Michael Cerveris grew up seeing bands at the Memorial Field House in his hometown of Huntington, West Virginia. Among these early influences were Uriah Heep, Kiss, Rush, Mott The Hoople, Kansas, REO Speedwagon….and The Carpenters. His first band–in Junior High School named Ukiah after a Doobie Brothers deep cut–was notable primarily for its volume rather than any particular musical skill. Through a job as a record shop clerk his early interests in Peter Gabriel-era Genesis, Gentle Giant, and Emerson Lake and Palmer eventually gave way to immersion in Joy Division, Smiths, Teardrop Explodes, The Jam, and other 80s British imports. Rounding out his musical influences was a deep passion for The Replacements, Husker Du, and later Teenage Fanclub, Posies, Buffalo Tom and Idlewild
Cerveris has always had a parallel life as an actor. Early appearances as guitar-wielding british music student Ian Ware on the Fame TV series eventually led to originating the role of Tommy in the Broadway musical of the Who's rock opera, an acclaimed performance as Hedwig Off Broadway and in LA and London, a Tony Award for his performance in Assassins, and playing Sweeney Todd in the highly regarded 2005 Broadway revival. He has most recently been seen on screen as Mr Tiny in Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant, and as The Observer on the FOX series FRINGE.
While performing Tommy in New York he started his first band LAME with Alice Ripley, Shannon Ford, and John Jinks, performing regularly at Jeff Buckley-era Sin-E and recording one unreleased live acoustic CD. While performing Tommy for 18 months in Germany, he formed a german version of the band with Quintus Kannegeiser and Daniel Schroter playing clubs in the Frankfurt area and several large outdoor festivals.
Cerveris stopped acting for a while between Hedwig stints to serve as Bob Mould's touring guitarist and backing vocalist on the Last Dog and Pony show tour of the US and UK in 1998, settled for two years in London and recorded a first set of EPs in Glasgow and at Rockfield Studio in Wales with Norman Blake (Teenage Fanclub) and Charlotte Hatherley (Ash) mixed by Nick Brine. Formed a band called Retriever with David Ledden (Knuckles), Alex Lutes (Nightnurse), and Mark Kulke in London. He played support slots for Frank Black and Vic Chesnutt, toured with Pete Townshend, and sang with The Breeders and Stone Temple Pilots.
Returned to the US and recorded debut album DOG EARED (Low Heat Records) under the band name CERVERIS. The album was recorded at Fireproof Studios in Red Hook by Adam Lasus with guest appearances by Ken Stringfellow (Posies), Steve Shelley (Sonic Youth), Corin Tucker and Janet Weiss (Sleater-Kinney), Kevin March (Guided By Voices), Norman Blake, Alex Lutes, Joe McGinty, Anders Parker, El May, and Laura Cantrell.
Cerveris divides his time between New York and New Orleans and continues to act, record and perform, most recently at Bowery Ballroom with Duncan Sheik and Nellie McKay and at Tipitina's with Happy Talk Band and Caddywhompus.
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