PLAYBACK Magazine Feature: Mike Errico

PLAYBACK Magazine Feature: Mike Errico

Although his excellent new album is called Wander Away, Mike Errico is focused on his fans and his future.

By Harris Decker

In an era when texting, tweeting, talking and walking happens all at once, no artist multitasks better than New York City-based singer-songwriter Mike Errico. Errico built his career not just in music but across a spectrum of media. He recently released the sixth album, Wander Away, a mark of his ability to change with the times and keep things moving.

Errico has become known in the industry as a reliable creator of great music, and of projects large and small. He attributes his reputation to his albums, which he puts out consistently. But like many artists today, Errico spent time in other fields before becoming a full-time musician.

While running the website of Blender magazine, he interviewed and learned from some of rock and roll’s biggest names. “I drank a bottle of Jack Daniels with David Lee Roth and had a fantastic conversation about feminism with Gene Simmons,” he said. After leaving Blender, he had a short stint at a failed music downloading startup. This might have shaken some, but for Mike it was perfect timing. “It went under just in time for me to release my next record and go on the road,” he said.

Touring is a way of making a living for Errico, who travels with Rusted Root and Soulive. But he puts just as much effort into his other projects, which include theme songs for former VH1 shows like Pop Up Video, as well as current shows like American Pickers and The Voice.

Errico draws inspiration from a number of places. Ani DiFranco influenced him early on, making him see that music and storytelling can be one and the same. And where DiFranco influenced his early career, Tom Waits continues to influence him. Errico, who loves Waits’ ability to span so many walks of pop culture, said “there’s no one like him and he’s done it all. I would love to do that.” Wander Away even features a cover of Waits’ song, “Johnsburg, Illinois.”

Being the forward-thinking musician that Errico is, the picture wouldn’t be complete without some very modern broadcasting techniques. While radio and live shows are great, his new podcast allows him to connect with his fans and share personal stories. Errico is currently interviewing all of the crew members that worked on his latest album.

But Errico has also learned not to dwell on certain projects. He said that he’s at his best when he works on a project and moves on. “They either take it, or they don’t take it, or they ask for changes and then you just repeat the project,” Errico said. “You do the best job you can and then forget about it. One needs an open mind and a hard heart in this business. There’s so much rejection it’s ridiculous.” The most important thing, he said, is for him to trust his instincts and do what feels right.

Though he can’t speak publicly about some of his upcoming projects, he did discuss one: a movie project with Anne Heche that will feature his song “Daylight.” And even radio stations are starting to board the Mike Errico train. Songs from his new album like “Count To Ten” and “Ready Or Not” are already gaining steam.

Errico said he used to hide his many skills, but in this fast-paced age that’s no longer necessary. “I just feel like there’s no longer any reason to do that and if people don’t understand me, it’s no fault of mine.” With plenty more on the horizon for Errico, it seems as if this musical multitasker is poised for big things in the years to come. Keep an open ear. You might just hear his smooth voice the next time you turn on your television.

(source: PLAYBACK Magazine, Spring/Summer 2011)