Mike Simms is the featured head on HughShows flier for July. Simms is guitarist and vocalist for the band The Natural Way of Farming. We were able to catch up with the man behind the drawing for a short interview.
HughShows is a free, monthly, family-friendly, Pittsburgh concert series. July 12 features The Natural Way of Farming at 2PM, Emily Rodgers at 3PM and Mariage Blanc at 4PM. You can see past HughShows artist interviews with David Manchester of Arlo Aldo, David Bernabo of Host Skull and Brett Zoric of Triggers at the links provided. You can also read about HughShows 10.4 and HughShows 10.6 at the link.
Sound Scene Express: What’s the name of your band? What’s the origin of that name? Have
you changed the band’s name before?
Mike Simms: We are The Natural Way of Farming. We got the name from a good friend of ours who was an avid organic farmer and musician. We had been playing some music and afterwards we were talking, it came up, and we just sort of adopted it since we were having trouble coming up with anything we liked.
SSE: Who else is in the band?
MS: As of now the band consists of myself and Brian Schaffner. When we play out live we’ve been lucky enough to have good friends to play with and support us. Our drummer, Bill Criley, has been especially reliable, professional and willing to put up with our insanity throughout the years. As for the recordings, it will be simpler to just say that both of us play everything and both of us sing. Although Brian plays drums on all of our recordings. We kind of just go into the recordings and whomever has an idea records. It’s all just based on what’s best for the music and what is the most efficient method of producing the sound that we want to hear. No one holds a position on an instrument, I like to view it as a composition or like directing a movie or painting. We choose the scenery and the colors that are appropriate and shape it all until we have something we’re both satisfied with.
SSE: What genre of music do you consider your work to be? Who are your
MS: Hmm…This has always been a very tough question for me to answer. As far as our first album ,”Give or Get”, I suppose I would consider it some sort of alternative country or folk but that I don’t like the label things. It’s very hard for me to pin down this group to any genre because I have no idea what we might play or record next. Our first release was country/folk, our next release will probably be more psychedelic pop to be broad but I can’t say for certain. We have studio recordings that range from minimal techno to funk. We love music, all flavors. As far as my personal influences I grew up listening to bands like Pink Floyd, Radiohead, Elliott Smith, Flaming Lips, Beatles, and so on. These days i listen to just about anything, but usually I can find some root that leads back to those groups.
SSE: How long have you all known each other? How did you meet?
MS: Me and Brian met around 7 or 8 years ago. I was in another band with his cousin and a good friend of mine. We needed a new drummer and my friend called him up to come to a rehearsal. We immediately brought him into the band and proceeded to tour and record.
SSE: Who writes your song lyrics? What is your inspiration?
MS: We both write lyrics for our songs. Inspiration comes from life. In many ways I think it’s therapeutic for me. There’s a philosophical element involved as well.
SSE: When did you form your band? What inspired you to make music together?
MS: We formed the group maybe 6 years ago. It was a pretty simple decision to make. We were both making music and it only seemed logical for us to make music together. He was starting a home studio and I wanted to start a home studio….it just made sense.
SSE: Where have you performed? What are your favorite and least favorite
MS: We’ve mostly performed in Pittsburgh and our home town. The Brillobox, BBT, Club Cafe etc… but I think my favorite venue to play was our most recent show at WYEP. We’re big fans of WYEP and it just sounded great in there, lots of fun. Least favorite…I had better not say…
SSE: What are your rehearsals generally like? Do you have a set time each
week in which you practice or are rehearsals more spontaneous?
MS: Rehearsals are generally scheduled and kept to a set day and time when possible.
SSE: What’s your ultimate direction for your band? Are you seeking fame
MS: I think we would be happy simply to make a living in some sort of musical profession. We enjoy all music production. Producing music for others and producing our own and performing. I suppose fortune would be nice but it’s not really the focus. Being a part of a great piece of music is the focus.
SSE: How can fans-to-be gain access to your music? Do you have a website
with sample songs or a demo CD?
SSE: How do you feel about being featured on HughShows Live @ Eide’s flier?
MS: I feel honored. I’m very excited to be a part of it, even if I’m just a little bit anxious about being featured, it’s wonderful.
SSE: When is your next show?
MS: This coming HughShows is the last show we have scheduled in the near future. We have a lot of work to do in the studio and a lot of music we’re hoping to release as soon as it’s all finished up.
SSE: Is there any thing else you would like to add?
MS: I’d just like to say thank you for this feature and thanks to everyone out there who is listening. The music doesn’t mean a thing without someone listening.
If you are attending, please consider bringing a new school supply item (listed below) for the Homeless Children’s Education Fund’s GEAR FOR GRADES BACKPACK DRIVE.
-Small Boxes Crayons
-Small Tissue Packs