Leatherwolf's old singer, Michael Olivieri, is performing at the Galaxy Concert Theatre tonight, and he gamely answered a few questions from our intern Mi Tran about his new solo album, Goodbye Rain; performing with Metallica; living in OC; and life after being in a metal band.
OC Weekly (Mi Tran): How long did it take you to learn to play guitar left-handed?
Michael Olivieri: That's hard to say how long it took to learn to play guitar left-handed; I still feel like I'm
learning every day. I don't remember a time when I said to myself, “Self,
I got this!” But within a year or two, I was playing in a local
garage band. We were called the Next. Pretty ambitious, huh?
Who were your musical influences growing up?
Almann Brothers, Eagles, Doobie Brothers, Led Zeppelin and the Beatles.
How did it feel to perform with metal royalty like Metallica and Slayer at a young age?
At the time I didn't really think much of it. They were just young punks like us, just all trying to figure it out!
What made you decide to leave Leatherwolf?
Which time? Its always been an on and off thing since 1991. Although I
love the guys, I have to say, as I've gotten older, I've grown as a
songwriter and have taken a different direction musically with my solo
projects. I just wanted to play more guitar, piano and obviously
I could never have the freedom to play a sax solo in a
Leatherwolf concert. Truth be told, I really never “left” Leatherwolf.
Does being from OC influence your music in any way?
The weather doesn't hurt, being able to sit at the beach and find inspiration.
What is the inspiration for Goodbye Rain, and how long did it take you to complete the album?
Goodbye Rain was written at a transitional time in my life. The theme
of the album was although you can lose everything in life, you can
always find a way to start over and find happiness and that “something”
that keeps you going.
The album itself was quite a long project to
complete, juggling my business, family, touring with Leatherwolf. . . . I'd
say altogether about two years to complete.
What other instruments do you play and who taught you?
I consider my voice my primary instrument. I also play piano, sax,
harmonica, drums and bass. Although cello was my very first instrument,
its something I haven't played too much since grade school, but I would
love to get back to it!
I taught myself piano, and over time, I went back to college for more formal
training. I learned how to play saxophone in a dream one night, woke
up, bought one and started playing! True story!
What are your future plans? Are you working on new material at the moment?
The band are going in the studio this Monday and going
to start tracking the new record. We will record 16 brand-new songs,
and at least 12 will be on the new release. The album will be recorded live in the studio and with all of us vibing off one another old-school-style–no click tracks, just a very real and honest record.
We're very excited, as I have an incredibly talented group of
seasoned musicians who take my songs to a new level and give it a unique
sound that I could not have captured on my own. K.K. Martin of A La Carte is on guitar and pedal steel; Buzzy James of Laidlaw on guitar;
Tom Croucier on bass; Paul Wilson on drums; Eric Von Herzan on
harmonica; and Dan Lucett, my utility guy who plays guitar,
keys,percussion and vocals.