.I’d visit them both after work from the pizza place. Skeletal east coast oaks throwing their frozen shadows over the granite tombstones from the headlights of my CJ7.I loved how scary it felt,I love monster stuff and I love to be scared. So I spent a lot of time there at night waiting for the words to come

themikeviola

#superkidfriday no 29 1983. Star Licks. Boston Common with my name in red neon and a Marshall amp behind me, ripping a solo on my cheap Gibson Les Paul XR-1 my parents bought me at Central Music in Brockton. My Uncle Eugene from Ohio laminated a picture of Randy Rhoads on the back of it with some kind of thick golf club varnish. Local Channel Seven News was there to film and we ended up in a few snippets. By this point our band was actually pretty good and we had a few decent songs; Cindy Is Teen, Skipping School, Sheila, All The Time All The While. The Boston press called me a child prodigy but all I really knew how to play were first position chords and simple barre chords. For solos I’d play some ham fisted licks I learned from a mail order cassette called “Star Licks”. I ordered it from the back of a Guitar Player. The tape taught you how to play guitar by slowing down popular solos so you could learn them note by note. I barely knew the pentatonic scale... I’d start there in whatever key the song was in... insert a few Star Licks...then do a windmill or a Hendrix face to cover the damage done. Still,people called me a guitar genius and a wunderkind. But I wasn’t. I sang and played fearlessly, I didn’t give a fuck what people thought. I just went for it with loud guitars, chunky chords, unusual song progressions that followed my sweet melodies and dark lyrics that leaned more towards AM radio hits of the 70’s I’d heard in mono from the passenger seat of my mom’s beige AMC Gremlin. Seasons In The Sun, Delta Dawn, songs with a lot of death and over the top drama. It bugged me that people said I was so good at guitar, not just because I wasn’t good at guitar, but because I wish they were commenting on my songwriting instead. Which happened to be mostly shitty as well, but songs were my passion. I was determined, and I still am. Determined to find the song. To keep looking for it. Because 99% of the time whatever I think I’m searching for leads me somewhere else.  I’m constantly leaving, saying goodbye to an old idea as I stumble into someplace unexpected that’s as mysterious and beautiful as it is fleeting

themikeviola

#superkidfriday no 28 1982 Mike and Kim. There are roots branching out of my mother’s eyes into the scratchy finder out through the lens of the plastic Instamatic camera that connects to the back of my kid skull, out of my kid ears, and wraps around Kim’s waist, shoots out the toes of her Exersoles down into the concrete sidewalk down through the broken decades in reverse through years of Ozzy, years of mall haircuts, years of cheap guitars, years of songs. Songs carved into trees that mark a trail being slowly devoured. Somehow, I won Kim over, took her hand and walked her away from the Girls Table (#superkidfriday no 26) into my city of rock n’ roll nights. This photo was taken before soundcheck at Jasper’s in Somerville on July 10th 1982. Kim and I were a new couple that summer. kids cutting the corners into adulthood. Life was a stretch and we were reaching for love – for whatever our parents couldn’t give us, we scrounged up in the back seats of cars over our jeans plunging into our pockets digging for spare change that added up to something we could spend somewhere else. we stayed together through High School, and then while she went to college at Emerson and worked at Cheers on Beacon Street at night, I worked at Tower Records on Mass Ave. we got married young. one day while swimming down the Cape with some friends her legs felt numb in the water. It took months of tests to find out she had spinal cancer. near the end, we were living at my brother Dave’s house, he built a ramp and widened some doorways, Kim was in a wheelchair, slowly dying, trapped in her body. there were no therapists, there were no parents to the rescue, no religions. The two of us were looking out the window at the rain falling in the woods in Dave’s backyard, the woods I grew up in.big east coast oak trees.some of them stretching 100 feet tall.some leaning against each other.some fallen and decayed,covered in moss on the ground. We were improvising a way to say goodbye to each other.we did this every day little by little. That day she told me “I’m like those fallen trees out there, I’ll be around even after I’m gone, a part of whatever comes next”

themikeviola

#superkidfriday no 27 The Van. The school bus dropped me off one day and there was this blue Dodge van at the end of our driveway with my name on it. My dad had decided to buy a van without asking me what I thought. He also decided that my name should be Mikie not Mike and that the name of the band should be Mikie Viola and The Bottom Line. So he just went ahead and had that shit printed on the van in the lamest design ever along with a bunch of random music notes on this wavy white staff. You have no idea how crushed I was about this. I remember I cried. I threw my school books down on the yellow kitchen counter and just wailed at my mom “why didn’t he ask me first? Why didn’t YOU ask me first? Everyone is gonna make fun of me! We don’t need a van, we need Marshall amps” I was right. Everyone made fun of me. Even my friends. Cause it was stupid and not cool at all. And it didn’t take long for somebody to vandalize the van, key my name with a big sloppy X. it sucked so bad but my dad wouldn’t budge. In fact he took it a step further by installing a yellow police light on the roof and a PA system in the van so when he drove around he could yell shit at people. Funny but embarrassing.  Shooting ahead a few years, after he died and me and my brother could basically do whatever the fuck we wanted while my mom mourned in confusion we drove that blue van to high school parties in the woods at Furbush off Line Lumber road and broke them up so we could steal the keg, throw it in the back of the van and drive around Stoughton. We’d pretend we were cops with that PA system and pull our teenage friends over who just got their permits. fun times, dangerous times.  Loading the van and unloading the van. Two totally different things. When you’re loading for the gig, it’s daylight and you have energy, school’s over you’re pumped up for the show. When you’re unloading, it’s dark, show’s over, school tomorrow nothing left to do but clean up the mess, break it down so you can do it all again next Tuesday night at another club driving around Boston in a van with your name crossed out

themikeviola

Happy 🍟 day

themikeviola

Back in NYC, Mercury Lounge to jam out The American Egypt and some old shit too. Wolfe on drums Green on bass

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#superkidfriday no 26 1981. My arms are around Lisa.  Todd is holding Kim. We are 14 and dancing to Another Brick In The Wall at Dawn K’s confirmation party. Todd’s cheap metallic red Rodgers drums are set up in the background. My Peavey is back there too, my Aria Pro II, Boey’s knock off Rick 4001 and his Crate bass amp. All of it on stage in the dark waiting for us to play our set of original songs.  My mind was drifting in this picture; already onstage, playing out our collective dream sequence, singing my teenage songs about yearning for stardom, songs about leaving home and returning. then there was this song called “The Joker”. No, not the Steve Miller Band song, a different one. I can’t explain how this song arrived. I wrote it fast. the lyrics are all stream of consciousness. My Joker was this scary “Face back in the window looking straight at me, telling me what to do”. For some reason it spoke to me and all my junior high school friends. Maybe cause none of us knew what we were doing. Our parents drove us places and dropped us off. We were left alone at Westgate Mall or Paragon Park to figure it out together, we made it up as we went along. Lisa and I are looking straight ahead, barely touching. Todd and Kim look more comfortable together, all of us tight lipped and nervous with all that fuzzy innocence of kids in a hurry to grow up. Clicking forward a few months into this picture, Todd and Kim broke up, Lisa finally gets tired of me not knowing what to do with my hands besides play guitar. Clicking forward a year, Kim and I fall in love and start dating. Click another year, we are voted class couple of Stoughton High School Class Of 1985.

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Happy birthday Josephine! Little girl… We love you… You inspire us all, you make us laugh, you are fearless courageous beautiful athletic lazy artistic a slob graceful dancer A singer a madman at the piano daddy studio rat beach bum monster room pal You are a healer Believe it or not you are a teacher this world needs you as much as it loves you and I can’t wait to see you after school I realize I am talking to myself here and you can’t read so really who is this for? Except me in my own ego driving in the Durango 98 on my way meet a musician who I will Talk to And I’ll try hard to focus on them but I will be thinking of you the whole time and your little face that I will hold in my hands in just a few short hours I love you Josephine

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I love my nerd

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#superkidfriday no 7 Jumbo’s Somerville Mass 1983 - Look at us, so pumped to play. It was probably a Tuesday night and I had school the next day. I played lots of Tuesday night sets at small clubs outside of Boston to figure out what I was doing. There were probably 10 people in the audience, locals, regulars, sad bar flies, and my mom. we played like it was the Boston Garden. These gigs are a blur in my memory and I’m not sure why. I can tell you this, that Ozzy shirt I’m wearing is from a concert at the Providence Civic Center a few nights before. I met Ozzy at the concert because the promoter for the concert wanted to manage me and he asked me ͞hey kid, tell me what I can do for you… what are you dreams… what’s the first thing you’d like a real manager to do for you?͟ my answer: I want you to introduce me to Ozzy. So here’s what happened. Randy Rhoads had just died. Circus magazine ran a long story about it and there was this picture of Randy that I cut out and had laminated on the back of my Les Paul (the one I’m playing in the picture). So… when I went to meet Ozzy… I brought the guitar with me to the show. The plan was to meet Ozzy backstage beforehand. When he walked up to me and my mom I didn’t recognize him. He was so small and polite, kind of flirty with my mom. She asked him ͞how are you feeling?....͟ And I remember him looking straight at her and saying ͞thank you, I’m doing alright͟ and like… I dunno… she reached him… then my mom introduced me and I pulled the Les Paul out of my case and flipped it around to show him Randy Rhoads laminated on the back. There was a long pause… puzzled and confused, definitely offended… Ozzy said to me ͞What the fuck did you do that for?͟ and then he shuffled off. I don’t have that Les Paul anymore. I stopped playing it after that. I fucked up…and I didn’t know why. I don’t have that concert tee anymore either cause I wore it to shreds. I saw it the other day at the Silver Lake Flea Market… hanging out on display on a dry cleaner hanger in the parking lot sun. I said to myself… I’m buying that thing no matter what it costs… how much can it be? 60 bucks? I’ll do it. You know how much that shirt

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#superkidfriday no 6 Scotch N’ Sounds Brockton Mass 1983. There’s Ward in his black spandex and Guild bass. There’ s my name in neon lights stacked on plastic milk crates. We stacked everything on milk crates that summer… we stole them from Christie’s convenient store in Brockton…my Marshall amp, Scott’s Peavey, Ward’s Peavey, Paul’s drum riser, all on milk crates to make things higher I guess. My dad was ͞head of construction͟ for Papa Gino’s which was an Italian restaurant chain in New England. He had his carpenters build me things. Like a fog machine made out of an old oil drum that used to shock the fuck out of Sean and Freddy when they filled it with water, heated the water up with the heating element at the bottom and then submerged dry ice in this metal net into the hot water and kicked on the fan to blow it onstage so that my name in neon could light it all up. I bought the velvet pants and striped shirt in LA a few years earlier when I was there writing a record with Kim Fowley. Kim introduced me to Jonathan Daniel who was a few years older and played bass in a successful LA band called Candy. We hung out, bought a bunch of clothes and records. Kim told me that Jonathan would run the record business one day, and he was pretty much right about that. JD, Kim and I went to the Whiskey a Go Go to see Motley Crue. I bought Too Fast For Love off of Nikki Sixx in the dressing room. When I got back from LA I started wearing the bandanas and striped shirts on stage and had my George Harrison bangs altered at the Stop N’ Shop barber just enough to get the Florence Henderson look. I rocked all through puberty that way. It was a mess.

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NYC - see you in November. With band! #bittenandcursed

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Zombie Acropolis Apocalypse A Walk To Fish The Faulk The Fist The Peter Criss #hippyjohnnytoo #montereyjazzfestival

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#superkidfriday no 5 Recording Studio NYC 1983. I am 17 years old in this picture.  My band (The Alliance!) drove down from Stoughton Mass to NYC to record 3 songs at a pro studio called Park South in Manhattan (not there anymore). Sitting at the console, deep in thought in this picture… probably wondering why my guitar tone didn’t sound enough like Randy Rhoads. Ward Clifford is watching over me. He played this sick Guild bass through a Peavey amp…he wore shiny black spandex on stage… he drove a Z-28. He seemed so much older at the time but he was probably no more than 2 years older… so were the rest of the band. We were a real band for a little while and made a few recordings that I need to dig up. Good songs. Not great. but the band had real BAND energy… the rare kind… it was just so hard to keep us focused cause we were so young…I was still in high school with high school worries… my dad was on his death bed a few months following this picture… I started to lose him before he got sick. He sort of managed us with my mom, managed my bands I mean, but… once we got out in the public eye and met real managers and people in the business he lost his place… his powers… his role. Like most real life changes I didn’t see that coming at all, couldn’t prepare, when he told me and my brother Dave that he had serious cancer he cried a little bit and Dave and I didn’t say anything… we didn’t know what to say… he got a little mad at us for that… I don’t blame him at all.  So crazy for me to look at this picture… there’s so much silence in it…  here we all are in frozen in time in this NYC studio, far from home, suburban teenagers making our art… blue collar boys from a shoe mill town meant for blue collar weekends… here…toiling away on radio dreams…in this picture I’m pouring concrete into a deep hole that I started digging in some other life… pouring concrete and laying rebar… to build the invisible skyscraper someday I hope people can see

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Viola / Goldings back in action writing in the dining room today

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Next up is @natclo with a cover of #kingkonghand for #theamericanegypt test pressing contest. Watch both parts! Thank you Natalie!

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Traggin in the desert with Madison Cunningham

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Water Tower Madi and band Sonic Ranch Sunset Break

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Superkid Fridays #2: What I remember most about these early shows of mine is being frustrated at my dad. He drove me to the gigs, and he made all his friends from work come and see me. At the time I thought it was lame and embarrassing, all these old people from my dad’s work. But now looking back I realize, they were young people he brought to see me, and they were drinking and smoking, partying at the Rat on a week night, cause my dad’s kid was playing, and he gave them that experience, bought them rounds of well whiskey on ice, and I was there to deflect and absorb it all and that made me part of who I am today which is a dad that drives his daughters crazy I bet. The band I was opening for was called Berlin Airlift. Man.. .I loved this band.. .they were the real power pop. My mom made my stage clothes. We’d go to Saftler’s in Brockton Mass and she’d buy all this velvet and sparkly glam looking material and I rip pictures out of Hit Parader and Cream magazine of like… Queen… R.E.O. Speedwagon… Foreigner… (this was all before Ozzy and before the British Metal Invasion changed our minds and clothes) yeah so… Charlie (my mom) would just approximate what she saw in the magazine and crank out these clothes for us. I was in school… my brother was in school… my dad worked full time… she ran the house… and somehow found time to do THIS. Nuts. My Les Paul guitar was the cheapest you could buy it was called the Les Paul XR1. I played through a half stack Marshall I bought out of the Want Ads. I gave the local papers something to write about. They wrote that I was a prodigy but that was silly, all I knew were barre chords and the pentatonic scale, I just had zero fear about being onstage, zero fear approximating the licks I heard on WAAF or WBCN, I’d go onstage with no written lyrics and just… riff lyrics… sing phonetics… I was no prodigy, I was a 14 year old kid looking for a way out of the suburbs. once I strapped myself to the XR1… I was gone.

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The song nag woke me at 4:30am with nothing to say except hey what’s up man so out goes the trash -scoop up the paper- walk the senior dog -dig into some Neil Gaiman while a pink blur fills the room with those sunrise shadows and well alright song you can come in you vampire you can come in and steal my life force I don’t care and in the time it takes to jot down the idea the color is drained from the sky garbage trucks and dogs the hiss of morning traffic and you’re gone again to the news numbers and lunches to be made for sleeping miracles Wahoooooo!

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October show at Bootleg joined by Jason Boesel and Sebastian Steinberg. @alliebuckley will be mesmerizing and gorgeous right after we play and @vanwilliammusic will melt faces and hearts to cap off the night. It’s Jojo’s birthday that so she’ll be there we gotta bounce early cause of late night bday plans but... hope to see you at some point for gooey rock songs in butterscotch trenches under the eye of the ever expanding

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Sunday with the Viola’s

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Look it’s Kurt Cobain in Winona Ryder

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Fire in the sky… Made it to Tahoe… And yes… There is smoke on the water