Mystery Lights frontman Mike Brandon readies to embark on the most important journey of his music career, alone.
Thursday, July 7, 2011
Come July 20, Mystery Lights singer-guitarist Mike Brandon will quit his managerial job at a Prunedale Starbucks and head to New York City for three months. There he’ll master his new solo LP – under the moniker Big Black Eyes – and begin drumming up some publicity.
“This is the biggest risk I’ve ever taken,” Brandon says. “All of the sudden, I’m a solo artist and working harder than I ever have at my music.”
The 21-year-old ball of energy, who’s playing a solo show on Friday at Pierce Ranch Tasting Room as part of the atypical venue’s summer concert series, says the opportunity arose after things with the Mystery Lights began to shift gears.
“I just started writing a lot of stuff on my own,” Brandon says. “It was this bluesy stuff that I wasn’t taking seriously, but the Mystery Lights label loved it and told me that I have to do an album.”
The label ended up renting a house in San Francisco for a month so Brandon could cut the record he finished this January.
“It’s pretty much the folkie, bluesy, darker side of my writing,” he says. “It’s like an acoustic Mystery Lights.”
“Withdrawlin’,” one of his new solo tunes, meanders through darkness with a slinky harmonica blues riff, spaghetti western guitar twang and Brandon’s howls that reverberate in garage rock glory.
“The energy is still there when I play solo, but I do eventually intend on building a band around the music,” Brandon says. “Right now, it’s just me with a tambourine, guitar and harmonica.”
The Salinas native says that even though things aren’t working out with the Mystery Lights right now, he has no regrets.
“This whole solo thing is what I’m focused on now,” he says.
BIG BLACK EYES plays at 8:30pm Friday, July 8, at Pierce Ranch Tasting Room, 499 Wave St., Monterey. Free. 372-8900.