On the road with Mike Mangione
When I started taking music seriously I set out in a van with my dog, slept at truck stops and learned how to travel the country by myself. I became really good at slipping into conversations, making friends, staying social all the while without being too creepy (at least I think). One day I realized the music I heard in my head as I played was not what the audience was hearing. I heard the whole song roaring like an orchestra; the audience heard a guy playing really loud on his guitar … and not very well.
It was perfect timing when my brother, Tom, showed interest in joining me on the road. Soon after, one by one, we added members until we settled on four others: The Union. For seven years they have stayed the same, no change over, no replacements. Just the same old crew traveling from Salt Lake to New York, Duluth to San Antonio, Madrid to Manila and back again … spending countless hours together and at times on top of each other. The same people day in and day out, year after year, and I love it.
Occasionally someone will ask me what advice I could give them as they begin their music career. My response is two sides of the same coin. A. Make sure what you hear in your head is accurately being translated to your audience. B. Surround yourself in a band of people you love. The only way this all works is because of love. We love playing our instruments, we love playing music, we love playing together and most importantly, we love each other. That’s it. In this industry and in this day and age there can be so much against you. Having a band of brothers and sisters, having a family to fall back on, is the only way, I have found, it is possible to bear its weight. I can not guarantee I will play incredible, I can not guarantee the room will be packed, I can not guarantee the radio will love our single, or critics will love the album and doors of opportunity will fling open! I cannot guarantee that all we are trying to do as a band will go as planned … but I can guarantee I will be loved by those I am trying with and that makes it possible.