Hard-touring quartet Mike Got Spiked might be the most popular traveling Irish rock band to ever swing through town. Their music is a frighteningly tight hybrid of emo-metal, old-school punk, and bar-room mischief — aggressive and solid.
"I would point to their music as an attraction fundamentally," says Ryan Brown, proprietor of the Map Room, a regular stop for the Dublin-born band. "I've seen it hook people who don't even listen to that style of music, which I suppose gets labeled Irish punk just because. Their sound is more of an aggressive/hard rock tone, but you get four-part vocal harmonies and more somber — perhaps they would correct me, 'sober'— melodic pieces as well. Beyond all that, though, those are some of the greatest guys you'd ever want to meet at a pub. Their humor and character suck you in like a black hole while you are hanging out with them before and after the show."
Lead singer Gavin McGuire, drummer/singer David Lodge, guitarist/singer Conall McMahon, and bassist Jonathan Myles formed Mike Got Spiked in 2002, and quickly garnered a reputation for their incendiary live shows. According to McGuire, Lodge's mind is full of smut, McMahon's talent is "witty one-liners," and Myles is the "band Casanova." The singer describes his own vocal style and delivery as "loud, shouty, abrasive, and confrontational."
Mike Got Spiked strengthened their reputation as one of the Emerald Isle's most innovative rock acts over the following few years, releasing a Top 30 single "All You Need" along the way. They return to the Map Room this Saturday in support of their latest releases, Caveat Emptor and Poetry and Prozak.
"We've had some great shows in Charleston, and Ryan at The Map Room and all his staff have been nothing but amazing people to us all," says McGuire. "We look forward to having a great night with them again."
According to McGuire, 2006 was a transitional year for the Spiked. The band switched gears and dedicated their efforts to traveling, recording, and gigging.
"We left Ireland last year and started out on this epic adventure," he says. "We quit our jobs and spent eight months living exclusively off music in Ireland. We'd spend each day writing, rehearsing, and recording demos. Thursday through Sunday, we'd tour 'round Ireland, trying to make a few quid to keep the wolves from the door, while also increasing our fan base. We realized that if we really wanted to move to the next level, we would have to leave Ireland and its limited scene behind.
"Our friends in the band Morello had been on tour in America at this time and only had good things to say about the experience," he adds, "so we followed in their footsteps, sold everything we owned, and took out a huge loan to fund our trip. So we toured America from June to December 2006, then went home to Ireland for Christmas — we did some touring there, too — and then we returned to tour America again from January to May 2007, at which time we once again returned to Ireland for some weddings, to tour again, to write new songs, record, and of course renew our American visas. We've been back in America since September and have been on the road since."
The experience of booking and playing such lengthy tours in a different country was a bit difficult and challenging compared to playing Ireland, the UK, and Europe. They embraced the challenge, however, konkin' in the van, networking with various bands and venues, and making friends along the way.
"The size of this country is mind-blowing," McGuire says of the States. "We can play anywhere in Ireland and drive home and sleep in our beds that night. We don't actually have a home here in America. We live out of our van and seldom sleep in a bed, so we're really experiencing the true touring life. But we have made lots of friends in the last year, and they let us crash in their homes all the time. We feel very much at home over here. As for booking the shows, the hardest part was getting taken seriously here in America. A lot of venues, promoters, etc. would not book us because they obviously had never heard of us. The actual performance part is pretty much the same anywhere in the world — although we do play up our Irishness a lot here in America. We just do our thing and if you like it, you like it, if you don't, you don't. Real music fans — American, Irish, or whatever — appreciate good music no matter where it originates."