Michael Olivieri has a new album out, the self-titled M.O.B. Michael Olivieri Band. However, hand anyone the CD with the title blacked out, and chances are they would never guess who the artist is. Leatherwolf was one of the hardest rocking bands of the 80’s, but Olivieri’s new work bears no resemblance to those long-gone days. An amalgam of country, blues, roots music and rock; there’s lots of acoustic and pedal steel guitar, as well as harmonica and slide guitar work on the album. Intrigued? Confused? Curious? Read on.
Olivieri says that this is something he’s wanted to do for a long time. “When I left Leatherwolf, I wanted to pursue exactly what I’m doing. Those are my roots–Allman Brothers, Doobie Brothers, Eagles, even John Denver. When I was growing up, I was the youngest of seven, so I had this in-house library of music I was able to listen to. Later on, when I saw what Lenny Kravitz was doing, and the Black Crowes, I thought ‘Yeah, I kind of want to go in that direction.’ But it took a while to develop that. The solo record I put out a couple of years ago, Goodbye Rain, got a little closer to finding myself, but that record was all over the map, direction-wise. When it came to do this record, all the songs came quick…60-75 days. I was putting this band together, and they just had this sound, with the harmonica, the pedal steel…it all just blended right away with the songs I had written.”
Olivieri’s current band has seven members, which is large as bands go. He says that he would like to tour with the full band, but that may not be practical. “A lot of the gigs I might just go out there with an acoustic guitar. You know how expensive it could be to bring seven guys on the road. Ideally, I’d like to bring the full band, but even if it’s just me with my guitar and keyboard touring, I’m going to get out there.” When Oliveiri does go out on the road, the reaction from people will be interesting. As might be expected, “The hard-core metalheads don’t get it. Most of my fan base is 40 and over, and over half of them are women, so I think those fans have grown up musically. I think you’ll find that they’re into country and jazz now. Metal, I find, is almost unidimensional to me. I’m not putting it down–I still do Leatherwolf shows– but I like music that can come down to a hush, as well as getting big.”
“I didn’t really have a goal to write a certain kind of record. Those are just real honest songs that came from a place in my life where I wasn’t censoring anything, and I didn’t have anyone telling me ‘you can’t do this, you can’t do that.’ It is what it is. And, I let the band interpret the material. I wrote all the songs, but the guys had total freedom to to write their own parts. And, aside from a couple of vocal overdubs and solos, we recorded the record live. A lot of what you hear is the magic that was captured. So, if I do have a direction, that’s where I’m coming from–there really isn’t a direction.”
Those SCREAMER readers who live in Southern California are in for a special treat. Mark your calendars for Sunday, February 12 at 6:00 pm. The Michael Olivieri Band will be having a record release party, and you’re invited! The band will be performing the album in its entirety, and, best of all, the price of admission is absolutely nothing–a free show. How often do you get that opportunity? The venue is the Gaslamp Restaurant and Bar, 6251 E. Pacific Coast Highway in Long Beach. See you there.