Michael Olivieri

Written by on March 10, 2011 in Interviews, March 10, 2011 - Comments Off on Michael Olivieri

Michael OlivieriMichael Olivieri was born and raised in Huntington Beach, the youngest of 7 kids in a musical family. His two older brothers both sang and played guitar. Michael being left-handed, was at a little bit of a disadvantage because he really wanted to play but the only guitars that were lying around were for righties. He had to force himself to play right handed. Both brothers were very patient teaching him to play. They would spend hours jamming, singing and working out three part harmonies, fascinating Michael with the whole concept of harmony and how it worked. He was usually assigned the highest vocal part, giving him a great foundation for a singer. His oldest sister would sit down at the piano with him while he watched her play. She taught him what the notes were and he would take it from there. It wasn’t until many years later that he would learn to read music, developing a good ear for learning songs on his own and finding his way around the keys. It was in the seventh grade talent show when he and some of his closest friends played “Stairway to Heaven” that he got his first taste of live “ROCK”. The light went on! He had to get an electric guitar.

It was those early times in his life that were the basis for his passion for music.

In his friend’s garage the sound of LEATHERWOLF was formed; with three shredding guitarists, they took guitar harmonies to a new level. His early days were now playing a big part in developing intricate harmonies… Formed in the early 80’s, Leatherwolf emerged on the Southern California scene despite the band members’ young ages. Sharing bills with fellow OC metal acts such as Metallica, Witch, and Slayer at venues like the Woodstock and Radio City, Leatherwolf quickly caught the attention of Enigma Records affiliated indie label Tropical Records who financed the band’s eponymous 1984 5-song EP produced by Randy Burns (who would go on to work with the likes of Megadeth, Helstar, and Kreator). Influenced by European heavy metal in general and Iron Maiden in particular, Leatherwolf’s musical sophistication earned them high praise and led to the EP being extended to a full-length album and licensed in Europe. Germany’s Steamhammer/SPV released the album in 1985, titled Leatherwolf, while Heavy Metal America, who had the rights for Great Britain, issued it as Endangered Species, so named after one of the songs on the album. By this time Michael started playing the Hollywood scene, building up a huge following

Michael OlivieriMichael’s blend of rock/country/soul can be found on his first recently-released debut solo album, “GOODBYE RAIN”. His passion for playing multiple instruments stands out on this modern take on classic rock! Olivieri states, “I felt I needed to get back to the roots of where I came from musically. ‘Goodbye Rain’ is musically what I’m really all about.”

Interview by Debra Stocker

All Access Magazine (AAM) When did you first get started in playing music?MO: I started playing music at the age of 8. It was a drum set and I was playing along to partridge family albums, I didn’t really know what I was doing, but in my mind I was playing music

AAM: Who taught you how to sing, and who would you say were your earliest musical influences?

MO: Nobody really “TAUGHT” me how to sing…..I was fortunate enough to be raised in a very musical family, with 2 older brothers that both sang and played guitar. We would spend hours and hours singing 3 part harmonies to CSN&Y, Eagles, John Denver etc, Later on in life when I started taking singing seriously, I took some lessons from a few different people. The only instructor that ever really helped me was a lady named Elizabeth Sabine.

AAM: How did you come to form the band Leatherwolf?

MO: Back in high school, I had guitar class. Another kid in the class, GEAOFF GAYER, was playing JUDAS PRIEST songs from across the room. I thought I was the only kid in school that knew who Priest was, so I went over to him introduced myself and we hit it off. Turns out he knew all Glenns parts, and I knew all K.K.’s parts. And we started playing backyard parties around town and it came to be Leatherwolf

Michael OlivieriAAM: What are some of the defining moments you recall about being in Leatherwolf?

MO: Moving into a band house, in Van Nuys, Cal. in 1986. We decided it was time to take ourselves seriously and take the next step and build the following in LA that we had in O.C.

Also, getting a record deal with Island records and being able to make 2 records at Compass Point Studios in the Bahamas. Touring Europe is ALWAYS a highlight in my career.

AAM: Touring as you did, what are some of the major differences you discovered between the music scene in L.A. and elsewhere?

IMO: I don’t think there is too much of a difference anymore. Anywhere you go, people want to play music. There’s always gonna be the kid next door who is a “Rock Star” on Friday and Saturday night.

AAM: When did you decide to go solo and form the Michael Olivieri Band (M.O.B.)?

MO: I decided to go solo around 1992. It just took me 15 years to figure out what that meant and what do I do with that. I just got into songwriting without any outside opinions, just to find out what i wanted to do and who I really was as a songwriter. Or to find out if I could really write songs at ALL… In 2005 I Built a recording studio and started tracking what would become “GOODBYE RAIN”

I played most of the tracks myself with the exception of DAVE GOODE on drums and K.K. MARTIN on some guitar and Pedal Steel. So when it came time to do shows I had to put together a top-notch band.

AAM: Who are some of the members of the M.O.B. that Social music fans will recognize?

Michael OlivieriMO: The “M.O.B.” now consists of, K.K. MARTIN on guitar and pedal steel, BUZZY JAMES on Guitar, TOM CROUCIER on bass and vocals, DAN LUCETT on keys and vocals, ERIC VON HERZAN on harmonica, and PAUL WILSON on drums and vocals

AAM: You’re currently in studio recording the follow-up to your solo debut, goodbye rain. How is that going?

MO: We are wrapping up pre-production on March 15th then start tracking the record on March 21st. It’s going to be a very real sounding record. Multi-tracking a 7 piece band with minimal over dubs. I’m trying to capture a “REAL” vibe. Much like the music I grew up with that made me want to play music in the first place.

AAM: Are there any surprises that people can expect to hear at your March 18 show at The Galaxy, which you’re headlining?

MO: Well if I told you then they wouldn’t be surprises… would they? I will say that we will be playing some cuts off the new upcoming record!

AAM: Is there anything about yourself that few people, if anyone, else knows, that you would care to share with our readers?

MO: I can still throw an 85 MPH fastball and strike most guys out half my age!

Upcoming shows

The Michael Olivieri Band will perform live at the Galaxy Concert Theater in Santa Ana on Friday, March 18. Also appearing: Kerry Getz and LeReverie

The Galaxy Theater
3503 S Harbor Blvd
Santa Ana, Ca