The Scranton, Pennsylvania based MiZ draws from the coal mining region’s blend of rock, bluegrass and country music to create his own distinct Americana sound. MiZ’s songs help listeners stay afloat through the trials and tribulations of everyday life. The Pop Break had the chance to interview Mike Mizwinski to discover more about his sound, influences, upcoming music and proudest moments as MiZ.
Who is MiZ? (Band member(s) and the instruments you play): For the Wonder Bar show, we are going as a three piece—Jami Novak on drums, Larry Moss on bass guitar and myself on acoustic and electric guitar.
I see that you’re based out of Scranton, PA. What’s the music scene like over there, and how does the coal mining region influence the sound of your music: The music scene in Northeast PA is awesome. My family is full of musicians and I grew up listening to my Dad’s band and several other bands that my Aunts & Uncles play in. I think the band Old Friends is a perfect example of the sound that defines our area. They are a bit of rock, a bit of Bluegrass, and a bit of old school country. Their sound directly influenced a lot of my early writing and playing. Old Friends has been together for well over 40 years and is still going strong. My Aunt Mary and Uncle Paul have been members since the very beginning and I have been lucky enough to sit in with them for most of my life.
From Americana and rock to bluegrass and soul, what genre or sounds do you think shine through in your music the most: I would think that the term Americana would define us best. That’s the music that seems to resonate most with me these days.
What inspires your music and how do you channel such powerful emotions into your songs: Life in general is what inspires me. The ups and downs of everyday living become more understandable through music. Playing my guitar everyday helps me deal with life and helps me to make sense of things that otherwise are hard to deal with. It has helped me to make light out of darkness, positive from negative, sad to happy- from struggle to release. That’s why I keep doing what I do.
How would you describe the style of your lyrics: I can’t help but to write about my own life. My lyrics are personal, sometimes too honest, and hopefully poetic in every man’s terms.
I see that your last recording was Get Your Moo On for MiZ & Till the Cows Come Home in 2015. What was your favorite part about working with them and creating these songs: Ah yes, a great vibe there. That EP was recorded right here in Monmouth County by Steve Jankowski at Jankland Studio. My favorite part of that record is that we had a lot of fun writing and recording. And that’s always good!
What can you tell listeners about upcoming music and shows: We have a lot of exciting shows coming up and I’ll be playing more and more of my new songs at each one. I’m finishing up recording a new album right now and I can’t wait for everyone to hear all these new songs.
It’s awesome that you’ve opened for bands like Blues Traveler! When was that show and how was your experience overall: Yeah that show was a hoot. It was a four-band bill at the Sherman Theater and we got to play right before Blues Traveler. We also had John Kimock drumming (now a member of Mike Gordon Band). My favorite part of that night was hearing John Popper say to the crowd—“lets hear it for MiZ! The holy biz! The royal shiz!”
Along with the amazing achievements of opening for lots of well-known bands and artists, what are you most proud of in terms of your musical career: My proudest moment was playing with Garth Hudson from the Band. I have always been a huge, huge fan of the band and when I released my first record- East Hope Avenue, I sent a copy to Garth. I emailed him back a few weeks later to ask what he thought and if he would like to play the release party and he obliged. Not sure what I enjoyed more, playing onstage with him, or the stories he told me as I gave him a ride back to upstate NY the next day.
What is your favorite part about creating and performing music? What does it all mean to you: I enjoy the spontaneous and improvisational moments of playing live music, that’s what keeps me coming back to play live.
If someone has never heard your music before, what song should they listen to in order to understand what MiZ is all about: I would say “Heels of the Day” off the East Hope Avenue record. It’s a long song but I think it’s my most defining overall.