The Crawler recently caught up with platinum-haired, platinum-selling White Lion frontman Mike Tramp at his recent solo acoustic show at The Palace Theater in Stafford, Conn.
Here’s some of what went down:
Crawler: I understand you just got off the Monsters of Rock cruise and wondered if you could tell me what that was like. Have you done it before? Any cool jams with other headliners?
Mike Tramp: No, I hadn’t done it before, and I am happy that it didn’t happen before now, as I was now able to be the person and artist I am and not try to hold onto something I am not. It was incredible to interact with the rock fans who have been along for the ride for a long time, and now it’s almost like we go into the next chapter together.
I dig your latest, Cobblestone Street. I hear you have a follow-up in the can. Can you tell me more about it... styles, influences?
We’re still a bit off before it will be out in August. The album follows a natural progression from Cobblestone Street, as I certainly didn’t want to record two of the same albums. There is no doubt that this is the same artist, the same songwriter and also, once again, shows that my songwriting shows who I am and is consistent.
Seems by your current stuff, you are really into Springsteen and Dylan. Has this always been the case, or is it a more recent fascination?
Well, yes, I am. But let’s also keep in mind that they are both part of a style and movement that goes even further back. I was raised in the late ’60s, where folk music was very strong, and on every street corner or park bench in Copenhagen, Denmark, where I grew up, sat a hippie with an acoustic guitar who sang protest songs. I didn’t know it then or even for a long time, but it is where I am from. It is the blueprint to Mike Tramp, not David Lee Roth.
Does this play into your hitting the road as a solo act? Have you toyed with putting a full band together for your solo stuff?
Yes, it does, but it’s also a fact that it would be impossible to do with a band—there isn’t enough money for that, and after all, I am not out here to drink beer or chase girls. I am a working artist and a father to three.
I didn’t realize you were such a guitarist. Did you write the bulk of the White Lion songs yourself, or was it more collaborative from the start?
Well, I am not, but I am a songwriter and I can play that simple stuff better than most six-finger guitarists. Strumming was never Vito’s [Bratto, White Lion guitarist] style or thing, but it is the only thing I know how to do, and I do it well and it’s where my songs are from. Vito and I wrote all the songs together, and in many cases they started like the way I am playing them today.
You are still friends with the White Lion guys, right? Eddie Van Halen grabbed all the Guitar World covers, but I remember thinking, “Wow, this Vito has never played one note that isn’t tasty.”
What is a friend? My friends stay in touch with me weekly; I haven’t talked to Vito for over two years, James [LoMenzo] for two years and Greg [D’Angelo] for 13 years. Yes, Vito is one of the finest and most tasty guitar players ever. I don’t think there is one single player that plays that melodic. Very sad that he hides from it all.•
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