Members: Alan Hanczyc, bass; A.J. Jump, drums; Mike Mizwinski, guitar and vocals
Who we talked to: Mizwinski, 26
How did you get into music? I was born in Scranton, and my father is probably one of the best guitar players I've ever met. I was hanging out with him at band practice since I was 2 years old. My aunt and uncle also play in a really popular band up there called Old Friends. Pretty much my whole family (are) . . . musicians. I learned my first song when I was 6 or 7.
Do you remember what that song was? It was probably a blues song. I think it was "Before You Accuse Me" by Eric Clapton. I'm sure I didn't play it that well. My dad taught me (Led Zeppelin songs "Stairway to Heaven" and "Over the Hills and Far Away") and I practiced them for, like, so long that he couldn't even stand to hear those songs anymore.
When did you start writing your own songs? Ever since I could play, I was always making stuff up, but I wrote my first full song when I was 12. I can still kind of even remember . . . some parts of it.
How has your songwriting evolved? I first began to write . . . just themes and, you know, instrumental guitar stuff. I always hear progressions and chords in my head . . . and I'll grab a guitar and try to translate from my head to the guitar. As the years went on, I started writing lyrics. At first, I definitely admit that I probably wrote some really bad lyrics. (Laughs) But I just kept practicing at it. These days . . . I just can't help but to write songs. The best songs I've written just spilled out of me.
Who were your influences? I give all the credit to my mom and my dad because they turned me onto to really good music. They used to always take me to see live music. I saw The Grateful Dead when I was 9 years old. My mom used to take me to see Neil Young and Bob Dylan. Those were some of the most inspiring moments in my life. I would go home and practice the guitar for, like, a week after that.
Like any contemporary artists? Ryan Adams. His music definitely speaks to me and Ray LaMontagne, too.
When did you start your band MiZ? The band MiZ itself has only been together for eight months now. I'm really looking forward to what we're going to sound like in five years. I toured the country for two years with a jazz-fusion band called Gongzilla. I was really in awe of their musicianship. All the while, I had all this music that I'd written that I . . . never did anything (with). When Gongzilla decided to take a break, I must made a commitment that I was going to go full speed ahead with my own band. I just had started this band, and six months, later we're standing on stage opening for (Grammy-nominated guitarist) Derek Trucks.
How did you meet the other members? I'm from Scranton originally, but I'd been living in York for three years. I was looking for members for a while. I just picked one of my best friends, Alan, who is my bass player. We've been friends since we were about . . . 14. He's just a great guy . . . and he's a great musician, and he's also a great producer. Our drummer, we kind of stumbled upon by accident. Our original drummer . . . was going through lot of things at the time, and we had a recording session coming up and a bunch of gigs and he just (couldn't make it). A friend of a friend gave me this other guy, A.J.'s, number. I just called him, and he came (from Wilkes-Barre) within a day's notice.
Describe your sound and style. What we're calling it now is Americana soul. We kind of came up with that term because we really didn't see a lot of other bands going down that route. I grew up playing in a lot of jam bands. The last few years, I've actually started writing really focused songs. The reason that we're different is because on any given night there is still a lot of really intricate guitar work. (The crowd) could get anything from, like, a straight bluegrass song to, like, a . . . funky soul song.
Are you guys headed into the studio? We just started. We (had) our first studio session (Feb. 7). We know what songs that are going on the album and everything like that. We just actually have to start recording. (We're) hoping to have the full album out by the summer.
Are you friends with other musicians in the area? There's a band called HogMaw that I'm friends with . . . and Mark DeRose (of The Mark DeRose Band) definitely. Dana Alexandra (is) great, too. We just played with her at the Chameleon (Club).
- ERIN McCRACKEN, FLIPSIDE STAFF
If you go
See Mike Mizwinski perform a solo show during the Millennium Music Conference. His gig is at 11 p.m. Feb. 19 at the ABC Brewery, 3721 Market St., Camp Hill. For details, visit www.abcbrew.com.
See MiZ perform with The Mark DeRose Band May 8 at the Penn State York's Pullo Family Performing Art Center, 1031 Edgecomb Ave. in Spring Garden Township. Tickets are $12.50.
For details, visit pullocenter.yk.psu.edu.
On the Web
For details about Mike Mizwinski, visit www.myspace.com/mikemizwinski.
For details about MiZ, visit www.myspace.com/mizband.
Listen to the interview at www.flipsidpa.com.
Read more meet-the-artist interviews at www.flipsidepa.com/musicdirectory.