First, tell us your name.
Mike Rock (Yup, it’s on the birth certificate). It’s too bad it wasn’t Rockefeller.
Which Sam Ash location(s) have you worked at?
Sam Ash HQ, Carle Place, Huntington, and Music Row 48th St. Stores including Manny’s, as well as time spent in Dallas, Houston, Nashville, and San Diego.
Home Town: Where were you born/raised?
Ozone Park Queens and Long Island NY.
Current Location: What Town/City do you currently Reside?
I’m Bad, I’m Nationwide (In Transit).
How long have you worked for Sam Ash music?
What artist/moment inspired you to pursue music?
I can’t pinpoint any one defining moment that I was swept away by Music. It was not like a bucket of cold water to the face, but more a constantly running waterfall. My Grandfather was a pro trumpet player in NYC’s musicians Union. Vincent Bach delivered a Stradivarius Trumpet to my grandfather right in the pit set up, before a show, in 1929. My mother was a Jazz singer and I was exposed to great music from as early as I can remember. Great music always filled the house, like Stan Kenton, Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Lambert Hendricks and Ross, Frank Sinatra, Stephane Grappelli, and unfortunately, my arch nemesis-I hated Mel Torme. I do remember discovering the Beatles, and the powerful introduction to ‘Paperback Writer’ opining a whole new chapter in musical exploration. There was no Rock and Roll, or electric blues, or symphonic music in the house, until I discovered a love for Muddy Waters, The Yardbirds, Aaron Copland, Stravinsky, and Rachmaninoff. I guess being a Trumpet player from an early age, led me to love orchestral music, and the sounds and melodies created by the Beatles, led me to play the guitar. It was likely Disco that led me to Iggy Pop, The Cramps, Sex Pistols, and Johnny Thunders. Outside of my loved ones, music of all types from Beethoven, to LeadBelly, Gershwin to Louis Armstrong, Bob Wills to Devo, is my most satisfying, indispensable loved companion. In short, nothing inspired me to pursue music. Music was in pursuit of me.
What’s your musical background?
I learned the European ‘solfeggio’ music reading, and ear training method from my very patient and wonderful Grandfather. He was well past the age that he played anymore, but could write Trumpet solos for me, using only an ink pen and manuscript paper, without even the help of a piano: All ear, and knowledge. I loved listening to music so much at a young age, that it felt as good as riding a bike. By the time I played my first notes, it felt like flying down the road on a stroked Harley Davidson. I played in every musical venture open to me, and practiced endlessly. I started playing the guitar at about 13, opening endless new doors of expression, and wonder. I toured Europe in a youth orchestra at 15 years old, and played my first gig on the electric guitar (A Carlo Robelli MIJ Fuji made Strat copy, like Richie Blackmore used to play, and well…smash), in a bar at about 16 (I looked about 45). I got an associate’s degree in Music from Nassau Community College, and went on to the Aaron Copeland School of music, but took a break when my booking sheet got too busy to keep up. I figured the bookings will slow down, and I could get back to studies. Unfortunately, or fortunately (depending on your point of view) my band stayed very busy for the next 25 or so years. My education is ongoing in-home practice, and in rehearsal halls, club gigs, and I follow my guitar wherever it takes me.
What would you say is unique about you musically?
I don’t know that there is anything unique about my musicality. That is for others to decide. I can say only this: There are advantages to playing top 40, or music written by someone else. There are also advantages to playing only playing self-penned music. Playing original music allows me a blank template. I’d like to think I take after some of the players I admire most by serving the song, and style, before serving myself.
How are you involved in your local music scene?
I have Played in Brussels in Belgium, Amsterdam in Holland, Paris France, London England, and Athens Greece. Domestically- Chicago, Texas the North and South East, but my local scene was always NY. In the nearly 40 years of live playing, the face of the local music Scene has changed so much, that it is nearly unrecognizable from when I started. Venues I often played in my early days of Long Island and NYC are all long gone. Rum Bottoms, Good Times, Heckle and Jeckel, Speaks, Spize, My Fathers Place, The Right Track inn, February’s, LaMore, Thrush, Malibu, Network, The OBI and more. NYC venues have all changed or evaporated also: Max’s Kansas City, Great Gildersleeve’s, CBGB (well over 100 gigs), The Continental/Continental divide (too many shows to calculate), Coney Island High, The Ritz, Webster Hall, Wetlands, Hogs and Heifers (The inspiration for Hollywood’s ‘Coyote Ugly’ bar), Zone DK, The Pyramid Club, Lismar Lounge (With GG Allin), The World, Washington Square park, and many more ‘local’ spots.
What are you personal goals as a musician?
This is the easiest question anyone can ever ask me: Musicianship is its own reward. My goal is to learn, explore, and continue to expand my musical abilities through personal exploration and practice, and with my Bandmates of 34 years, Sea Monster.
Primary Music Genre/Style
Stravinsky to Sex Pistols. toss in some Hank Williams I & III, (I’m a little ‘iffy’ on Hank Jr.), Django Reinhardt, Franky Goes to Hollywood, Albert Lee, Motown, and Iggy Pop. For me, it’s all about creativity, power, and emotive writing and playing. Ella Fitzgerald singing ‘Caravan’, and Iggy Pop’s, “Search and Destroy” register equally on the power scale. I am far from talented enough to contain the essence of any one of these greats, but I try to take what I can from all I love. My Genre/Style? Call it ‘Patchwork’.
Tell us about some of your latest projects.
The latest full-length recording project I’ve done (aside from an occasional recording track work) is the Sea Monster album ‘Here come the Moon’. I am currently out of state, but play occasional shows with the band I’ve been in since 1984: NYC based Sea Monster.
I never set out to become a ‘Rock Star’, or First Chair Philharmonic status player. I will say again, Music itself is its own reward. However, I have had perks that I’d have never had an opportunity to enjoy if not for my band’s limited success. I have played guitar in Bo Diddley’s band. I’ve played on Stage with Gary Hoey, and one of my all-time favorites, Elliot Easton. I have stood in front of the Acropolis in Athens, thanks to a few gigs in Greece. Cheetah Chrome, Johnny Thunders, and Slash have stepped up on stage and played with my band. I’ve had the pleasure of being on the same bill as Blondie, James Chance, Richard Hell, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Iggy Pop, Blues great Clarence ‘Gatemouth’ Brown, David Peel, White Zombie, The Ramones, Blues Traveler, Monster Magnet, Tool, The Fleshtones, Spin Doctors, and even the Beat Poet Allen Ginsberg.
You can find Mike Rock’s music at the links below!
Sea Monster – Sex God Chant (Music Video)
Sea Monster – That’s All (Music Video)