How did we end up on the tiny island of Koh Phangan in the Gulf of Thailand?
This is the short version of a long tale of three hard working musicians, one hard working fashion designer and a whole lot of Internet research. Earlier this year, MEN, the fabulous electro-pop outfit from Brooklyn, NY comprised of JD Samson and Michael O’Neill, brought this drumming Brooklynite (Lee Free) on a world tour touching down in 12 different cities in NZ, Australia, Hong Kong, China, and Vietnam. We tagged a vacation in Thailand on the end, bought Kelly a ticket to join in the fun and BAM! Seen and Herd goes International! Here we captured the lovely Michael O’Neill, turned sea creature doing what he does best when he’s not shredding your face with his guitar…relaxing.
SNH: We got you into the ocean for this photo shoot, I know you’re a
water sign, I also know this isn’t exactly your comfort zone, what’s
your relationship to tides and fish and all things oceanic?
Michael O’Neill: I love the water, but it’s true I am a freshwater fish – I belong in the cool, calm lakes of Maine. The oceans are so big and powerful I approach them with respect and with an understanding of how small and insignificant a human is in comparison.
SNH: Who’s your guitar god/dess. Give us a name for your playing style?
MO’N: Trey Anastasio, Thurston Moore, Kurt Cobain, and Jennifer Batten – she was Michael Jackson’s guitarist for over 10 years and is a super shredder! Just listen to the guitar solo in Dirty Diana. She is an inspiration to me for using rock guitar in dance music.
Name for my playing style: Indie-Shredder.
SNH: Upstream or Down, Gaga or Perry, Vampires or Zombies what’s your
Halloween costume going to be?
MO’N:Downstream – I like to go with the flow
Gaga – She stands up for Queer people
Vampires – At least they are so sexy and seductive before they kill you
I’m not sure about my Halloween costume but I’m thinking of joining the Michael Jackson “Thriller” troupe in the Halloween parade.
SNH: You’re Seen and Herd’s first male subject, your insights on
MO’N: In our most basic form, we are humans. Gender and Sexuality are a spectrum meant for traversing and exploring.
SNH: As a NJ native, what would you give to play in the E Street band?
What’s the most Jersey thing you’ve ever done?
MO’N: I think it’s a generational thing, but I’m a bigger Bon Jovi fan than Bruce. Slippery When Wet was probably one of my first cassettes I had when I was 6 years old.
When I was in high school I used to go to Seaside Heights and get into all kinds of trouble on the boardwalk … MTV made a series out of this, so I suppose there is nothing more Jersey than, the Jersey Shore.
SNH: What colors get your heart strings vibrating?
MO’N: Deep Blue, Indigo, Evergreen. (see note about Maine Pisces Freshwater Fish)
SNH: You get to book one day at an outdoor music fest, tell us your dream bill…
MO’N: When I was 15 I saw a Nine Inch Nails/David Bowie concert where the set was one seamless show. NIN began and David Bowie came out and together they played a few NIN songs/a few Bowie songs. NIN left the stage and Bowie continued on. I’m not sure who would be on this dream lineup, but I think it would be great if it was one long seamless show, where the artists shared the stage during the changeovers and played together.
SNH: Outside of music, who are some of your strongest influences?
MO’N: My grandmother. She’s a Brooklyn Italian who loves to dance and sing and doesn’t like to complain and sees the positives in most things and loves Eggplant Parmigiana. I’m pretty much the same person.
SNH: Who would the long island medium contact for you?
MO’N: My grandfather. I never met him, but if he married my grandmother he must have been pretty awesome. Apparently I get my musicality from him, most everyone else in my family is pretty tone deaf!
SNH: Anticipating the next MEN release, when can we expect it out?
MO’N: Looking like March or April of 2013…if the world doesn’t end!! What do you guys think of 2012…are we gonna make it through?!
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