Hawaiian musician Mike Love layers a sax and trombone with his band to fuse jazz, rock, and spacey psychedelia with roots reggae. His non-stop message of unity and positivity has garnered worldwide fans. His song “Permanent Holiday” charts nearly 13 million views on YouTube, riding a wave of internet popularity.
I reached Mike by phone for this interview while he was driving to pick up his son from school. I found it coincidental since one of the questions I had for him was, how do you balance work and home life – obviously he does it quite well. Love begins a tour of Colorado next week and then starts a three-island tour starting May 24. Love and his band will perform at the Kahilu Theatre on May 26 with opening guests Sahra Indio and Lopaka Rootz. You can find ticket info below.
When did you decide to make music a career?
Really early on. I mean, I’ve played music all my life, and I really knew I was going to do it from a young teenager. I just focused all my energy on it and realized that was what I wanted to do.
What’s been your most pivotal career experience?
There really hasn’t been like one in particular. I think it’s been a very slow and steady growth for me. So, things have kind of happened. There wasn’t like one moment where all of a sudden, I was onstage in front of a few thousand people… [and it]incrementally led up to those points. There was no, like, pivotal scene. But when my first album came out and I sort of had some videos on YouTube that went viral and stuff, that kind of changed a lot for me.
How do you balance personal life and work life?
It’s the never-ending quest. There’s a part of me that wants to just like work, work, work, work, and get so much work done, and get the music out there to as many people as possible, and then there’s another side of me that just wants to always stay home and be with my family. The easy thing to do is definitely to stay home. But I do realize that the gift of this music has a responsibility too. I’m constantly re-evaluating what my potential and capability is, and what my limits are. I’m also constantly re-evaluating the limits of the stress I can put on my family… that separation on my family because it’s a lot to ask. It’s a lot to ask my kids to let me be away for long periods of time and it’s a lot to ask my wife to take on the role of both parents while I’m away. So, I just try to balance it out when I am home.
What’s a normal day like for you?
I really have no normal day. It’s good, I guess. I never sleep the same hours. It’s like today, for example, I woke up, I took the kids to school. I played my guitar and worked out some music for a little while. I watched an episode of a really cool TV show with my wife and daughter, and then I went out to a rehearsal.
What excites you most about music?
Oh, man, music is the best when it’s shared. It’s like if we go to a place, and there’s a bunch of people there that are really open to it, and really open to be a part of the energy. It’s really exciting because it’s always fresh. So, even if we’re playing songs that we played like a thousand times, it’ll come out differently because of ourselves. I just try to put my ego aside and open myself up, let my energy flow, as best it can flow, and let whatever is going to come through, come through. And then if people have the same attitude, I mean, sharing the energy with us, then it’s really a transformative thing for me, and I think for other people there too.
What can fans expect at your upcoming show at the Kahilu Theatre?
We’re really excited because we’re coming with our band. We’ve just been recording our newest album, and we’ve been in a really super creative mode. I think it’s pushed the ball to a new level. We just did a tour in the West Coast and I could really feel the effects of that. I just think we play better or more cohesively… I’m really in love with the band. They’re such an incredible group of musicians that inspire me so much!
Tell me about the band joining you on stage?
We’ve been playing together for the last few years and it’s really a band that was formed out of all of my past experience in music. I started out this project coming from a really big band, and then I started out doing a solo project. I hand-picked the musicians from people who I’ve played with over the years. The camaraderie is impeccable, and the musicianship is impeccable and it’s just like I’m like floating on a cloud every time I play with them.
I’m always excited to come to the Big Island. Before I got the real big love and support that I have now on Oahu, I got it from the Big Island first. I’ve always had a kind of special place in my heart for the Big Island since then, because I just love the people of the Big Island.
Is there anything else you’d like to add before we go?
I’m looking forward to it [the concert]. I always look forward to being on the Big Island. Waimea is like one of my favorite parts of the Big Island. It’s so amazing out there! I love the air up there. I love heading down to Waipio.
Thanks, Mike. I really appreciate your time and look forward to seeing you at the Kahilu Theatre on May 26.
Thanks, man. Thank you so much! Aloha!
* This interview was edited for space and continuity. If you’d like to hear the full interview, please click on the play button.
If You Go…
What: Mike Love Band with opening guests Sahra Indio and Lopaka Rootz
Where: Kahilu Theatre, Waimea. Phone: 808.885.6868.
When: Sunday, May 26, 2019, 7:00 pm
Admission: $43.50 / $38.50 / $33.50
Buy Tickets: http://kahilutheatre.org/https://app.arts-people.com/index.php?performance=429202
Mike Love tour dates and music news can be found here: http://www.mikelovemusic.com
Steven Roby is a respected music historian, journalist, and best-selling author. He has written feature articles and reviews for Guitar World, and has been featured in Rolling Stone, the New York Times, and Billboard magazine. Roby is also the Managing Editor of Big Island Music Magazine.