How many artists have been praised a “punk rock provocateur,” “jazz vibraphone visionary,” and “percussion virtuoso” in the same sentence? There’s only one: Mike Dillon. Whether through his affiliation with artists like Les Claypool, Primus, Rickie Lee Jones, and Ani Difranco, or collaborations such as Nolatet, Garage a Trois, The Dead Kenny G’s, Critters Buggin or bands he has led, including Mike Dillon Band, Mike Dillon’s New Orleans Punk Rock Percussion Consortium, Billy Goat and Hairy Apes BMX, the Texas-native has set his own standard for 25 years now. Over the past decade, Mike Dillon has released a number of acclaimed albums, intertwining a range of influences from Zappa-esque eccentricity to Fishbone punk funk, D.C. Go-Go to Milt Jackson-influenced vibraphone majesty. Never before, however, has he recorded music so personal and committed to a sustained mood as his latest album, Functioning Broke. The recording finds Dillon solo on vibraphone and various percussion, building each track into its own minimalist, but multi-dimensional auditory landscape.
The current version of the Mike Dillon Band features guitarist Cliff Hines, Bassist Nathan Lambertson and a rotating cast of drummers including Claude Coleman Jr. (Ween), Simon Lott, G. Maxwell, Doug Belote and Paul Thibodeaux. With this line up, Dillon has continued exploring the connection between New Orleans street beats, Ska, funk, Hardcore and jazz. The band will release a new record in February 2017 titled, “Life is not a Football.” Produced in New Orleans by Richard Maloney and Dillon with engineers Rick Nelson and Robert Mercurio, this album sounds like a Spotted Cat trad band that grew up playing Dead Kennedys and invited Captain Beefheart over for a dinner cooked by Thelonious Monk. The Mike Dillon Band has supported acts like Galactic, The Revivalists, Clutch, Primus, and Fishbone, while continuing to play music festivals and in cities across the U.S.
In 2016, the Gambit’s Big Easy Awards named Mike Dillon “Performer of the Year” and the Mike Dillon Band “Best Punk/Metal Band” in New Orleans. Living in New Orleans for over 10 years now, when not on the road with Rickie Lee Jones, Nolatet, or the Mike Dillon Band, Mike resides in the Musician’s Village with his fiancee.
Instead of a Bio Drummer/Singer James Daniels sums the band up pretty well in this Interview with Rock on Philly’s (music blog’s ) Brittany Salerno.
ROP: That sounds great! It’s always good to see artists collaborate with the mutual intention of bettering all the creatives involved. You just toured through West Virginia, right? What’s it like being in a van with everyone for such long trips?
JD: We are all best friends from High School. So basically it’s kind of like carpooling with your friends to school for the AM wake and bake. However, school is 7 hours away now.