Interview / Mike Tramp

22. oktober 2009

Interview with Mike Tramp
 
  
Mike Tramp and Me (2006) and Tramp today 
 
Calle: You started your career by singing in the local youth club. Did you have a dream of becoming a rock star back then? 
 

Tramp: No that’s the interesting thing about how it all started out. I had o dream or even goal of being a musician or a performer on stage. It was just a hobby, something you did, when you weren’t playing soccer or other stuff.

 

Calle: What got you into music in the first place?

 

Tramp: I mean this was like a bolt of lighting striking you. I went from someone who was just messing around with music in the youth club then straight into a professional band with a record deal and a tour booked, and I had never ever performed with a band on stage before. It’s quiet scary looking back at how it all happened

 

Calle: What singers/bands are your biggest influences?

 

Tramp: Oh it has changed through my life. Of course there were the first bands that made you love rock’n’roll. Slade, Sweet, then came Queen that still is one of my all time favorite bands together with Thin Lizzy. I was then introduced to all of big 70’s bands from Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Bad Company and so many others. But it wasn’t really before later on in my life that I really started appreciating what those bands really are. I actually had to go through the 80s to then end back up in 70s classic rock and staying there.

 

Mabel
 
Calle: You have been in a couple of bands, and Mabel was the first one. What’s your best memory from that time?

 

Tramp: The best thing about it is the journey you take together with your band members, where everyday is another step in the building and progress of the bands rise. With Mabel it was my first time for everything that I later on took for granted. I was just 15½ years old when I started out and I knew nothing. But I had to learn quick cause I was working in a grown-up mans business.

 

Calle: Mabel moved to Spain and changed their name to Studs. Why Studs and why Spain?

 

Tramp: Well this is where it all gets a bit interesting. Like I said earlier on, in Mabel I was just a pup and followed everything that was being told to me. But soon I started having an opinion even if i really didn’t have anything to say. I still started feeling strongly about music and the direction we were going and the wrong decisions we were making. But by the time we moved to Spain I had started writing most of the songs and pushing for more distortion on the guitars, more rock, more roll and I had taking everything American in to my heart and that is what I wanted to do and where I wanted to go. So I told our record company in Spain that Mabel was done and over with, but Studs had risen from the ashes in denim and leather. Then we did the album and it felt real good doing that stuff, even though looking back or listening back we are so far from what we thought we were. But of course I can hear the foundation of what Mike Tramp would become. 

 

Calle: Later on Studs moved to America and changed their name to Danish Lion. Then the rest of the band returned back to Denmark. What made you stay?

 

Tramp: Oh that was a very hard choice. I was in the greatest country for rock’n’roll, the 80s had just begun, and back home in Denmark waited negative people and a life style that tells you that you can be more than others or different than others. Thank god that has changed now, but back then it was the last place on earth i wanted to be. I was so fucking happy to be in New York, even broke with out a place to live, I was still in heaven.

 

White Lion
 
Calle: Then you formed White Lion. How did you and Vito meet?

 

Tramp: Vito and I met the 22nd of November at L’amours rock club in Brooklyn, where Lion and his band Dreamer where playing together. When he walked in to the dressing room where us 5 Danish boys were sitting like nice school boys and he whipped out his Stratocaster and started playing. I knew that he was light years ahead of us, and I knew that I wanted to play with someone like that, and not long after The Danes went back home to Denmark. Vito and I started building the band that later on would become White Lion.

 

Calle: What are your best memories from your time in White Lion?

 

Tramp: The early years, building the band, writing the songs, re-writing the songs. The first big tours, hearing a big crowd scream for you, just watching the band get bigger and bigger seeing our dream become real.

 

Freak Of Nature
 
Calle: After White Lion your formed Freak Of Nature. They had a harder sound. Where you trying to get away from the “so-called hair metal”?

 

Tramp: Even today, I just think it is wrong to call anything Hair Metal. Yes it was the look of one of the greatest decades in rock’n’roll. But when we (White Lion) were working hard in a freezing cold Brooklyn basement with sweaters, hats and some of us gloves. There were no talking hair, there were just the music and the music is what is on the albums today, not the hair. When I started Freak it was just a natural way of progressing, it is a simple as that. The whole business was changing, the sound was changing, and it is hard not to change to. So we just became what we sound like playing together. This was 4 other guys coming in with their sound mixing with me and then we became Freak of nature and it was a few great years and some killer albums.

 

Calle: What are your best memories from your time in Freak Of Nature?

 

Tramp: While we were a band it was the best band and environment I have ever been in and experienced, it was really like we had all grown up together. Unfortunately it had to end.

 

After Freak Of Nature, Tramp has released a few solo albums and one more White Lion album. He has been touring the world with his solo stuff and also with the new version of White Lion. He recently moved back to Denmark and the journey goes on………

 
Calle: You recently appeared in the Danish tv-show “Allstars”. Why did you say yes to be in that show? 
 

Tramp: It is the only show of the many, many that I have been offered that had to do with music and where i could be myself all the way. So it was an easy yes, especially since I had planed to spent time in Denmark at the same time the show was going on.

 

Calle: I have heard people say that you have “sold out” by doing “Allstars”. What’s your opinion on that?

 

Tramp: Tell them they are right. Or tell them to fuck off, real off. Oh Metallica sold out when they cut their hair, oh Van Halen sold out when Roth came back. Who the fuck gives a fuck what anyone says. I am my own boss and I make the decisions for me and I don’t listen to anyone. But the thing is, people think I am someone else. I am actually very simple and feel quiet at home being where I am today. And with my new album I have taken control of where I want to be and where I should have been long ago. And that is playing the music and songs that is Mike Tramp 100%.

 

 
Calle: You have just released your new solo record “Mike Tramp & The Rock ‘n’ Roll Circuz”. What can people expect from that record?

 

Tramp: That depends on what people that is. With this album I am complete, it is everything I am, and all who knows what I am will see and hear that instantly. Others will be introduced to the sound of Mike Tramp for the first time, and I am so happy it is with this album. I wouldn’t change a thing.

 

Calle: Why did you call the CD “Mike Tramp & The Rock ‘n’ Roll Circuz”?

 

Tramp: I could have called it a lot of things. But from all I had been involved this year, I felt rally that it all was part of a rock’n’roll circuz. Something that just keeps going on no matter what.

 

Calle: Many of the songs on your solo albums have very personal lyrics about family and kids (like “When She Cries” from the new album and “Have You Ever” from Capricorn). Is that your way of telling the world your thoughts?

 

Tramp: It is just so much easier being real than not. Why should I be there singing about killing trolls or fucking chicks, or doing lines of coke on the bathroom floor, when that is not what I am doing. My life is wild but it is a natural wild. But I am just better at being the real Mike Tramp, than faking it.

 

 
Calle: You also write songs about your rock ‘n’ roll life, like the song “All Of My Life” from the new record. The lyrics say: “Pussy whipped and chickenshit – When the road got tough they quit – Lot of talk but no walk – Bro this ain’t no 9 to 5”. Do you think people in the music business quit to easy?

 

Tramp: Oh yeah and some of that is a reference to some of the Danes I have had out touring the world with me, and seeing how quick they fade once they are away from the safety net. The thing is, this is my life, not a job, not vacation, but something you live and breathe rise to the top and hit rock bottom with. Then you get up and start over, because it is what you are. It is my view on life, it is my Zen, it is my life, all of my life.

 

Calle: You recorded the whole album in Medley Studios in Copenhagen with Søren Andersen as producer. He’s also the guitar player in your new band. How did you get to work with him?

 

Tramp: Co-producer that is. I have known Søren for a few years, but never played or worked with him. Suddenly the time was right, and even better was how he was able, like no one else to understand who Mike Tramp is and then bring that out of me, even when I didn’t know it. I am extremely happy we decided to work together and it was just pure pleasure developing this album. I have never let go of my music before and let others play around with it. But it was great coming to the studio in the morning and having Søren play my some things he had done during the late night, and it was almost like i was listening to some other artist then realizing it was me and it was great. Yes I am very happy.

 

Mike Tramp & The Rock 'n' Roll Circuz
 
Calle: Speaking of your new band, did you handpick all the band members or was someone suggested to you. I mean, besides Søren, you also have Claus Langeskov and Morten Hellborn in the band, and they are/were both in Oliver Weers’ band?

 

Tramp: I would rather say it this way. Claus and I have been playing together for many, many years, and no other bass player were going to be on this album but Claus. And both he and Søren wanted Morten. It has nothing to do with what they had done before. But man, Morten sure was the right thing for this album and for me, I love him.

 

Calle: You are in the middle of your first tour in Denmark. How does it feel to play the smaller venues again, compared to playing the big arenas and stadiums?

 

Tramp: There is n difference for me, i have never looked at it in any other way than where I am playing is where I am playing. I taught myself long ago, not to get comfortable with the big time, because it would only last so long. I am ready to play anywhere any time big or small, I know how to do both, and I sing into the microphone the same way, no matter where I am.

 

Calle: Do you have any plans on touring the rest of the world in support of your new record?

 

Tramp: Yes I do, but it will be when it is the right time to do it.

 

Calle: Of all the songs you have written and recorded in your career, what song are you most proud of and why?

 

Tramp: If spoke of the any of the songs on the new album, it would be like saying the others were less. Everything has a time and a moment, where they are the best and they mean the most. I love the new album and “All Of My Life” is one of my favorite songs. But I also love “The Tree” from Freak of Nature, and “Lady Of The Valley” from White Lion. They are all my children.

 

Calle: I read somewhere that you have had thoughts about doing a whole album where you sing in Danish. Is that true?

 

Tramp: Yes that day will come, but I would think it be a year or two at least.

 

 
Tramp with Bamse and Oliver Weers as guest in Tramp's Allstar choir
 
Calle: I know you wrote a song for Bamse’s new CD and you had Oliver Weers as a guest star in your choir on “Allstars”. What other Danish singers or musicians would you like to work with?

 

Tramp: Wow you’re putting Bamse and Oliver Weirs together? I just take it as it comes and don’t force it. I am not really looking at wanting work with other Danish artist. But I think it will be more a collaboration for the benefit of a good course, when artists get together and I think there will be lots of that, now that I am back in Denmark.

 

Calle: You are one of the few Danish rock musicians who have sold millions of albums around the world. Do you feel you get the respect and credit you deserve?

 

Tramp: Danish people like to mention things like that. But I have never ever come home and said; I sold millions and I have made millions. It is not the way I am. Who gets any respect these days? I am just happy when I play live and I see that the crowd loves the music and the show. And like I had said all along. I do this for me, cause it is who I am, it is my life.

 

Calle: You have experienced a lot in your career. What’s the best advice you can give to new and up-coming bands?

 

Tramp: Don’t set a time limit to how quick you need it to happen before you give up. At the same time, not all musicians and songwriters have to follow the rod I did and make a life time commitment to rock’n’roll. I know many are happy just doing it as a side thing, and I don’t want to spoil that with my advice. So just do what you feel is right and what works for you.
 

And now some questions outside your own music:

 

Calle: What was the first record you ever purchased?

 

Tramp: I think it was Slade in Flame, still today a great album.

 

Calle: What’s your favorite record of all time?

 

Tramp: Queen’s “A night at the opera”, Springsteen’s “Born to run”and Thin Lizzy’s “Jailbreak” 

 

Calle: What do you do when you’re not playing music?

 

Tramp: Since music is my life and career. Then it is always what I am doing, even if it is not physical playing music it has something to do with it. I never have a vacation.

 

Calle: What made you move back to Denmark after all those years in USA, Australia and Indonesia?

 

Tramp: It’s just one of those things that bit by bit wakes up inside you and you feel you have to go back to where you come from. Five years ago I didn’t feel like this, but now I do. On the other hand, there is a big difference in moving back for me than it is for others. I still have family in Australia and Indonesia and I have a lot of friends and connections that means much to me in the USA, so I will not just sit still.

 

Calle: Do you think Denmark has changed in all those years you have been away?

 

Tramp: Yes of course it has, but so has the rest of the world, and so have you and I.

 

Calle: As mentioned earlier in this interview you have lived in many different places. How many languages do you speak?

 

Tramp: I can survive in many places i have lived with broken street language (Spanish, German, and Indonesian). But I wouldn’t get hired as a translator.

 

 
Some of all Tramp's Tattos
 
Calle: As we all can see you have a great tattoo collection. I personally like the portrait of Phil Lynott. Who did that tattoo?

 
Tramp: I had that done in ’92 by Filip Leu, Lausanne, Switzerland.

 

Calle: Do you have any plans on getting your other arm all covered in tattoos?

 

Tramp: Yes the only thing that holds me back. Is what to get and who is going to tattoo me. It is a lot of planning, you don’t just walk into a Tattoo shop and say I want you to do my entire right arm. So we’ll see.

 

Calle: I know you are a fan of Thin Lizzy. What other classic rock bands would you recommend?

 

Tramp:

 

All from the UK:

Queen (up till ‘76)

Rainbow (with Dio)

UFO (one of the greatest)

Bad Company (up til ’76)

 

All from the USA:

Kansas

Journey

Cheap Trick

Foreigner (first 3 albums)

 

Calle: Do you support a football team? If yes, which one?

 

Tramp: Since a child I have always supported Arsenal. When I lived in the states I followed American Football and my team is Dallas Cowboys and in Hockey New York Rangers. For the past 10 years I have been supporting Australian football and my team is St. Kilda.

 

Calle: Do you have any last words for the fans?

 
Tramp: Make up your own mind, don’t listen to others. Only you decide what you like and what you want to listen to.
 
Click on this picture and listen to
Mike Tramp & The Rock 'n' Roll Circus
 
The End
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