In late 2007, New Orleanian John Michael Rouchell decided it was time for a change in his life. He set out to write, record, and release one song a week for the entire year of 2008 under the name MyNameIsJohnMichael (MNIJM). What began as a solo project with Rouchell tackling every instrument and even engineering duties on occasion soon grew to the huge project with an ever-expanding following it is today.
Beginning in March 2008, Rouchell met up with local musician Eric Rogers (Glasgow, Antenna Inn) to talk about his project, now in full swing. Rogers began sitting in on drums and from there, additional musicians signed on drawn by the strength of the weekly tunes and the prolific manner in which Rouchell was turning them out. Before long, this one-man show turned into a six-man spectacle, keeping the steady flow of fresh material, building a fan base through live shows, and pushing through 2008 with an unyielding goal of 52 songs in 52 weeks.
These musicians include New Orleans natives Joe Bourgeois (bass in Antenna Inn), multi-instrumentalists Cory Schultz (Glasgow, Antenna Inn, and Rotary Downs), and Austin-native Michael Girardot (Fay Wray, Antenna Inn, and Big Rock Candy Mountain). MNIJM suddenly had an expansive resume and its line-up was nearly complete. In the summer of 2008, local frontman and guitar player/multi-instrumentalist of The City Life, Leo DeJesus was added and the band was complete. With such a widely trained group on stage care of some of the most promising New Orleans indie rock acts, you never know what instrument will become a part of the next song. Glockenspiel, trash can percussion, and four part harmonies are not beyond the realm of the group's imagination.
A force to be reckoned with, MNIJM explodes on stage with songs that OffBeat Magazine says "are split between dark, ambient ballads and Springsteen-inspired panoramic rockers." Conveying stories of isolation and triumph in the modern era, John Michael's "Bright Eye'd vocals," as described by Blog of New Orleans, are grounded by the drive and swagger of the rhythm section (Rogers and Bourgeois) and vibrantly accented by the ever-changing timbre of guitars, trumpets, synthesizers, percussion and vocal harmonies provided by the team of multi-instrumentalists (DeJesus, Schultz, and Girardot), creating a wall of sound that is both hook-laden and earnest.
In an ever-ailing music industry, the young men of MNIJM are working hard to make a debut record for the fans, chosen by the fans, "turning the famously caustic A&R process into a democratic love-in" (Blog of New Orleans) to be out in early 2009.
Due to the rigorous recording schedule of 2008, MyNameIsJohnMichael has only just begun to tour regionally, but the group has big plans for what started as a small project. The only way to understand what MyNameIsJohnMichael is setting out to do is to check out www.mynameisjohnmichael.com and enjoy! As each week passes, a promising 2009 debut comes more clearly into focus.
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