Mike Frazier, a singer-songwriter based out of Winchester, Virginia released his Virginia Son EP back in August. He’s about to embark on a tour of the West Coast with his band, Mike Frazier and the Dying Wild. His sound has hints of Frank Turner mixed with classic rock and roll, making the five-song EP perfect for fall listening. Before embarking on tour, he chatted with us to give us a glimpse into his roots, tour playlists and his record label, Geneva Records.
Modern Vinyl: To get started, can you tell us a little history about yourself, and how you got your start?
Mike Frazier: I started playing punk rock at a pretty young age, but my first band wasn’t until my freshman year in high school, called Random Holiday. We toured a pretty decent amount and released a few records. That band met a timely end in December 2014. RH definitely laid the groundwork for what I’m doing now. However, Virginia Son is my attempt at revisiting my roots. I tried to encapsulate the kind of punk rock I grew up on with, the old rock and roll my dad would show me as a young kid. I’m really thankful for all I learned from that first band and I know it shaped who I am, and how I do things with music.
MV: Not too long ago, you released the “Virginia Son” 7″. Where did you draw inspiration for that, other than your Virginia roots?
MF: I wanted to write music that not only reflected personal situations, but social events that are happening in our present day. I strive to represent the times in a meaningful and honest way that coincides with my life in the Shenandoah Valley.
MV: Where are some of your favorite spots in Virginia to hang out in, perform in, or where you go to take in the sights the state has to offer?
MF: I’m going to try and narrow my very lengthy list down to three of my favorite locations. First off, there’s a spot off Route 7 towards Leesburg called Bear’s Den. There’s a cliff face where the view of the valley couldn’t be captured by camera. Second would definitely be Virginia Beach or the Tidewater region as a whole. Newport News, downtown Norfolk and of course the beach are all some of my favorite places to be in Va. Lastly, I’d say Skyline Drive. It’s in Shenandoah National Park, and this 100 mile scenic byway holds incredible views. The best time of year to visit would definitely be in the fall. If you want foliage like you’ve never seen, then that’s the spot. I actually just filmed a music video there [last month].
MV: “Virginia Son” was released via Geneva Records, which is your little independent label. How did Geneva get its start?
MF: I fantasized with the idea of starting my own label for a few years, and back in the winter I decided to make it a reality. I drew inspiration from indie labels like Fat Wreck, and built my label platform around similar principles. So after a few months of planning and attempts at signing bands, I decided I’d just put out my own record and make that the first release. This would also be the first release for my new project. I’m really happy with how it turned out and now I can focus on adding more bands to the roster.
MV: What do you hope to accomplish with Geneva Records, and how do you see it growing in the future?
MF: If I can put out records for great bands that are filled with great people, and create an environment where I can successfully get their art in as many people’s hands as possible, then I’d be more than happy. I also really want to use the label for community involvement. For example, we’re releasing a charity comp with 15 artists from all over to help raise money for an incredible organization in my hometown. I have plans for a few releases next year so I’m hoping we can make them really notable. I’m so stoked on the bands that I’m going to be working with.
MV: What are some of the best and worst things about running an independent label?
MF: Being able to put out records DIY is really something special. The effort and time put in is completely worth it. Obviously it’s more difficult to run a label without any corporate backing, and not having the funds to do really extravagant releases, but everything I try to do with the label is coming from a genuine place, and I know I have a lot of room to grow. That’s the best part; the opportunity to own and operate a label that works to celebrate genuine artists, and give them all the attention they deserve. I don’t have to worry that the label isn’t giving the artists enough of its energy, because I’m the one running it, and I know how much effort I would hope to receive.
MV: When you want to write music, do you like to hide away from everybody, or is there a secret spot you go to that helps inspire you?
MF: Honestly, I write when it’s really late at night. Usually that’s when the ideas come to me, so generally I’m just sitting alone in my bedroom messing around with my acoustic. There’s no real designated hideaway. I wrote “Virginia Son” in my apartment, which was pretty cool because I would just sit for hours and hours alone and write, but I’m going to try some new tactics on the next record for sure.
MV: You’re about to embark on a tour this month. How are you getting ready for that, and where are you most excited to play?
MF: I’ve been mentally prepping for the longest drives I’ve ever had to do, but mainly I’ve just been getting the van tour ready and ordering new merch. The opportunity of playing at 924 Gilman is one of those goals I chalked up for myself. It’s so cool that we are going to be playing there, considering the bands I love like Green Day, Rancid and Operation Ivy started there, so I would have to say that’s the place I’m most looking forward to playing. Also just getting to play on the West Coast with Second To Last is going to be a real treat. I can’t wait to watch them rip every night over there.
MV: Do you have any songs on a road trip playlist prepped for the tour, and if so, would you care to share part of it with us?
MF: Tour playlists on Spotify have been an essential part of tour preparation as well. No one in the van really likes what I like so I try to put some of the bands they’re into on the playlists. However I always make sure my music is the dominating soundtrack. The new Frank Turner album is gold, from front to back. Every song is fantastic. Oh also the song “Sequestered in Memphis” by The Hold Steady might as well be one of the best rock and roll songs of our time. I should include Nicki Minaj and Beyoncé’s single “Feelin’ Myself” on this list as well.
MV: Is there anything else you’d like to add for the readers of Modern Vinyl?
MF: A huge thanks to you all for the interview, this is a really cool site. Also big thanks to anyone who’s checked out the record, and to keep a look out for the Geneva Records Charity Compilation coming out on Black Friday.
Mike Frazier’s tour kicks off this week in Martinsburg, West Virginia at Ruritan, and runs through November 22nd ending at Pittsburgh’s Smiling Moose. On select dates, Second To Last will be performing as well. You can pick up a copy of his EP in a digital format, as well as physical 7″ and CD formats over at his Bandcamp page.
The full dates can be found below:
Nov. 3rd – Martinsburg WV @ Ruritan
Nov. 4th – Radford VA @ Screamers
Nov. 5th – For Payne AL @ The Spot
Nov. 6th – Little Rock AK @ Riverview Skatepark
Nov. 7th – Carrolton TX @ Festival at the Switchyard
Nov. 9th – El Paso TX @ Mesa Music Hall
Nov. 10th – Flagstaff AZ @ The Cabin
Nov. 11th – Las Vegas NV @ Beach Hut Deli*
Nov. 12th – Fullerton CA @ Slide Bar*
Nov. 13th – Guadalupe CA @ Just Juices*
Nov. 14th – Berkeley CA @ 924 Gilman*
Nov. 15th – Lodi CA @ The Bullpen*
Nov. 17th – Reno NV @ Fort Ryland*
Nov. 18th – Logan UT @ Why Sound
Nov. 19th – Denver CO @ Seventh Circle Music Collective
Nov. 20th – Kansas City MO @ Blind Tiger
Nov. 21st – Columbus OH @ House Show
Nov. 22nd – Pittsburgh PA @ Smiling Moose
* with Second To Last