Interview: Mike Pinto

Interview: Mike Pinto

The Mike Pinto Band has been on the road for over six weeks in support of their new EP release “The West Is Still Wild”. As the tour was winding down, appropriately on the west coast, Mike Pinto and his band mates, Todd Elrod (drums), Matt Brein (bass), and Max O’Leary (trumpet and keyboard) sat down with The Pier backstage at Martini Ranch in Scottsdale, AZ.

Mike Pinto was pretty cool backstage, and the set up for the venue was awesome. It was really smooth to get access. He actually walked right up to me while I was having a drink with Cisco from Fayuca. Both of them instantly saw my Pier shirt. Started recording for the interview and we just shot the breeze for almost a half hour.

In full spirit with only a handful of shows left on this tour, Mike Pinto was excited about his new music and their live performances thus far. Along with the new EP, Mike discussed a highly anticipated show at the San Diego House of Blues, on stage collaborations with Josh Heinrichs, as well as Arkansas being the best stop on tour. Enjoy!

The Pier: Mike, it is great to catch up with you again, especially after releasing your “The West Is Still Wild” EP. But first, give us some insight on the tour thus far?
Mike Pinto: The tour has been great! Each night has been really fun. Sometimes even two nights! But, over the past two months it was been pretty intense. We love the road and getting our music out to fans, but somewhere around that six week point, you get a little drained.

The Pier: This fall tour was in support of your latest EP “The West is Still Wild”. How has the response been at live shows, especially when it comes to the lyrics?
Mike Pinto: Each night is a different reaction. The crowds have been awesome on each stop. We have had some amazing nights all along this tour. Each crowd takes the lyrics and our sound really well. Telling stories is what we do, and it is fun for the fans and us. Overall, playing the new songs live, we have received a great response on tour.

The Pier: And within your music, your foundation is that killer acoustic guitar. But you basically bring it all to the table with reggae, ska, solid rock, some blues and jazz. What’s your preference in style to play live?
Mike Pinto: That really depends on the energy of the crowd. We like to slow it down a little bit, but we can also make the crowd jump some. With a full band, adding the trumpet, trombone, and keys, we really have a wide range of influences that come out of our live show. The last few nights we have been playing some upbeat music from the new EP and that has been really fun.

The Pier: What about jam sessions with Josh Heinrichs on the road? Have you two had the chance to sit down and combine writing minds?
Mike Pinto: Yes. We have had some down time while on the road. We have had a couple songs that we have performed together on stage. Josh jumped on for “The Cool and The Deadly”, which really got the crowd going. For studio work, we love collaborating. Really, the more people, the better. I love working with talented musicians. It’s fun to us.

The Pier: You featured a full band on “The West is Still Wild” EP. Throughout that album you added some work on the keys and horns, was any of that outside work with De La or C-Money from Slightly Stoopid or more musically talented friends?
Mike Pinto: We have linked up in the past to perform live with them. They are some good friends. But for this album Max and Josh, who are on tour with us too, helped with the recordings. We are adding to the sound and it’s a growing process. But the sound right now is really working.

The Pier: On this tour, have there been any memorable shows or venues thus far?
Mike Pinto: Yes! Eureka Springs, Arkansas! (laughs) You would never believe it, but it is absolutely amazing there! We actually stayed in a cabin on the top of this mountain, and played two nights at a little local bar, and had the best time on tour. We had time to enjoy ourselves and get some down time to relax. Never thought a couple nights in Arkansas would be so great, but the natural setting with the music was really awesome. Other than that, we did play a few new spots or some second timers for us. We went Montana with Iration last tour, so we headed back again for another show. But each night is enjoyable.

The Pier: Do you have a preference between a firmly packed nightclub, compared to a cavernous arena or amphitheatre that is around half capacity?
Mike Pinto: Wow! That’s interesting…I would have to say the really intimate club or bar. When everyone is packed into the room, nice and close, that is ideal. The big venues are nice for a payout, but for the environment for the fans and for us as performers, the fans right up against the stage really like the small spots.

The Pier: Thank you, Mike. Everyone at The Pier is truly grateful! Is there anything else you would like to say to your fans?
Mike Pinto: First, thank you to all the fans for the support throughout the tour. We have been playing our new songs from the EP, so don’t forget to grab a copy of that. And we are also winding down this tour, but also have a major show at the House of Blues in San Diego on November 23rd. So, if you are in So Cal that is a great chance to see our new work live!

Mike Pinto Links:
Mike Pinto Website
-You can read The Pier’s official Album Review for The West Is Still Wild EP by clicking HERE

Interview by: Kris Siuta
Photos by: Bill Colbridge and Amanda Zancanella