Gavin Brown Chats To Mickey Leigh
Mickey Leigh’s Mutated Music have just released their new album which is called Variants Of Vibe and is a cracking collection of songs that are both uplifting and packed with vivacity. Gavin Brown caught up with Mickey to talk about Variants Of Vibe, its creation, and how Mutated Music got together as well as joining up with Wicked Cool Records, memories of NYC nightlife, making music with his brother Joey Ramone and the upcoming series on the memoir about his life.
Your debut album with Mutated Music, Variants Of Vibe has just been released. How has the album gone down so far?
Well, the first review that came in called it “The best Indie album of 2022”, and the ones i’ve seen since have been equally enthusiastic about it. So, that’s really encouraging! I think we’re off to a good start.
How excited are you with this album and to get it out there?
I guess the timing could’ve been a little better – I mean, the timing of Covid-19. Aside from that, I’m thrilled!!
There’s a song on the album called Stories That Never Got Told. Do you feel good that you get get the chance to do just that with your music?
My stories have pretty much all been told. I wrote that song about someone who’d been silenced but was now free to speak, who had told me about it. It was a story they’d previously been afraid to tell anyone. I wrote it to encourage other people who’ve been silenced to tell theirs.
The album ends with La La Lala, which is a brilliant way to finish. Did you always want the end the album with a song like that?
Only since I wrote that one. It depends on what the rest of the songs are to be able to determine what songs work best in a sequence. But, I did always think that song would be a great one to end this album with, even before the others were all decided on and as you noticed, it worked out perfectly!
The powerful Standing In The Dark is an album highlight. Can you tell us about that song and what it is about?
That one’s about staying out at night until the club, or bar, you’re at is closing, and everyone who was there is pretty much gone except for you and the cleanup crew.
What other subjects do you deal with on the album?
Any subject with a ‘vibe’.
How did Mutated Music get together in the first place and can you tell us about who plays in the band?
Mutated Music is a name i thought of quite a while ago.I just thought it was the right one for the music i’m doing now, as that’s what it is. I’ve been playing with my drummer, Pat Carpenter for 27 years, and with bassist, West Crawford, on and off for the past 30. West was still living in Florida when I started recording the songs on this album, so I played the bass on those songs. But as soon as he was able to, he came back to NYC and we got right back together. They’re both great guys and two of my best friends. I think the love and mutual respect we have for each other comes across. That, and the fun we have together, brings an added element of joyfulness to everything we do. We have that rare thing bands can’t manufacture, but can only hope to have. It’s called “chemistry”.
The album is out on Wicked Cool records. How did your relationship with the label start?
I’ve had a relationship with Steven Van Zandt that began long before he started a record label and radio channel. I have the utmost respect for him. So, I’m thrilled to be part of his Wicked Cool “family”.
How did the album release party for the album go and what were some of the highlights?
It was the first show we’d done since the lock-down in March of 2020. So, it was great to get back in action, and to meet a lot of the people who’d become “fans” of ours that we’d only talked to on social media.
Will you be playing any more live shows in support of Variants Of Vibe?
How was the experience of writing your I Slept With Joey Ramone memoir?
It was a labor of love.
The book is being made into a Netflix film starring Pete Davidson as your brother. Can you tell us about the film and when it is coming out?
It’s still too early in the process to say when it will come out but so far, it’s coming along well, so, hopefully early 2023. I’m very hopeful!
Who else is in the film that you can tell us about and who do they play?
It hasn’t gotten to that stage yet. We’re still working on the screenplay.
How involved were you in making sure they got everything right with all aspects of your story?
I’m one of the executive producers. When a production or film company options a book, they don’t necessarily keep the author involved after that. Fortunately, though, they’ve stuck to their word about me keeping me involved in the process. So I feel confident that they want to make sure the story is authentic, and that they’ll continue to.
Has it been a surreal experience making the memoir into a film?
Even my real life has been a surreal experience.
Do you have good memories of making the Sibling Rivalry EP with Joey?
No, I have great memories of making that EP! We’d recorded On The Beach already, but we had such a great time recording See My Way together. It was something we’d always wanted to do.
What are some of your favourite memories of the New York City music scene that you and your brother were a massive part of?
The nights he bought the beer. The nights I bought the beer and the nights we drank beer together and watched bands play their first shows at CBGB or Max’s who we thought would soon become some of the biggest bands in the world. And some of them did.
What have been some of the highlights of your career so far?
Playing a show at the Women’s House of Detention on Rikers Island when I was a teenager in a cover band. That was unforgettable.
Thank you so much for spending time with Circuit Sweet and Gavin Brown
Words: Gavin Brown