Interview with professional dummer, songwriter, and producer Mike Gray
Same Vein/Highway Ryders/Last Call
By Alison “MetalBabe” Cohen
Mike Gray is a professional drummer, songwriter, and producer. He is currently playing drums in three entirely different bands; the straight-forward heavy metal band Same Vein, southern rock band Highway Ryders, and cover band Last Call.
I saw Same Vein perform for the first time at Paladino’s on Saturday, September 28th for 100 Thousand Musicians for Change, along with Elevensworth, The Hard Way, Miss Crazy, and Showtime. This was the first time I have seen Same Vein play live, and I was impressed with their high-energy hard rock rock n’ roll show. I have known their drummer, Mike Gray, since he was in Stonebreed a few years back, and it was great to see him doing something new. I finally got the chance to catch up with Mike Gray and talk about his background, current projects, and future plans.
Metal Babe Mayhem: Let’s start out by talking a little bit about your background. When did you first start playing drums?
Mike Gray: I was eight years old when I started playing drums. My dad was friends with a lot of musicians and some of them were members of the Beach Boys and The Safaris. I was fortunate to hang out in the studio with these guys when they were rehearsing and recording. I was also fortunate to grow up with all the guys in Armored Saint. They were very inspiring for me as a young drummer.
MBM: Wow, that’s very cool. Who are your main influences as a drummer?
Mike: I love the drums! I have so many influences… John Bonham is probably my all-time favorite. Cozy Powell, Vinnie Appice, Jeff Pocaro, Steve Gadd… The list could go on forever.
MBM: Tell me more about your studio.
Mike: I have always had a home studio. We engineered and produced the Same Vein EP in my studio. I recently moved into a new house last year and have been building a studio for a while. It has been under construction for the last six months and is near completion.
MBM: That’s great news. What can you tell us about your upcoming Same Vein release? Do you have a working title or single in mind?
Mike: The new songs on this upcoming CD show the progression of Same Vein in terms of finding our sound and owning it. The title of the album is still in progress, but we have a few singles; “42 Ton Limit”, “Wrong Side of Five” and “Lockdown,” that are definitive of the Same Vein style.
MBM: Musically, how do you think it compares to your 2012 EP “God’s Violence?”
Mike: The new material takes what we did on “God’s Violence” and turns it up to eleven. We have come together as a live band and the new music is more complex, mature, and undeniably heavy. More composition, more range, more depth, and more of our individual musical influences will set this release apart from our debut effort.
MBM: Where are you at in the recording process?
Mike: Since we are putting the finishing touches on my home studio, we haven’t started the recording process yet. We are rehearsing the new material and we will start demoing the new songs towards the end of November, beginning of December. After recording the EP at breakneck speed we are now able to analyze the whole engineering, mixing, and mastering process so that this release will hit with the full impact that we want people to hear. Expect the same heavy flow of metal, but more focused.
MBM: Do you have a scheduled release date for 2014?
Mike: If Aaron’s (Lead vocals/Rhythm guitar) crystal ball is correct, we are shooting to drop the new CD in summer 2014.
MBM: What are your plans once the CD is released? Any local shows or touring in the works?
Mike: Throughout the whole recording process we’ll be playing as many gigs as we can with a focus on playing new places outside of LA. Ideally we’ll be overseas for a festival or two, and hopefully a tour in the States. Once the CD is released, Same Vein plans on doing it all over again; write, record, gig, melt faces, etc.
MBM: Very cool.I read that you recently joined Aztec Recording artists Highway Ryders? How did that come about?
Mike: I was with my cover band, Last Call, and the bass player Scott Taylor, said one day at rehearsal, ‘Hey the drummer in Highway Ryders just quit and I think you would fit in great with this band.’ And he gave me the CD. I listened to it and learned the tunes, showed up for an audition and they said you got the gig!
MBM: Awesome. Tell me more about the cover band you’re in, Last Call.
Mike: We play everything from the 1960’s to current. It’s a fun thing we do, learning and playing all our favorite songs and then going out and playing them live and making a little extra money.
MBM: That’s great. Musically, all three of your projects are very different. What kind of challenges are there playing drums in such different sounding bands?
Mike: I have always loved all styles of music and when it comes to playing the drums I have never wanted to be the drummer who could only play rock or metal, or the drummer that could only play the blues. So I have always learned to be prepared for the challenges of playing in different sounding bands like Same Vein, and Highway Ryders.
MBM: Thank you Mike. It’s been a pleasure speaking with you. Anything you want to say to your fans?
Mike:Yes, I would like to thank all my family and friends, and all my fans who have supported me throughout the years with all the bands that I have played in. Most importantly, I would like to thank all Same Vein’s and the Highway Ryder fans that support what we do. You can find Same Vein and Highway Ryders at: