Today’s Feature, April 19-20, 2007: AM

January 18, 2008 at 6:00 pm (Today's Feature)

That’s it, I’m hooked! From the opening minutes of Troubled Times, you immediately know why AM is being called the next Coldplay, Wilco, Beck, Bowie and James Taylor wrapped into one. Not a bad comparison. AM invites you into his world; a world filled with heartbreak, passion and enduring as memory. His songs were played in features at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival, in television shows including HBO’s Big Love and The Real World, Men In Trees, What About Brian – 30 placements from this 10-song album, has practically every major media outlet vying for his attention. A rare commodity of singer/songwriter/performer/poet and visionary, AM is destined to climb to the top. His range gives way to an old soul, his good looks and charm remind you of a throw back Hollywood star and his lyrics are reminiscent of one man’s torrid journey through the road of life. Look at your CD collection or search your iPod, if AM is not there, make room. Better yet, buy even more space to hold every song AM puts out, since his library is and continues to be rather breathtaking. Read AM’s XXQs to find out more.

XXQs: AM (PEV): How and when did you first get into music?

AM: I got my first guitar after seeing a Guns n’ Roses video when I was 12 years old. I was living in Tulsa, OK where I grew up as a kid. Shortly thereafter my family relocated right outside of New Orleans. The guitar was my solace during those times. Moving can be a lonely time for a kid so I had plenty of late nights on the guitar.

PEV: Was there a certain time or event that you realized you can actually make a living playing music?

AM: Probably after I got my first television placement. It was a show called “Life As We Know It” and it was an ABC show that had Kelly Osbourne in it. The show didn’t last but I kept getting more placements. It was then I realized that making a full time living playing music was possible.

PEV: Your debut CD, Troubled Times [Defend Music] has been called, [A missing link between Coldplay and Wilco]. That must make you feel pretty good, right?

AM: Absolutely. I’m a huge Wilco fan. I think Jeff Tweedy is one of the most creative and important songwriters out there today. I still feel I have a long way to go to earn that comparison. After all Troubled Times was my first album.

PEV: You were born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, then moved to New Orleans and now live in LA. How has this transition been?

AM: I think moving when I was a kid from Tulsa down to the New Orleans area really started my wanderlust. It was tough at first, but I got through it and was ultimately thankful that it happened. Otherwise I may have never discovered the South and New Orleans in particular. It also gave me the ability to acclimate to new people and new places–got me out of the comfort zone. And that is what ultimately made me move from New Orleans. Just wanting to see and try something new. Living in Los Angeles is both amazing and difficult. A big city always has its pros and cons. I think what made LA a special place for me was all the talented people that still gravitate here. It really is that place that people come to try and make a living at doing something creative. At this point I’m traveling so much that home is sort of an illusive definition. If I had to pick a home it would be New Orleans. It’s a place I know I will always come back to.

PEV: On more than one occasion, you have been called [the best singer/song writer to emerge from LA]…not a bad compliment. What is your take on the current LA music scene?

AM: The LA music scene is split up into all kinds of factions. It’s just such a big city that there are so many things going on at one time. I think the “scene” I’m most associated with is the singer/songwriter scene that tends to gravitate around the Hotel Cafe in Hollywood. The Hotel is where I first got my start as a singer/songwriter and it’s where I met many of the people that I work with professionally. We’re pretty lucky a place like that exists. A place you can go to any night of the week and see good music and probably know a handful of people.

PEV: You have traveled all over the world. Which city do you think offers the best environment for music?

AM: Wow. That’s a tough question. I’d have to say London, Austin and New Orleans. Austin has the best live music venues of any city I’ve ever been too. London has one of the most enthusiastic and most educated audiences for live music. New Orleans has the best vibe and energy for music of any city. When you go out to listen to music in New Orleans it’s an all night affair. None of these paltry 45 minute sets. Bands play for hours.

PEV: Is there a certain atmosphere you surround yourself in when you write music?

AM: Nah, I learned to not rely on that a long time ago. When I first moved to LA I lived in this tiny apartment with white walls and vertical blinds. Coming from New Orleans you can imagine the shock! Ha ha. In New Orleans it’s quite standard for an apartment to have 12-14 foot ceilings, crown molding, and be incased in a mini Victorian mansion. In LA it’s all about functionality. I figured if I could write songs in a white room with vertical blinds then I can write a song anywhere.

PEV: What was it like the first time you stepped into a studio to record?

AM: Totally intimidating. I always record at least part of my records at home.

PEV: Along with having radio play, you’ve had 30 song placements on television [HBO’s “Big Love”, MTV’s “Real World,” ABC’s “What About Brian”, Indie film “The Naked Ape”, ABC’s “Men In Trees” and “Grey’s Anatomy”]. How has the exposure from television helped your career? MM: Having the songs in films and TV shows has enabled my music to reach people worldwide, and without the support and budgets of a big record label i.e. radio payola and expensive PR campaigns. I think it’s enabled me to compete on a certain level, but with a fraction of the marketing money. I’ve been incredibly fortunate in that realm (30 song placements– all 10 songs from the debut placed).

PEV: What do all your friends and family back home think about your success? MM: They’re happy for me. I think people like to see it when they’re friends and family succeed.

PEV: If you could collaborate with one artist, alive or deceased, who would it be and why? MM: Wow. These kinds of questions are always tough. Today my answer would be Italian composer Ennio Morricone. I’ve been listening to his work intently over the last couple of years.

PEV: Saturday Night Live calls and asks you to be the musical guest. Who is your dream host? MM: Jack Nicholson. If I heard Jack Nicholson introduce me I would die.

PEV: What kind of advice can you give to people who are just now starting a band or picking up a guitar? MM: Whatever you do just keep playing. When I first started playing guitar I thought it was the hardest thing I’d ever tried to do. My fingers hurt and I just couldn’t make the chords. But then one day it just clicked and I could make a bar chord. It’s just like that. Smallsteps. Also I encourage young players to make it fun for themselves. Learn songs you like and that keep you wanting to play. Most people I know that had the obligatory piano lesson as a kid don’t play music at all anymore. Why? Because it wasn’t fun. It was like a chore.

PEV: What helps fuel your drive to create music? MM: I think for me it’s about expression. The need to create and express. I think it’s something we all have, but people choose different ways of getting it out. For me it just happens to be music.

PEV: How has life on the road been for you? MM: It’s been really good. Even when it’s hard it’s good. I’ve been doing less and less shows solo these days which make a huge difference because I have some company. I have amazing band members so sharing the road with them is always a good experience. Not to mention all the people you meet along the way. Musicians have the fortunate position of traveling the world and seeing different cities the way most people don’t see them. We’re in and out of cities often killing time in the afternoons and then staying out late at night. Most people can’t do that as they have jobs and responsibilities. We do too but in a much more transient way.

PEV: If I were to walk into your house right now, what is one thing I would be surprised to find? MM: Hmmm…probably nothing. I live pretty simply. I only buy music, films and books. I’m not a big consumer.

PEV: There are heated debates about offering free music online. What is your opinion?

AM: Unfortunately the major record business kind of brought this on themselves. They were putting out albums with like one or two good songs on them. People got tired of it and felt ripped off. When technology advanced people were more than ready to take advantage. I think iTunes and similar download sites are cool. You still buy the music, but you don’t have to buy any song you don’t like so you never feel ripped off. I do however think we’re heading into a trend where all music will be free…and movies are next. It’s gonna change a lot about the entertainment business. No more expensive albums or movies. This can be good and bad. Dark Side of the Moon could never have been created on a shoestring budget, but the White Stripes spend hardly a penny on their albums and they are great. Nor will we be able to make movies as epic as the Godfather or Sparticus, but then again we won’t have to deal with those blockbuster type-big budget nonsense.

PEV: What can someone expect from a live AM show? MM: The one thing people consistently say they come away with is that they were totally wrapped up and entranced during the show. It’s intimate.

PEV: What is the best part about playing live? MM: Probably seeing new faces getting into the music. I was once, and still am, a fan. And when I see people in the audience getting into my music the way I get into other people’s music…that is just the greatest feeling in the world. You really feel like you’re giving something. You’re giving someone an experience.

PEV: So, what is next for AM?

AM: Tour, tour, tour. New album “Soul Variations”.

For more information on AM, check out: and


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