Leaving Dystopia - Debut Album by Mike Williams
The powerful debut album by singer/songwriter Mike Williams
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Influences
  • The Beatles
  • Harrison solo
  • Lennon solo
  • McCartney solo
  • Jimi Hendrix
  • Led Zeppelin
  • Pink Floyd
  • Collective Soul
  • Laurence Juber
  • Jack White
  • The Cult
  • The Kinks
  • Klaatu
Guitars
  • Gibson LP Studio
  • Epiphone LP 100
  • Epiphone LP Black Beauty
  • Epiphone Dot
  • Epiphone Sheraton
  • Fender Stratocaster
  • Ibanez Roadstar II
  • Gretsch G5120
  • Washburn 15/TS
  • Hofner Bass
  • Epiphone "John Lennon"
  • Ovation Celebrity
Singer / Songwriter Mike Williams
Review by C Bret Campbell of Middle Tennessee Music

"...Mike delivers his spiritual message of oneness in 10 righteously RoKKin' tracks that pay homage to sounds and styles that come from that magical time a space in music we spoke of earlier. He pays homage to bands like Beck with late eighties drum sounds and there's a taste of that early Lenny Kravitz in "Soldier of Love."

What really struck me about Mike's stuff was that he channels (I don't think there is any other word for it) the late John Lennon. It's eerie. I've never heard anything quite like it. It's there through the whole disc - not just in his fabulous rendition of "Working Class Hero," and honestly, I don't think it's something he tries to do - it just comes naturally..."

Read the full review here.
C Bret Campbell of MidTennMusic (MTM) interviews Mike about Leaving Dystopia (Sept 2013)
Questions & Answers with Mike

Q - Why did you take on writing an album at this time in your life?
A - First it was a life long dream to write and record an album. I have been playing guitar seriously ever since I was fifteen or so. Secondly, I needed a vehicle to express what I'm seeing in the world and offer up hope and a perspective.

Q - What do you see going on in the world?
A - The ongoing effort by elite control freaks to strip humanity of all dignity by enslaving people through fear and scarcity.

Q - How will the music help?
A - I realize it's one album or 10 songs... but if everyone did their version of one album and 10 songs we can get this ship turned around. It's like the Gandhi quote "be the change you want to see in the world". There's no better place to start than with yourself first and then spread the word of truth, peace and love.

Q - Hence the album title "Leaving Dystopia"?
A - Yes. Leaving the dysfunction. Accepting dysfunction does not make you a better person. We are not here to live in fear and to be oppressed. That's a trap brought on by millennia of indocrtination and propaganda. It's time to break the chains and be free.

Q - In the song "Soldier of Love" you say "I can be Jesus , I can be Buddha, I can be Krishna - I can be anybody I want to be".  Can you explain what you mean?
A - I am telling people we are all divine beings capable of so much more than what we have been told we are or "allowed" to be. We are very powerful spiritual beings with infinte potential.

Q - Some listeners could misinterpet the message and take it as sacreligious...
A - Right and that defines the issue at hand doesn't it? To say you can't be a divine being or be what you want to be because some person in an illusionary pecking order told you you can't is ludicrous. It's time we ask those folks to please step aside.  It's time for humanity to unshackle and spread our wings.

Q - The message in all of the songs makes the listener think and reflect - it's a very relevant and uplifting message...
A - My objectve from the very beginning was to write an album that inspires people and helps them understand they are not alone in wanting to fix the mess that's all around us. There are so many of us in the world looking to make the planet a better place. So the album attempts to reach out to all those that might feel frustrated or believe they have no venue or voice to express their concerns and ideas and help them feel connected. My message to all the truth seekers is you are not alone and we are making a difference - we must keep pressing forward.

Q - What's your take on music today?
A - Much of it is meaningless throw away consumerism. It's engineered rubbish. Most music today is nothing more than a lever used by the power elites as a means to ensure society, especially young people, remain dumbed down and preoccupied with dysfunction. With the exception of the Indie artists, pop music and especially rock, is not even close to being the counter culture voice it should be. It's now part of the problem. It's part of the establishment's control mechanism. Even the bands I grew up with have sold out.

Q - How long did it take to record "Dystopia"?
A - I started the project back in May of 2012. I decided a few of month before that I was really going to do the album. So I bought the Tascam and then had to teach myself how to use the recorder. I go back to the old analog recording days... 8, 16 and 24 track tape with wall to wall mixing consoles. The Tascam fits on a drafting table I have. The machine is actually quite easy to learn and the functionality is amazing. I already had 3 songs written before I fired up the recorder plus I knew I was going to do a remake of "Working Class Hero" so that left 6 songs to write along the way. To my surprise the songs came quickly. I was writing and recording in my spare time into the early morning hours and on weekends. The mixing and mastering was the toughest part because I'm a perfectionist and I kept mixing and re-mixing until I felt good about what I was listening to. I did most of the song editing and compression in Audacity.

Q - What's your favorite song and what's the feedback been like?
A - I'll start with the feedback question first - the feedback has been awesome. I handed out free copies to many of my friends and the response has been extremely uplifting - not to mention the positive reviews on Amazon. It's a good feeling because you're putting your heart and soul into this and you're hoping people will at least like it... so the response has been great. As to my favorite song - I get asked that a lot. I honestly don't know. I have a personal attachment to all of them since the album is the sum of the parts so I'll just say they all contribute to what I believe is a pretty good album.

Q - There's a Lennonesque theme drifting throughout the album - sometimes eerily so - was that intentional?
A - I wouldn't say overtly. For example "We Are One" and the title track "Leaving Dystopia" were written with a Lennon feel in mind. But in every song - perhaps with the obvious exception of "Working Class Hero", I wanted to make sure my style came out on top. People listening will certainly hear the Beatles influence along with the many other influences that have shaped me muscially over 40 years or so... but that's normal. We all have our influences in life.

Q - So you're not concerned about people making the Beatles comparison?
A - No, not at all. I have received a lot of feedback from listeners and fans thanking me for the sound because it brought back a more relevant time for them in their life. And at the end of the day it's just music. Why not sit back, relax and take a listen... give it a chance. Absorb the message. If you pick up a Lennon vibe, or some other influence along the way, then perhaps that's part of the listening experience.

Q -  Speaking of Lennon - you did a nice job of staying true to "Working Class Hero"...
A - The song is a great, great song and I was not about to fool with it. Kind of "leave well enough alone". I did add the drum and bass track to shape it a bit to reflect me... besides I always wondered what the song would sound like with a back beat... now I know!

Q - Could you share with us the inspiration behind each track?

  • I Dig You is a song about love, believing in Creation, wanting peace and nurturing relationships. It was inspired by people missing the bigger picture at times... including myself.
  • We Are One is a protest song at its core. If you want peace then make peace... not war.
  • I wrote Beautiful Soul in under an hour. It's all about raising your vibration and consciousness.
  • I had a lot of fun with Brain Dead. The inspiration came from the many people I know and meet on any given day who are in total denial with what's going on in the world and live the lie... an ode to the sheep that sleep if you will.
  • I actually did Give Me Love on a lark by first recording the song to my computer to test a new microphone I purchased. I then put it on the shelf where it sat for a few months before I dusted it off for the album. I really like the song... it's one of my favorites... simple and straight forward.
  • I wrote Leaving Dystopia when  I was in one of those cynical states I get into once in a while when I see, read and hear the dysfunction in the world. The lead is played by my brother Al who did a great job...
  • Soldier of Love is my shot at institutionalized religion and its dogma which looks to pigeon hole people into narrow minded thinking in order to surpress our true spirit. We are divine beings not robotic worshippers of ritual. Don't worship Jesus - be Jesus, be Buddha, be Krishna...
  • Free was another song inspired by everything we are told we cannot do or cannot be. It's my way of saying "I'm OK, I can take care of myself...  so you can go away and leave me alone - thank you very much".
  • I wrote and recorded Truth late in the evening. In fact, I recall the lead and the vocals all being done at 2AM or so in the morning one night. I wanted it to sound raw and bluesy with a Hendrix sound on the lead...
  • "Working Class Hero" is just a brilliant Lennon song. It's John at his biting best and the song is as relevant and clever today as it was when he wrote it 40 years ago... I could argue probably more so. I just knew I wanted this song on the album.  

Q - Will there be any future albums?
A - Yes... I'm shooting for sometime in 2014. I have no specific date set though. The next album will be collaborative. On "Dystopia" it was all me with the exception of the guitar lead on the title track which my brother Al put down. We are talking about doing a joint release next go around with help from some family and friends who asked to join in on the fun.