[December 2002]

Here is Mike's interview.
(Remember how to spell his name : L A T T R E L L ! ;-p )
Thank you again, Isabelle, for your help.

Hello Mike LATTRELL. 
I would like to thank you for answering my request for an interview. 
This interview will be published on my website,
So, let’s go.

First question, how are you ? 
I know you just come back from an exhausting tour with Popa CHUBBY, across Europe. How do you feel ?

I feel good. We had a really good tour. It's nice to be home for a few weeks.

This year, the Popa CHUBBY’s fans have had the surprise to discover two new musicians : 
Kenny SOULE on the drums, and Nicholas D’AMATO on the bass. 
What do you think of both these great musicians ?
(I saw you in Thann, France, on November, 22. They sounded great – you too ! 
I was waiting for Kris JEFFERSON and Larry CROCKET, but hey, these new guys are really good !).

You're right, they are both great musicians as well as good guys. 

I met Kenny for the first time on this tour. He has played with a lot of groups and is no stranger to touring in Europe. 
Solid drummer. 

Nicholas and I had worked on a couple of projects together in New York over the past few years 
so I had no doubts about his bass playing and was happy he came on board

What is your best memory of the 2002 European Popa CHUBBY Tour ? 
Is there any funny anecdote you could tell us ?

Well , we started touring in January of 2002 and played in over 12 different countries. 
That's a lot to think about ! 

One memory that sticks in my mind was watching an amazing fireworks display after a festival 
in Portugal that was held on the grounds of a castle overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. 
It was beautiful.

A funny anecdote? 
In Corsica we rented scooters and I was coming down a steep hill leading to a dirt parking area near the beach. 
I was trying to be cool and do one of those fancy skidding stops, but instead, I wrecked the scooter. 
There was gas everywhere ! ...Maybe you had to be there !!

What is your worst memory ?

I don't really have any bad memories from the tour. 
The worst part about touring is being away from your friends and family for so long.

Today, a new musical style is spreading out, called the New York City Blues . 
But some people are likely to say it is an artificial and commercial strategy,
in order to promote some associated musicians from New York. 

What do you think of that ?

I wouldn't call it a new style. What is new maybe is the recognition and/or acceptance that blues can come from NYC. 
I lived in NYC for 10 years and played with a lot of hard working, sincere, and passionate blues musicians. 

Is it artificial? Absolutely not. 
There is definately characteristics that set NYC blues apart from blues from other parts of the U.S. 

Is it a commercial strategy? 
It's a defining label, like music that is promoted as Texas Blues, Chicago Blues, West Coast Blues, 
Delta Blues, New Orleans Blues, Country Blues, ect. It is what it is.....blues from New York City.

Except this European tour with Popa, tell us what are your plans for 2003 ? 
Will you be touring across Europ with Christine SANTELLI ? Will you play with other bands ?

As a working musician, you try to take all the work you can get. 
Touring with Popa keeps me busy, and 2003 looks to be another busy year with Popa starting with a U.S. tour in January. 
You have to juggle your schedule. In addition to the Chubby tour in 2002, I toured with Christine in Norway, 
Switzerland, and some shows in the States. 

I've been working with Christine for more than 12 years, and will continue to do so on one level or another. 
As a sideman, it's not uncommon to be involved in many projects at the same time. 
I really enjoy working with different artists and playing different music. 
As a sideman, an artist hires you because of what you bring to the table, but at the same time, 
you have to stay true to that particular artist's musical vision. It's an interesting challenge. 

For me, achieving that balance of being an integral part of a musical concept
but at the same time leaving my personal musical signature is both musically and personally gratifying.

You know, Mike, the Popa CHUBBY fans know how good you play the keyboards, 
and how incredible you sound, but we actually don’t know who you are. 

So, who is Mike LATTRELL ? How did you come to music ? What are your musical influences ?


I was born and raised in Keeseville, in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York. (near Lake Placid).
I started playing piano at age 6 and in high school I started to play tuba, trombone, bass guitar, mandolin, and a little guitar. 

My influences are varied. I played piano and trombone in the high school jazz band. 
I played tuba for 6 years in the school's wind ensemble. That was mostly classical and pop music arranged for a 40 piece band. 
As a teenager, I had a summer job for 3 years playing tuba in a 6 piece combo at a theme park. 
We played polkas, jazz, pop music, Christmas music, dixieland, and marching band music. 
My high school music instructor, Carl Boissy, was a major influence. 

I played organ in church for over 10 years. I've sang and played mandolin and bass guitar in a few bluegrass bands. 
I love bluegrass music.

I was first turned on to blues after meeting and playing with Vann "Piano Man" Walls when I was 19. 
Vann was a major recording session piano player for Atlantic Records in the 50's. 
It is because of Vann that I decided I wanted to play blues piano. He stood out. He made you take notice of the piano player. 
He wasn't just another piano player hidden at the back of the stage playing "nice-little-tinkly" stuff. 

And ever since (I'm 31 now), I've been playing keyboards in a lot of bands, in a lot of places. 

So, all of these experiences have influenced and shaped the musician that I am today.

If you had to recommend some records to us, what would be your top five ?

This is the most difficult question you could ask me ! How about my top 500 records ? 

I have a very large CD collection and my girlfriend laughs when I put on a CD because I always announce "This is one of my favorite records"! 
She says "You say that everytime".

But it's true - they are all my favorite records. That's why I own them. 

But for the sake of answering your question, here are 5 that I recommend:

1) Willie Nelson "Red Headed Stranger" (Columbia)
2) The Stanley Brothers "The Complete Columbia Stanley Brothers" (Columbia)
3) The Band "The Last Waltz" (Warner Bros.)
4) James Booker "Resurrection of the Bayou Maharajah" (Rounder)
5) Memphis Slim & Willie Dixon "aux trois mailletz" (Verve)

Let’s talk about music.
You are a multi instrumentalist. What instruments do you play ? 
What’s your favorite instrument, and what kind of equipment do you use ?

I think I answered what instruments I play in a previous question. 
Right now, my favorite instrument is a Fender electric mandolin I bought this summer. I play it everyday. 

I own a Hammond M3 organ and a Leslie 145 speaker cabinet, but since it's difficult to bring that rig on tour 
I own a digital Hammond XK-2 and a Motion Sound Pro-3T and Low Pro speaker. 

For stage pianos, I prefer Roland. I think they have the closest feel to a real piano and the sounds are great. 
I own a Roland RD-600. 
I also own a Korg SG1D stage piano, a Fender Rhodes, an old Korg Trident MKIII synth, 
a Korg CX-3 organ, a Korg M-1, a Korg Poly-800 synth and a great little Cazio CZ101 ! 

(All stored away at various undisclosed locations) hahaha

We’re waiting for a solo album ! Is it in your plans ?

I get asked that question a lot actually. Yes, it is in my plans. 
When? I don't know. Somewhere down the road.

I’ve heard you’re now living in France. What represents France for you ?


Yes, I live in the south of France with my girlfriend, whom I met two and a half years ago in France. 
(I'd like to thank her for translating my english responses into french for this interview) 

I think what represents France for me is the interesting balance between the old and the new. TGV's racing past ancient castles. 
People walking down cobblestone streets talking on cell phones. 
Embracing new technologies yet retaining the old culture and traditions.

What about your website,
http://www.mikelattrell.com ?

When I started the website, it was just a schedule of who and where I would be playing. 
Just something so that friends could find me if they were out on the town. 
A hobby, I guess. And then I just kept adding. It's not finished yet. 

I'm working on a biography page and I plan to add more pictures and sounds and redesign the whole look.

What question would you like to ask to yourself ? 
What would be the answer ?

Ask me about baseball. I like to talk about baseball.

What question has NOT to be asked to Mike LATTRELL ?

Yeah. Don't ask me what question not to ask me.

Finally, would you have something more to tell to the fans ?

Thank you for coming to the shows, and I wish everyone a happy and prosperous New Year. . . . . . .

Well, thank you again for spending time on this interview !
I and all your fans (especially european fans ;-) ) wish you a merry Christmas and an happy new Year !
See you soon, on tour…