One of the questions that transplanted Missouri singer/songwriter Michael Apinyakul didn’t get around to answering in my interview with him was this one: If you could collect on one karmic debt this month, who would be coughing up?
Last winter, you see, I almost blasted him right off his bike with a snowball. I totally thought he saw me winding up and would take evasive action—but he didn’t—and the snowball ended up missing his head by less than two feet. He noticed the hell out of it when that happened.
That’s how close I came to breaking poor Mike’s face—it was one of those super-dense wet snowballs, too—and I felt pretty rotten about it. As if to torment me, he insisted on being as damnably beatific and cool about it afterwards as he could possibly be. It got pretty Dostoyevskian for me for awhile, there, but I finally got the soft-spoken singer to threaten some revenge (albeit in the past perfect conditional tense) when I caught up with him earlier this week.
I almost creamed you with a snowball last winter! Two feet to the right and I would have landed it right on your nose, possibly changing both of our lives (and certainly changing our relationship) forever. I actually swung around the block to try and flank you, but you made a narrow escape into the Independent offices. If that snowball would have hit me in the noodle, there would have been hell to pay. I’d probably have dedicated a portion of my career to making scandalous albums about you. You’d have heard songs like “Andy’s New Rash” and “Smetanka’s Adventures in Prison.”
What makes a guy from Columbia, Mo., pull up stakes and relocate to Missoula? And are you living the dream? How I ended up in Missoula is purely a matter of chance and gravity. This place just has pull. I was also poor at the time and one can be poor in Missoula and still live like a king. Am I living the dream? Well, I started eating granola in Missoula and I’ve been regular ever since.
What’s something Missoula could learn from Columbia, and vice versa? Musically, Columbia folkies are quicker to support each other’s music. When I was there we all booked venues together, recorded albums together, and it was great. We pushed each other’s songwriting, which made us more original. The music was good. For me, the most beneficial thing about Missoula has been playing Jay’s Upstairs. They’re not afraid to pair me up with louder punk bands and I love it. It pushed me to put the acoustic guitar to the sonic test. I think we’re all a little tired of the same old sleepy folk music. Missoula has definitely lit a fire under my ass to push the sound.
It’s been said that all of life’s wisdom can be reduced to anagrams. Some anagrams for “Michael Apinyakul” include: YAMAHA LICK LINEUP, HIMALAYA LICE PUNK, ICKY LAME PAIN HAUL, PEAKY CHILI MANUAL, and I LIKE A CLAY HAM PUN. So is there truth in any of these? Himalaya Lice Punk was actually my birth name before I changed it to the more accessible Michael Apinyakul. I also enjoy a good ham clay pun.
Would you rather have, in performance situations, a third arm or an extra mouth? I would rather have a third arm, but I’d like for it to come out of my back. I’d prefer to be tactful with it, like by softly playing a tambourine or something. I’ve always thought it wise that a three-armed man not draw any more attention to himself than he has to.
Quick, picture an imaginary someone at an ideal show of yours. What do they look like? What are some of their other characteristics? Why do they like your music? It would probably be a sassy, dark-haired woman with genetically enhanced ears so she could hear every nuance of my playing. This may require her ears to be larger than normal, but that’s all right. I’m a pretty open-minded guy. If she can deal with my third arm, I can deal with the satellite dishes coming out the sides of her head.
How do you know when it’s been a good show? Nothing moves me more than an audience that really listens. That’s a genuine and beautiful thing. It’s also really important that the lyrics come across. I work really hard to make my music as much an exploration of language as it is of sound. On my end, it’s very important that I surprise myself at each show, which is a difficult standard to live up to. I give myself the risky freedom of taking a song wherever I feel it should go. With this freedom I have the responsibility to not bore people to tears. It’s easy to confuse improvisation with indulgence, but I do my best to be unselfish when I play. Put that all together and you’ve got a good show.
Mike Apinyakul, advice for today’s teens: Your allowance would best be spent purchasing my album. Your friends will weep with envy.
Mike Apinyakul, first thing to say if abducted by aliens: “What kind of gas mileage does this thing get?”
Mike Apinyakul, 2007 AD: I’d be 31 by then and well on my way to starting a family with the girl with genetically enhanced ears. Our children would be evolution’s gift to music.
Michael Apinyakul is working on a new album due out this summer. He’s also playing the InnerRoads benefit show at Marshall Mountain this Saturday at 5 PM. Tickets are $6 (which includes a barbecue dinner), available at Rockin Rudy’s and the UC Box Office. Call 370-3660 for more information.
A clip ‘n’ save guide to this summer’s Out to Lunch series
By THE CALENDAR KID
Yes, it’s the article you’ve been waiting on tenterhooks for all year: the Independent clip ’n’ save schedule of musical artists—as described in their own words—who are slated to play Out to Lunch, 11:30 AM every Wednesday through the end of August in Caras Park. “Captivating,” says Entertainment Weekly, “A real triumph of list-making!”; “I loved every second of this schedule,” raves a writer for the New York Post, etc., etc. The fun starts this Wednesday. See you there!
June 6 Amy Martin Band (folk rock originals) and John Floridis (bluesy folk-rock).
June 13 Jack Gladstone contemporary Native American folk) and Long Overdue (three-part vocals; mandolin, guitar, fiddle and bass; contemporary and traditional).
June 20 Watercarvers Guild (new acoustic/new folk fathers and sons trio) and Code of the West (R&B/country rock swing/good ol’ rock and roll).
June 27 Eden Atwood and the Last Best Band (jazz, R&B and soul) and the Ed Norton Big Band (big band swing).
July 4 Remington Ride (five-piece band playing current country, ‘50s and ’60s rock and roll) and Bob Wire and the Fencemenders (honky-tonk).
July 11 Zoe Wood (solo jazz, blues, folk, rock, vocals and guitar original music and comedy) and Ben Stevens (Blues, slide guitar, American stories).
July 18 Jenn Adams (award-winning songwriter performs eclectic mix of blues, jazz, folk) and SwizzleGrit (honky-tonk blues).
July 25 Critical Martini (1940s revamped jump blues) and Florence’s Groove & Blues Review (classical jazz standards of the past and present).
August 1 Rank Strangers (bluegrass) and the Reeltime Travelers (Appalachian old-time music with a mix of Americana).
August 8 Erik “Fingers” Ray (authentic one-man band; variety music for all ages) and Swifty Morgan (jammin’ country).
August 15 Cocinando (Afro-Cuban Latin jazz) and the Moonlighters (R&B).
August 22 Mike and Tari Conroy (bluegrass old-time duet) and Jam Forum (rock and roll with Latin, progressive, blues, funk and jazz elements).
August 29 David Jacobs-Strain (solo guitar and vocals/acoustic country blues/17-year-old performer) and Smoke (variety, rock, country, Top 40 and ’50s).