Mike Dean is soft spoken, laid back, and strangely wise – an interesting figure to pick apart to be sure – which is exactly what we did!
Interview By Matt Bacon
From January 2016 Vandala Magazine
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So how are you Mike?
Mike: I’m doing pretty good. Just touring man. Waiting to get out of the festival thing and get the tour back on track..
Do you not like the festival thing?
Mike: Sometimes you get lost in the shuffle. It’s a lot to take in. Even if I wanted to see every band it would be too much to digest.
What do you like so much about the road?
Mike: Well last night was a great example – Shreveport, Louisiana. We hadn’t played there in a long time and not a lot of tours stop there. We got to play to some people who were hungry for some music that they’re familiar with and that they want to see. There’s a high level of enthusiasm because they’re not bombarded with too many bands. I like those unpredictable places that turn out to be awesome when you thought it wasn’t going to be that good.
I remember Witch Mountain telling me Omaha was amazing on their last tour…
Mike: I can see that! Omaha you never know. You just never know!
What are the other places that blow your mind like that?
Mike: I don’t know. There are a couple places in Germany like that.
Are you still in love with the magic of the road?
Mike: I like traveling. It’s still cool to just be on the way to somewhere and to cover some ground. You can see what’s left of the open spaces. I enjoy that for a certain period of time.
How long until you start to crack?
Mike: Three weeks or so. Then I’m about ready to tag up home for a while.
Are you happy with where COC is at now?
Mike: Oh yeah. It’s at this point where we’re sort of reconfiguring the lineup back to what we were doing on Deliverance and kind of getting ourselves ready to make a record.
What is the pressure like creating a record now that you’ve put out so many classics that define the scene?
Mike: It’s just a perception. Expectations are any pressure are just from perception. That’s not a super tangible thing. Some of the stuff we’ve done has just come pretty naturally. The stuff that is held in highest regard just came so naturally that it doesn’t feel like there’s too much pressure.
So it’s a reflection of yourself?
Mike: To some degree. It’s not about us. It’s just about channeling the kind of musical statement we want to make. In a way it’s a little traditional, we try do something fresh but there’s a lot of traditional elements. We’re into traditional rock really.
But now you’re part of the tradition… do you see yourself as part of it?
Mike: Not in a self important way. Hubris can get you. But in a sense that there is a responsibility to do something good.
Why do you feel that responsibility?
Mike: Because it wouldn’t be fulfilling to do something shitty!
But do you feel a responsibility to create art?
Mike: Well if you’re going to ask people for their time to listen to something then yeah. Why bother doing something that’s not cool? Do something that you’re proud of. We listen to a lot of music and have an idea of what kind of stands the test of time and what we’d like to turn too again and again. We just aspire to create something that might fall into that category for someone else.
So you want that for the next album?
Mike: Yeah but you can’t think too much about it or try too hard.
How’s the progress on that been?
Mike: We’ve been playing a lot of shows so we’ve done some individual writing and pulling together ideas but that’s it. When we’re done with this run around the beginning of the year we’ll get together and compare notes and jam on some stuff. There’s only so much you can do on the bus or in a sound check. We’ve got a couple riffs going though.
No comments on any direction then?
Mike: That’s definitely to be determined. I have a couple of insights as to where it might go but I don’t want to put those out there really. I’d be interested to hear what the other guys would say!
You’ve known two of those guys for more than thirty years… what is your relationship like now? How do you maintain a relationship?
Mike: You just let it be. You don’t try too hard to make it anything it’s not. We’ve got a common purpose and that’s pretty much enough. It’s not something I get overly analytical about. If it wasn’t fun we wouldn’t do it.
Is that a general life ethos? If it’s not fun you don’t do it?
Mike: No – we still have responsibilities and shit that needs to get done. As far as anything like creative or artsy is concerned hopefully that’s a maxim that you can apply to it. But there might be days that it’s not that fun due to external conditions. But if most of the time you don’t have to tough your way through it then it’s worth it.
Is there a maxim you do live your life by? Mine is f**k it…
Mike: That’s pretty broad but on some level that works. Anything that you want to accomplish that you care too much about and pre-occupy about is going to go sour. You need to have a certain detachment to make it work. You can’t be too controlling about things and to some degree you have to let it happen. So yeah, f**k it.
What do you love so much about music?
Mike: The music that I love kind of gets you outside of the normal monkey brain state of mind where you’re worrying about this or that. Music that I actually enjoy which is… some of it… takes you to another mental space. That’s good. You don’t get too fixated on one version of reality that you think is real.
Is music an escape from reality?
Mike: It’s an escape from one version of reality. To some degree at least.
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