This is an interview with Mike from Mandroid Echostar. We met these dudes, and instantly became friends, not only because they are all incredibly good looking men, and I secretly wanted to play with Mike’s hair all night, but also because they are the nicest dudes, and a killer band. I’ve been absolutely blown away by about ten bands in my entire life, and these guys are one of them. If you know me, or follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you will see me talking a bout these guys all the time. I could write about them forever….but I won’t. Here’s Mike:
1- Let’s begin with basics, who are you, and what is your role in Mandroid Echostar?
-I am Michael Ciccia and I am the vocalist of Mandroid Echostar
2- Who are the rest of the folks in your band?
-We have the Richards brothers, Steve who plays guitar and Adam who plays bass. Sam Pattison who plays guitar, James Krul who plays guitar and keyboards and Matt H-K who plays the drums. We have far too many people in this band hahaha.
3- How did Mandroid come together as a band?
-Oh, well that is a long story, but I will try and give you the Coles Notes of it from what I remember. Being the last member to join I got my facts secondhand. Matt’s band (The Karma Cure) had broken up and he was trying out for another band that Sam happened to be filling in on guitar for. Adam was a good friend of Matt’s and was driving him to the tryouts and just hanging out. The three of them really hit it off and decided that they were just going to form their own band and start writing. Over the next year or so they recruited Adams older brother Steve who was also a former member of The Karma Cure to play guitar on their new venture. Time went on and they tried out a few screamers and they just did not pan out. That is when they called up James who was fresh off a years travel in New Zealand to try out on vocals and play 3rd guitar and keys. James then realized he was not the best fit to be the lead vocalist of the band but stayed on to be the ever so important auxiliary man in the band. I happen to be jamming in a cover band with Sam at the time and one night he asked me if I wanted to tryout for Mandroid. I was scared shitless, but I did it anyway and I couldn’t be happier. I am sure I messed up some details or forgot something really important, but thats close I think.
4- Can you explain the origin of your band name? I’m actually really surprised I haven’t asked you this before.
-Well… essentially the band name has been set in stone since adam was about 14 years old. When he was in highschool him and his friends went on some interesting adventures (so I am told) and they wanted to write about it. But they did not want to use their real names so they made up aliases. A friend of Adam’s came up with Mandroid Echostar and Adam fell in love with it and asked him if he could use it as a band name. When the time came to name this band there was really no discussion about it. Being sci-fi nerds (as most of the band is) it just fit. It is serious but still kind of funny, which essentially captures the essence of this band. I will also note that I was not in the band when they named it, if I was I would have probably fought for some cheesy emo name that no one would like. I am glad they went with Mandroid.
5-Up to this point in your career, what has been the most satisfying show you have played? You guys have only played two up to this point, and I’ve been at both and you destroyed both, so actually let me rephrase this question. How did you feel when your first hometown show was sold out?
-Well thank you sir, you are too kind. Playing to a sold out crowd when you are playing in your hometown is an incredible feeling. We were not expecting that at all. Pre-sale tickets were sold out days before the show and the 50 tickets at the door were sold out in 10 minutes. It was insane!!! That brought up the pressure meter for sure. But once we hit that stage and people were going crazy and singing every word to our songs, words can’t even describe that feeling. It was the greatest show I have ever played with any band. And seeing your handsome face when I looked out into the crowd made it that much better!
6- Every band has it struggles, has their ever been a point where you/the band were ready to ‘throw in the towel’, or you felt you couldn’t handle it anymore?
-As a band I really don’t think there has ever been a time where we wanted to pack it in. We all feel so passionate about what we are doing and love it so deeply that it is not even an option. Me personally though, when I first joined the band I got really overwhelmed and didn’t think I could hold my own in this band and I was ready to quit. Then one night I watched “Beyond the Lighted Stage” the RUSH documentary and my eyes were opened and I knew I had to do this. I still don’t know what exactly clicked that night, but I am very glad it did.
7- If you could pick one song out of your catalogue, which would be the one your are most proud of? Lyrically, musically or other.
-That is a tough call because I really love all of our songs. I know it is super cliche, but I don’t give a shit! hahaha If I had to choose one though I would pick “The Precursor” simply for the fact that it is the song I had the most creative input with from the EP. It was the first song that we all wrote as a collective and it gave us a good understanding of what we are all capable of. It gets me excited for future writing sessions.
8- You guys run some intense gear, which is a bit different than a lot of bands. Has there been any issues with the way you guys set up?
-With the amount of gear and the gear we run there is a lot of things that can go wrong. It makes me nervous every time we set up. Our first show was basically a dress rehearsal for us to see how fast and efficient we could set everything up. We had a few issues with in-ear monitors not being loud enough and Matt losing the click track. He also lost a beater from his kick pedal mid song and had to go searching for a screw on his hands and knees in the dark and I had no idea. So when I looked back I couldn’t see anyone at the kit and I kind of panicked a little bit. But he popped back up, we powered through and the rest of the set went great.
9- The scene is incredibly tight knit, what bands do you go for advice or feedback?
-We are incredibly lucky to be surrounded by great bands that have been touring for years and know the industry a hell of a lot better then we do. We are very good friends with the guys from Farewell to Freeway and Wakeless (ex-Arise and Ruin) and they are all extremely helpful with any questions we have (which is all the time). We all jam in the same building and we are all like a little music family. They are all amazing dudes and we are super lucky to have them as friends.
10- Your first e.p., which is self titled is obviously somewhat of an concept. Can you explain a bit of the story behind it?
-The concept is Matt’s brainchild and I don’t think I would do it proper justice if I explained it so I made him answer this question for me. Here it is: “The Ep’s story is kind of a speculative fiction about the past, present and future of earth and humanity. It’s a metaphorical take on where we are from and where we are headed as a species. We wanted to present our story in a vague way so that people can take their own ideas and messages from the lyrics, making the concept a little different and personal for everyone.” -Matt H-K
11- Your songs are incredibly complex. How do they come together?
-When I first joined the band they had 11 or 12 songs already written and roughly recorded. The songs were definitely a lot heavier before I joined because they were writing with the intentions of having a screamer front the band as opposed to clean vocals. After many band practices and long nights of trying to find the right vocal melodies to go over the existing tracks we decided to change up the songs and make them more vocal friendly. We essentially went through and gave some of the songs a facelift. Adding parts, extending parts, getting rid of parts entirely. We made all of our influences and styles blend together as opposed to trying to force them into each other. Now that we are writing more as a band, the guys will bring in riffs or full songs and we will sit around, jam them out and pick them apart until each and every one of us loves what we are playing. It is a long process, but we know that everyone will be proud to perform and record every song we write.
12- You guys kind of came together as a band over almost 2 years. What was the dynamic when you joined, as the last member of the band.
-When I joined I was the 3rd or 4th singer to give vocals a try for the band. I feel like they were really frustrated with vocals at the time because they had these amazing songs and all the talent in the world but they were being held back because they were lacking a frontman. They were just eager to get their music out there and play, but they also didn’t want to just settle on anyone who walked through the door. If you heard what the band sounded like before I joined you would notice quite a bit of change in the style of music. There are some parts that have not changed at all and other parts that have turned a huge 180. We still took a while for our EP to come out, but to us it was worth it.
13- Growing up, I think every musician, myself included, had that one band that they wanted to be. What was yours?
-There are so many bands that I would have loved to be in. I just love so many genres of music that I want to sing it all. But since I have to pick, to be brutally honest I would have loved to be in any hair metal band from the 80’s. I love that shit! I know it may not be the greatest music in the world, but those guys looked like they were having a blast and not giving a shit. Anytime it is socially acceptable for me to wear a catsuit and use extra hairspray I am in! Either that or Boyz II Men. I would love to sing some sweet, sweet love songs and hand out roses to pretty girls.
14- How do your lyrics come together, is it a collaboration between you and other members?
-Actually our drummer Matt writes almost all of our lyrics. When I joined the band and talked about writing styles, I warned them right off the bat that I write lyrics about girls, breakups and cheesy shit. Not really what they were going for apparently hahaha. Matt is amazing with lyrics and has an incredible mind with that kind of thing so we let him take the reigns on that one. James and I put our 2 cents in for some lyrics and I think on the full length there will be a lot more of a collaboration. James is another amazing wordsmith, so I am very excited to see what we can all come up with.
15- Merchandising is really big in music, you obviously have to have cool things that kids want to buy. If you could have one piece of ”dream merch” that you think kids would be into buying with your name on it, what would it be?
-I think my ultimate goal would be to have our own guitar line. It would be amazing to have a guitar with our name on it with some crazy colours and extremely detailed inlays (I love fancy inlays). I don’t know if that is something we could have on our merch table though. I would also like a letterman Jacket with Mandroid on it. I just think they look badass, and when you got embroidered jackets with your band name on it you know you are legit.
16- Every band has their favourite place for pre/post show eats. What restaraunt do you guys stop at the most eats?
-We are all extreme lovers of food. James and I can actually sit on the couch in our jam hall and talk about food for hours and hours. It is actually quite sad. But seeing how we are extremely broke, we tend to eat pizza all the time. Pizza is quite possibly the greatest food ever created. You can never go wrong. So before a show you will likely see us eating a bunch of Hot and Readys from Little Caesars because they are cheap as hell and delicious. If we are feeling extra fancy we may even get some crazy bread. Extra marinara sauce!
17- Being in a band, I know this feeling. If there was one person in your band who you could take in a wrestling ring for 5 minutes to blow off some steam, who would it be?
-That is really an unfair question. Everybody in the band is about 110 pounds soaking wet and I am just so much bigger then all of them. It would just be unfair to fight any of them. We also just love each other too much to fight. We just yell at each other a lot. Thats how we solve our problems.
18- Bands often have a lot of free time pre show. You load in, then have nothing to do for 3 or 4 hours until you play. How do you guys occupy your time?
-We have only played a couple of shows, so we haven’t really done anything exciting. We usually just grab something to eat, set up our merch, try and get our gear as close to stage ready as we can and just sit around and have plenty of useless and absolutely ridiculous conversations with each other. We also like to hangout and chat with all of the other bands playing that night. You can make some pretty awesome new friends that way! (*wink wink* I am talking about you Mr. Aaron Barry)
19- Most bands have a family dynamic. In Mandroid, who’s the dad, mom, etc.
-Since I am the oldest in the band I definitely take on the dad role. I am a bit of a control freak and I like to oversee everything that is going on with the band. I handle the money and most of the business activities. I also take care of the media stuff with my sidekick and mother figure Matt H-K. We share a lot of the duties in the band him and I, but we like it that way. Sam, James, Steve and Adam are definitely the kids! Adam and Steve are brothers in real life so they get at each others throats sometimes and James has been friends with both of them forever so they all get into it sometimes. And Sam, well Sam is the most easy going laid back dude I have ever met. He is kind of like the chilled out older brother. Mandroid is very much like a family and it is awesome to be a part of something like that.
20- If you described your band dynamic as a sitcom group (Friends, Big Bang Theory, Seinfeld etc) who would it be?
-I would say we are a mix between Seinfeld and The Big Bang Theory (James will be pissed I said that because we had an hour long discussion about how much he hates The Big Bang Theory Last night). The reason is that we are a bunch of geeks that talk about a lot of nerdy things and look up weird facts and just discuss strange things. We get pretty deep sometimes. But there are also other times, many other times, that we talk abut random, useless, everyday mundane things for hours on end for no good reason, like Seinfeld. If nothing else we can entertain the shit out of each other on a daily basis.
These guys are no bullshit.