Over the course of the last two years, the evolution of Mike's Dead has played out through a succession of steady releases. If there was a definitive moment that marked that transformation, there's room to argue that the arrival of his 2021 EP Revenge, was the line in the sand.
Cutting his teeth with a dark, demented brand of hip hop, there was always a nuanced sense of rock and even industrial that accented his production. In 2021 however, Mike threw caution to the wind and found himself exploring new creative terrain with a sound that was more indicative of the complete artist.
Aligning with Hopeless Records in the time since, the actualization of Mike's Dead in its current, most complete form gained an ally - one that would nurture his progress and help to usher in the the next era of young talent's creative coup. Beginning their campaign in 2023, Mike's Dead began to shed his old skin, unveiling a steady succession of singles including his Garbage cover "#1 Crush", the rock-forward "Puppets" and the Frankie Palmeri-assisted "Welcome to Hell".
The rollout of new music signaled that Mike's Dead had found new life. Less experimenting for effect, the full embrace of his rock/industrial lean resonated as authentic and afforded the kind of room for Mike to grow. What seemed even more impressive was the fact that most his core constituency was more than willing to make the stylistic leap with him.
Rebirth marks the first official EP release of the Hopeless Records era. For Mike's Dead, it also begins the second phase of his career - one that has proven more gratifying than ever before. Spending the better part of two years refining his sound, the EP underscores Mike's gravitation towards the heavy and proves dividends for an artist willing to double down on himself artistically.
Mike weighed in on the latest chapter of his story and how this EP is most indicative of the creator he always knew he would be.
You seem to be making a statement by naming this new release, Rebirth. What kind of significance does this project have for you personally and professionally?
In the last few years, I’ve been naturally making heavier and heavier music; experimenting with a lot of new synths, new gear and even pushing my vocal tone in areas that I’m not really accustomed to. This project really embodied this switch and I wanted to lean head first into the change and call it out. It’s no secret that the recent music since 2021 has been different than the original Mike’s Dead music back in 2018. When I was starting out I was just having fun, making hip hop and not really caring what happened; whereas now it’s much more professional. From a professional aspect I think this is a solid body of work that continues to set the benchmark for Mike’s Dead. Personally, it’s an embrace of the newer sound I continue to grow into, and the headspace I’ve been in as I’ve been growing as a person.
Given how broad your range of influences are, do you feel like Rebirth is the most complete version of yourself thus far?
Absolutely. I think with tracks like 'GRIP' and 'Bite Down' that I’m really starting to grow into my own niche. I think I still have a lot of sonic growth to accomplish but this is definitely my favorite and strongest project to date. There’s more unique niche songs, experimental songs, and then straight down the middle bangers for people to enjoy.
Aside from "Welcome To Hell" this EP has no other guest features. You've always been the kind of artist that collaborates well with others... was it intentional to go at this mostly on your own?
I tend to let the songs develop without an aim for completion. It wasn’t necessarily intentional; sometimes I just have more that I want to say. I tend to want features on songs based purely on vocal sonics alone; as a producer I can hear if (for example) Frankie from Emmure would sound sick on this track, or “oh wow we need to send this to Corey Taylor”. I mainly listen to vocal tone when it comes to features and I think most of these EP songs seemed so ME that it was easier to do them myself.
Your Revenge EP seemed to signal the full embrace of your rock sensibilities. Would you say that Rebirth is has allowed you to really refine that side of Mike's Dead?
Absolutely. The Revenge EP was released fall of 2021 and here we are following it up 2 years later. I took most of 2022 to refine the songs and spent most of the year being a studio rat. Revenge was a good starting point, really starting to play with the industrial side of things, whereas Rebirth feels like I’ve grown into my own a bit more.
Be it trap or industrial or hard rock... what has been the common thread that weaves it all together for you?
Every song you hear is Mike’s Dead. Hell, I could release a pop song and it would be Mike’s Dead. I think it’s important to think outside of the box when it comes to music nowadays and avoid that formulaic garbage that majority of the industry puts out. From the production to the vocal tone, I think that I’m continuing to create a sonic brand that people hear and respect.
Your fanbase has not only followed you as you have evolved but it has grown considerably. Not many artists can be creatively bold without alienating their core and yet you have. What is unique about your relationship with the fans that they are totally down to go along for the ride, so long as you are driving?
I think it’s important to do what YOU want to do as an artist. I make music for me. I’ll always make music for me. I think my adapting a heavier sound I’ve definitely alienated part of my old fanbase… but hey man, thats how it works.
It seems like most of the fans are cool with me experimenting and growing into my own sound. There’s still elements of the original underground hip hop sound, but now it’s on steroids. Inevitably, artists grow as people and with that comes a change of sound, so I just hope people can see this as personal growth - rather than changing my sound.
You have album release events that have aligned with major festivals line Louder Than Life and Sonic Temple. What kind of confidence does that give you knowing that major banners like that are co-signing for Mike's Dead?
I think its a cool sign. Both of those brands have been more than supportive getting involved with the EP release shows and its a really cool look that not a lot of artists get. It feels really good knowing that one of the biggest festival brands in the world believes in me becoming one of the future headliners of their shows.
What are the important takeaways you hope people find in Rebirth? What are the personal metrics that would make this EP success?
I hope people find a song and run with it. Each song is so unique in its own aspect that you can find one, or many, of your new favorite songs on the project. Personally, I hope people can see the message a bit, and realize you can always revamp yourself. It’s always ok to upgrade and grow out of your old skin. As far as a personal metric of success, I really hope of the songs on this project TRULY connects to the public. We’ve already been getting great radio play with Bite Down and I’ve got this funky feeling that something cool could happen and that song could take off.
Rebirth is currently available via Hopeless Records - HERE
Mike's Dead will host a pair of Rebirth release shows in both Louisville and Columbus later this month. The shows are presented by festival brands Louder Than Life and Sonic Temple respectively. Tickets can be purchased - HERE