Mike Chick (Yawn Mower) is thrilled to announce the completion of his upcoming third solo LP, More Thrills, Less Hills, a collection of eight songs that originated from unfinished demos from other musical projects. Collaborating with Bill Bourke during the pandemic, they transformed these demos into a diverse mixtape of indie rock and country, featuring contributions from various talented artists. The album, set to release on 02/09/24 via Mint 400 Records, showcases the culmination of years of effort, with Mike handling songwriting and demos, Bill recording drums and guitar, and a team of skilled individuals adding their magic. Engineered by a team including Mike, Bill, and Rudy Meier, the LP was recorded at Bill’s Basement, Waving Cat, and other locations. The first single, "Deep Moat," accompanied by a video shot and edited by Biff Swenson, will be available on streaming services from 01/05/24. Mike expresses satisfaction in bringing the songs together and hints at exciting releases to come in 2024 from other Mint 400 Records artists.
1. How did the band form and what does the band name mean?
Mike Chick is a name I have used over the years for my solo material that is a shortened version of my legal name. More Thrills, Less Hills (MTLH) is my third LP of songs, following 2022's I Don't Write Love Songs and 2012's Hello, Mountain.
2. Previous musical projects? How'd you first get into music?
I've been into music my entire life. My parents were into music, but didn't play, so I was exposed to all of their music growing up. Groups like The Who, The Beatles, Sly and the Family Stone. I developed my own musical tastes from there. I currently sing and play baritone for Yawn Mower, who also release music on Mint 400 Records.
3. First concert that you ever went to?
The first concerts that really blew my mind were at Maxwell's in Hoboken, NJ. That was the first place where I was like "holy sh*t, the band is going to play RIGHT THERE in front of me?" Then the band has to walk through the crowd to get to the stage. Unreal. I was eating dinner there once and three tables down from me was Mike Watt and Thurston Moore eating dinner. Another time I watched Yo La Tengo and Mudhoney converse by the bar. It was a magical place.
4. What's your writing process like?
I'm always compiling riffs and vocal lines. I write everything down. I might not use the idea for a while, but at least it is document. I don’t want to lose anything.
For MTLH, I had some unfinished demos from a previous band that every few years I would revisit. Finally, during the pandemic, I finished those songs and passed them on to Bill Bourke, who was in that band, and he recorded drums and my main guitars. Then I took the tracks and learned how to use a DAW to record more of the record.
More Thrills, Less Hills has a bunch of guest spots on it. I enjoy working with other people on my records. They are like the seasoning to the meal we cooked. MTLH includes contributions from Emily Bornemann, Richie Brown, Chris Colon, Michael Depko, Pamela Flores, Ryan Gregg, Rachel Hock, Mike Noordsy, Lou Panico, Nicole Scorsone, El Valerie and Gary Zampini. Thanks all for being on the record.
The recording process was fun with these folks, they'd either come to Waving Cat and we'd run through the songs or they would record it on their own and send it to me. With Sticks and Stones, I had a pedal steel solo running through my head and knew Chris Colon had a lap steel, so he came by and I would sing the ideas in my head and he would replicate it on the lap steel. When I hear that solo, I feel like I wrote it in a past life, like it's been around for a long time. Same thing with Ryan Gregg, he played keys on Dang Cold and Kicking Out. I don't play the keys well enough to execute what I wanted for those songs, and Ryan did just that. "I am a musical interpreter", he said. Damn straight you are.
Big shout out to Rudy Meier, who mixed the record and engineered some sessions. We have worked together on a bunch of recordings at this point and I always enjoy bouncing ideas back and forth with him. The guy is super talented at what he does and is easy to work with. Also shout out to Bill Bourke, who stayed involved with the process of making this album and heard me say “it’s 80% done” several times over three years.
5. What other artists or songs inspire your music?
I think the bands and artists on this playlist speak for themselves. Their music in general was influential in the making of MTLH.
6. What's the live experience like and your philosophy on playing live? Do you think the music live should be identical to the recorded version or should it be it's own thing?
I haven't played these songs yet with a band, but I think if a song needs to morph from what it is on record to a different thing live, then do it. See what happens. Sometimes a song takes a long time to fully flesh out. If it doesn't work, go back to the original. Always be open to try different things with your music.
7. Has the band toured? What has the touring experience been, best shows? Worst shows?
I haven't toured with a band that plays Mike Chick songs, but Yawn Mower has been doing the most touring since we started the band these past two years and it has been mostly great. We've been to California, New England, the Midwest. The best shows are when the bands are good, people are cool, merch gets sold and the venue gives you comped food/drink and some money. There are "worst" shows for sure, but you have to see the humor or silver lining in those things or else you'll just give up. Use those experiences for future song writing material. And always use your tuner pedal.
8. What's up next for the band?
I might assemble a band to play these songs. I have a bunch of solo material at this point and think it would be fun to play these and other songs live. We'll see how it goes. Until then, enjoy More Thrills, Less Hills. I'm glad it exists.