Mike Hamel
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Mike Hamel

New York City, New York, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2013

New York City, New York, United States
Established on Jan, 2013
Band Alternative Singer/Songwriter

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"Playing the washing machine and hitting the mic"

When Mike Hamel appeared on my laptop screen for our interview, I could tell he was tired. “Sorry I look a little ragged,” he began, “I had a late night.” This late night was courtesy of Hamel’s performance at The Back Fence in New York City – a gig that kept him out until 3:00 am. Yet Hamel – with a coffee in hand – was cheery and ready to talk.

“I had been playing music for a really long time – you know, playing in bands and doing a bit of the cover circuit playing in bars around where I grew up,” says Hamel, “but that’s the thing, I had been in the same area for 27 years and I just got the seven-year-itch of working at the same job. It’s like, ‘Am I doing what I want to do? Should I be pursuing more?’ Especially when it comes down to music, it’s just something you have to throw yourself into full force.” So Hamel – a Fishkill, NY native – made the bold decision to quit his job and move to Hoboken, NJ with his boyfriend Geoff to pursue his career as a musician. Although most budding musicians relocate to Los Angeles, Hamel chose New Jersey. “What’s cool about being in Hoboken is that you’re really close to the city,” he explains, “New York has always been an epicenter for music and culture, and especially now there’s a flood of bands coming out that are more folk driven, and that speaks to me. Seeing these bands coming out, Geoff entering law school in the area, and getting tired of my job – all these things lining up – this was the time.” The singer-songwriter claims he had his “VH1 moment” while working at a music store, and knew he had to make a change. “I remember I was filling a humidifier, and said to myself, ‘Man, fuck this.’”, he laughs. “So the next day I talked to my manager, quit my job, pulled out my savings and started booking shows.”

“I was going door-to-door to bars and restaurants with a press kit, a CD, and cards, saying ‘Call me, I can do anything, I’m available all the time’, and that worked for a while,” says Hamel, “Then I decided to record a legitimate CD, so that was the next thing on the list.” To fund this project, he began a Kickstarter campaign. “It was fantastic, I got a huge response. It funded the whole record from production to recording to pressing, and it was incredible because it was this feeling that if you take things into your own hands, and you have enough heart, you can make anything happen.” His EP, “Where the Change Is” was released in March 2012. “I wanted an album that reflected my personality,” he explains, “One with a broad range of songs – there are some really intense ones, a few lighter ones – six songs that were more or less in the same genre but went different places.”

Hamel reveals that he wants his music to fall between Jeff Buckley and Queens of the Stone Age – whom Hamel considers his “Elvises”. “I want my music to be folky, I want it to be story-telling, to be daring and to shock people.” He chose to record his next album at home as it gave him more flexibility. “With this record, I’m going to be all over the place: there’s going to be a dance song, country-esque songs and high-energy rock and roll. I’m playing my washing machine or hitting the mic instead of using a drum set.” But he still wants to maintain the heart and soul of folk music to connect with his audience, “People want to hear something that’s a little more heartfelt – music doesn’t have to necessarily be ripping your face off. There are people who come up to me after shows and say, ‘I know we’ve never met before, but that one song, that one line hit me, and I just wanted to say thank you.’ And it’s touching,” he says, “I mean, that’s what music is all about to me.”

Hamel admits that artists release songs that appeal to the masses, showing preference to the most popular genre of the time. Once that genre loses its allure, the audience moves on. Today, folk music takes the spotlight – and up-and-coming artists are taking notice. “It’s this big resurgence,” explains Hamel, “It started with Mumford & Sons, The Lumineers, Phillip Phillips; and if you go out to Brooklyn any given night of the week, you’ll see.” Hamel says he loves how mainstream folk has become, but stresses the importance of uniqueness within a popular genre. “It all comes back to a certain format,” he continues, “There’s always an acoustic guitar, there’s usually a banjo player, tambourines and group vocals. It’s almost becoming a parody of itself.”

By night Hamel is a musician, but by day he is a music teacher. “I stumbled into it,” says Hamel, “I’m still doing music full-time, but it’s not the most lucrative business. I needed to have some extra flow going. I always had these great relationships with music teachers growing up, and I wanted to help start someone else on a journey that, if they didn’t have the right teacher, they wouldn’t want to pursue.” But what he didn’t realize was how this experience would help him as an artist. “It’s constantly keeping me on my toes. I’m singing all day so it’s st - Rhetoric Magazine


"Mike Hamel - "Where the Change Is" ep review"

Mike Hamel is a Singer/Songwriter from New York who recorded his debut EP “Where the Change Is” after successfully funding a Kickstarter campaign. His influences include Pantera, Jeff Buckley, and Queens of the Stone Age, and audiences have compared his sound to artists such as Men at Work and Incubus. Hamel’s main act is currently acoustic/vocal-based, but he has also been involved in full band material in the past.

“Where the Change Is” begins with the title track, and from the beginning, the exceptional production quality and booming vocals are inherently evident. This track embodies a more country rock vibe, while featuring a unique chord progression and crisp guitars. “A Decent Man” is mixed very well, and sounds a bit like Kings of Leon combined with Buckcherry. The lyrics portray interesting comparisons and metaphors, and Hamel’s large voice is ever-present throughout the track.

“Heartbreaker” contains an emotionally charged verse, a great vocal storyline, and picks up smoothly while mainly staying soft and quiet. “Letter to a Ghost” is a very Nashville / Songwriter sounding track with a large focus on the lyrics. It is drop-tuned and features intelligent strumming patterns and solid vocals.

“Never Enough” is a soft rock track with a relatable, positive, melodic arrangement and strong message. This was a personal favorite of mine. The final track, “Carousel”, featured an interesting, circus-like chord progression that expanded into its own unique verse. The country rock vibe and exceptional picking made for a solid song. Hamel did a great job with his debut offering and I wish him the best of success over the next year and for the extent of his career. - Tom Lohrmann Music


"Mike Hamel - Musician/Model American"

Have your emotions pack their bags because they're going on a trip when you listen to Mike Hamel's latest album, "Where The Change Is".
From the first note of the gritty, southern, blues-rock feel of the title track 'Where The Change Is,' I was hooked. His hauntingly powerful vocals on "Letter to a Ghost," are out of this world. (That's right, I've got puns and I'm not afraid to use them!) Beware of "Heart Breaker" and "Never Enough," to me they carried the strongest emotional impact and therefore were my favorites. His lyrics are so damn relateable, I often caught myself reflecting upon different moments in my own life while listening. This album is the perfect storm of great songwriting, brilliant musicianship, and killer vocals. (Seriously, if I could steal this guy's vocal chords I TOTALLY would!)
If you're a soulless robot and/or are already dead inside, then this album isn't for you. If you appreciate real musical talent, then pick up a copy of "Where The Change Is" today. I can't wait to see what's next from Mike Hamel: Musician / Model American. - Eric "Shmonty" Ashmont - Radio Personality 93.3 KDDB Arizona


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

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Bio

Mike Hamel is a singer/songwriter with a lot to say. After earning his stripes in his hometown (Poughkeepsie, Ny), he has immersed himself completely in New York City's expansive music scene.

"I just want to be happy and sustain myself off of playing and making honest music," he says.

The first step was quitting his job. Check. The second step was getting an e.p. recorded. Check. Hamel recorded "Where the Change Is" (a 6-song disc available on Itunes, Spotify, Rhapsody, and others) with the help of a successful Kickstarter campaign. The third step is in motion now. Hamel currently plays regularly in NYC's 5 boroughs and is quickly amassing shows in and around the area.

Hamel's music can be described as alternative rock, though his influences range from Jeff Buckley to The Roots. Audiences have likened his sound to Colin Hay (Men at Work), Incubus, and Glen Hansard (Swell Season). His solo performances are emotional and raw while his full-band shows are orchestrated and full of energy. Regardless of the format, everyone who witnesses his live shows walks away smiling and singing.

Check out Mike's upcoming dates, music, and videos at MIKEHAMELMUSIC.COM. There will be plenty more dates and music to come so stay tuned.

Check out the video for "Letter to a Ghost" here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O9v4A2YYbGs

Check out the video for "All You Do is Use Me" here: http://youtu.be/MveDL6QtMbk

Band Members