Im Interview: Mike Schleibaum

Foto von Casandra Marie (casandramarie.com)

HOLY SHIT! Habe ich wirklich schon seit acht langen Monaten nichts mehr veröffentlicht?! Wahnsinn! Langsam aber sicher werde ich Sctys endlich wieder entstauben und präsentiere euch in nächster Zeit das eine oder andere Interview. Klingt ganz gut, oder? Wer ein wenig die Beiträge bei Instagram oder Facebook verfolgt hat, wird sicherlich mitbekommen haben, dass ich im letzten Lockdown an einem kleinen Projekt gesessen habe und ich es auch (bis auf einige Korrekturen hier und da) abgeschlossen habe.

Kurz gesagt ist es tatsächlich ein Buch geworden- inhaltlich dreht es sich um Depression, Ängste, aber natürlich auch um die Band Be Well und ihr Album The Weight and The Cost. Wie ihr merkt: alles andere als leichte Kost. In diesem Buch finden sich auch einige Interviews und ein paar davon möchte ich euch natürlich nicht vorenthalten. Deswegen beginne ich heute mit dem wunderbaren Mike Schleibaum.

Mike Schleibaum- ein Mann, für den das Wörtchen Stillstand definitiv ein Fremdwort ist. Er wirkt wie ein energiegeladener Duracell Hase, den wirklich nie die Luft auszugehen scheint. Es steckt so viel Passion in ihm und in allem, was er macht, dass es direkt und ohne Umschweife ansteckend wirkt. Er bringt Dinge auf den Punkt und geizt dabei nicht mit respektvollen und herzerwärmenden Worten. Seine übersprudelnde Kreativität ist in wirklich jedem einzelnen seiner Projekte zu spüren, ob bei Darkest Hour, Be Well oder bei seinen Katzengemälden, die definitiv schon Kultstatus erreicht haben. Übrigens: ich brauche auch unbedingt eines dieser Bilder an meiner Wand! Mike Schleibaum. Unfassbar talentiert auf so vielen verschiedenen Ebenen und egal, wieviel Erfahrung er hat und wie hoch sein Bekanntheitsgrad auch sein mag- er bleibt nahbar, gechillt und mischt sich gerne unter die Leute. Also mal ehrlich: es gibt nichts, was man nicht an Mike schätzt, oder?

Vor vielen Wochen nahm er sich die Zeit für eine handvoll Fragen und ich könnte nicht glücklicher darüber sein, dass das geklappt hat und er mit im Buch gelandet ist. Ich hätte definitiv noch viel mehr Fragen auf Lager gehabt, aber dann wäre es längenmäßig definitiv viel zu sehr aus dem Ruder gelaufen. Aber wisst ihr was? Wenn Mike mir irgendwann nochmal für ein Interview zusagen sollte, wird es ausführlicher werden, versprochen! Vielen Dank an Mike! Und hier jetzt endlich das Interview. Viel Spaß!

What went through your mind when you had the very first lyrics in front of your eyes, in which Brian brought his deepest inner self to the outside?

Once I had a chance to digest Brian’s lyrics it really highlighted to me the difference between anxiety and depression. Brian’s lyrics and these songs showed me that depression doesn’t always make sense from the outside. That a person can have a successful life but also be haunted by things that make their personal experience really dark. It was hard at first reading these lyrics, when you know who they are about, what they are about. In some ways you know where YOU fit in the story. Brian’s lyrics are so autobiographical that this can have a cutting feeling for those who have lived these experiences along side him. Of course I feel honored to have FELT that part of the story, to TRULY know where he is coming from is a great gift. Especially when you see how it resonates with so many people. I feel so lucky to be on the inside of this special story. If there is ANYTHING people can take away from Brian’s story it is, never give up, never give in, never listen to the outside voices that try to extinguish that inner fire, and lastly, never hide who you are.

How did you assist him in this process? Were there any doubts that you or Brian had?

I have had absolute confidence in Brian since day one. In fact working with him as a producer he has always had the best idea in the room and I really pushed him to get back into writing and doing a “band of his own” rather than helping other bands write so much. When he finally found his stride I was shocked, even with all my confidence I had no idea it would be this good. I see my main roll as to NOT BE IN THE WAY, he is a prolific song writer so I try to be silent, listen, and take in his ideas before I react. I think that some people tend to feel they need to interject their ideas all the time but in this process I do my best to support Brian and give him fertile ground to plant amazing song ideas.

How did it feel for you to be in the studio for the first time with this project?

I loved it, it was actually all I was looking forward to with this band. Making records with Brian has always been some of the most fun I have ever had. We took the approach like any other record 10 – 5 everyday and went hard at it. In the end it was a mixture of fun AND work (like anything great). But I am proud of what we did, it was a lot of fun to record but even more fun to stretch our writing and recording abilities and birth a new band.

What does this band mean to you?

This band is a second chance to me in a lot of ways. I have dedicated my life to the band Darkest Hour, toured the world, written 9 records and once you have done all that it is REALLY hard to reinvent yourself and do anything different. Of course I love making melodic death metal but what I love about BE WELL is that it is something different. I have a strong need to be constantly creating. This can burn out people I am in bands with so Be Well gives me a chance to push that energy somewhere else and also helps find that balance so that I can create in multiple project settings and thus feel like a more complete artist.

How did you experience the first shows?

It was a blur of excitement, I miss it so much. It felt so natural. Brian and I had just returned from a tour of Europe with H20 and we were in “tour mode” for sure. It was seamless how fast we transitioned into being a band that played regionally. We have all known each other for so long and Shane, Peter, and Aaron are old road dog pros too so we were a machine before we even stared.

Have you ever had to deal with depression and/or anxiety/panic attacks yourself?

I do not suffer from depression, but I have started to have a better understanding of what it means through exploring it so much with Be Well. I do however suffer from HEAVY anxiety and while they are different I do know they can play on each other so I must remain self aware.

How would you describe your band mates?

Lets go with members of the A team: 

Peter: – I would go with BA – Peter has the soul of MR. T and it shines in all that he does! 
Aaron: – FaceMan – everybody loves him, he looks good in pictures and he has that high and tight hair cut! 
Brian: – Hannibal – obviously the leader of the pack, with the plan! 
Shane: –  Murdock – Always my favorite – Shane is fun and the heartbeat of the band. If there is anyone of us you want to hang out with, its him lol!

Did you expect The Weight and The Cost to resonate with people so much? What were your expectations before the release?

I did expect everyone to love it, I KNEW that Brian had something important to say and that it would connect with people. I did not know that it would connect with my PAST generation of hardcore / punk friends, family and heroes. I had no idea that it could be such a good link between the culture both he and I grew up in and our future as musicians in such a totally awesome way.

What are you grateful to Brian for?

I have always been grateful to Brian for the heart and soul he put into the Darkest Hour records he produced. When Brian produces your band he injects himself completely into the process in the best possible way. He has done this 3 times for Darkest Hour over the years and each time it takes its toll on our friendship for sure. Those creative trials have made us tighter but I remember being hit with the feeling of total thankfulness one day, like it just hit me, I can’t explain how hard he tries to make each record he touches the best it can be. I will always remember that about him and it’s why I am happy to be in a band with him now, to be able to help reflect that positive energy back at him, it’s really the most rewarding experience you can describe.

Anything else you wanna add?

First let me say thank you, to you, for taking the time to write and spread the word about our band Be Well! We are working on our next release right now and look forward to sharing that with you all soon. It feels like now more than ever we all need new art to enjoy and we definitely still have plenty to say. Lastly, Thank you to the REST OF YOU all for listening!