Mike Drake

Musician Mike Drake on punchy girls in Paris, touring with Van Halen and the artificial hip, and trying not to sound candy-assed while paying tribute to Kris Kristofferson.

Mike Drake is a member of Oranger, whose music can be heard here:

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Era of birth: In ancient times, early 70’s.

Occupational title(s), both real and desired-in-another-lifetime: Dreamer, lover, vagabond, scallywag, man about town.

Give me the two-sentence rundown on the band, like I’ve never heard of you. We like music. We play music we like.

Oranger is one of those bands where several people take turns doing lead vocals, which isn’t terribly common. How does the decision get made when selecting a front man on a song? We’re still having tryouts. Every show is one show closer to finals.

Favorite books? Don Quixote, Cervantes; Heart of a Dog, Bulgakov; Glass Bead Game, Hesse; Alice in Wonderland, Carroll; So Now You Are a Goalkeeper, Joseph A. Machnik (never read it, but the title’s great); Infinite Jest is a good one for the van.

You guys did a great cover of ‘Casey’s Last Ride’ on the Kris Kristofferson tribute, Don’t Let The Bastards Get You Down, did you pick that song or was it chosen for you? We picked it because it was the tune that best suited our electric sitar. It’s a really beautiful song, and we realized none of us candy-asses could sing and sound as rugged as Kris so we recorded it instrumental.

What makes you laugh? People tripping on mushrooms, people describing their art, myself.

You’ve opened for some of the coolest kids in school on your tours—Guided By Voices, Elliott Smith, REM, Wilco and Pavement—but who would you like to open for you when you’re even bigger stars than you are now? Van Halen with DLR would be cool, but the only way we could follow them is if Eddie’s artificial hip blows out. I think something really anti-stadium could be interesting too, like a singing parrot or a mime troupe.

Tell me about your best and worst moments on the road. Best would be playing Paris and having a girl in the audience punch a guy in the mouth during our set because he was talking too much. Strangest would be hanging out after our show in Ireland, having a conversation with Bono, Peter Buck, and Joe Elliot. There really isn’t a ‘worst’ moment. It’s all pretty horrible. I once started hallucinating when we were driving straight to San Francisco from North Carolina. In hindsight I think it was due to sleep deprivation, but at the time it was scary.

Heroes? People like A.G. Rizzoli, Harry Partch, and Lee Bontecou are inspiring, but I don’t really know them well enough to say they’re ‘heroes.’ Honestly, my friends are pretty amazing in their own ways, which is even more amazing because I know how broken they are in other ways.

Charity worth giving to? Elliott Smith Memorial Fund

Now shamelessly plug your record and upcoming dates. Shutdown the Sun is our newest record. Two CDs, 45 songs, and you can get it for $15, with complimentary jewel case. Go to to load up. We’re playing in Austin for the SXSW festival in March, and then we will be playing around town in San Francisco. We’ll probably do some touring in the summer and fall.

Five words that sound great? Mustache, Rengstorff, Spasm, Periwinkle, Crab-Louie.


TMN Contributing Writer Leslie Harpold was a pioneer in web design and online publishing. At the time of her death in 2006, she lived in Grosse Pointe, Mich., where she was working on a novel and “dreaming alternately of an ├╝ber-urban or ultra-rural future, as she is not one to do things by halves.” More by Leslie Harpold