Voodoo Kings - 10 Questions Music Review
Updated: Jan 10, 2020
The Voodoo Kings believe in rock n’roll as in pulsing, thumping bass lines, heart beating rhythms and crunching dirty guitars. They believe there is no substitution for two guitars, a driving bass, and banging drums. Just four musicians on stage who know what they’re doing, and crushing it whenever they can. Michael Kranicke, founder of the Voodoo Kings, grew up surrounded by the greatest Chicago Blues-men thanks to his dad’s record player. Muddy Waters and Buddy Guy taught him the blues, and later Keith Richards and Stevie Ray Vaughan taught him how to turn those blues into a rock-fueled epiphany. Their latest release is Faith & Whiskey (two of their favorite things). It is a fast-paced, headlong trip through our country’s love affair with Rock. Several Voodoo Kings singles have found their way onto the silver screen. The single “When I See Her” from their album 'American Lights' was featured in the movie Deal, starring Burt Reynolds. And two songs from their album 'Mileage', “It’s All Right”and “Strong Will Survive” were used in the Canadian TV series, Dark Rising - Warrior of Worlds.
Was there something (an experience) or someone in your life that was the "catalyst" for you to start writing music? Tell us about it.
God, I think that I can point to my first gig at my high school talent show and I was the lead singer of the band, not much of a guitar player then, and man I had such a feeling on stage and with the band that I thought, that's it, this is what I want and this how I want to feel forever when I do something. Its was magical.
Let's get this out of the way. What is the CRAZIEST thing that has ever happened to you in your music career?
Craziest? I don't know. Some oddities might be: Shaving a girl's head after a show in Michigan. She wanted to be bald. Looked good on her too. Being at the after party in NYC when Aerosmith was inducted in to the Rock n Roll Hall of fame. That was cool as shit. Gigs at nudist resorts are always interesting. Done quite a few of those. Honestly the folks there are the best, Nothing to hide literally and they dance all night long. Landing a van on the front lawn of the local police station at about 3 a.m. and miraculously just driving away, "I'll take the wheel from here Rick." Rock is always an adventure. Keeps you young.
What has been the high point of your music path?
I don't know if there is a single high point. Success comes at every level and you really have to pay attention to the moment and where you are right then and there. I know for myself when I was younger, I was always looking beyond what was happening and not enjoying the moment. I think that just comes with experience and with experience you gain perspective. I am just blessed to still be able to make music and play with some of the best players I can. The slow burn of being consistent is what it's all about for me.
So, how do you approach songwriting or what is your creative process like?
Songwriting for me doesn't follow a formula. I can sit and write something and not be happy with it and have to massage the song until I get it to where I think it's finished. Other times, songs come out in 15 minute and you're like "cool.. that was fast", and you know its finished. I think that each song has its own energy and process and you have to respect that process when you are writing.
What do you see as the biggest challenge facing Indie Artists today? Or, if you could ask the music industry to change one thing, what would it be?
The biggest challenge today for artists is that everything is DIY. You have to do everything and there is no incubator for your creativity. I was watching a TV show with Tom Petty about the making of "Damn the Torpedos" and you have Tom and Mike Campbell and the band with Jimmy Lovine in the studio being able to take their time and work out parts and be creative and be able to do it everyday. Artists today can't do that. There is having to deal with everything under the sun and then worse, to make a living doing something else to fund your creativity. This is something labels, the few that are left, seem to forget that if you can give the artist the atmosphere to work and be creative and not worry about where the rent is coming from, that freedom will release the worry of the artist and let them reach their full potential. Being able to work everyday on your craft is a gift.
If you could share the stage with one other artist or band, who would it be and why?
The Rolling Stones. To me they are still the standard by which rock bands are held. Minimal lineup changes in 50 plus years; Keith and Mick have been slinging it for so long its intrinsic in their interaction. Keith has only played with one drummer in that band for so long! One drummer!!!! All the players that have come and gone in my career, which is understandable, lends to different styles and influences, but that chemistry takes a hit when people leave. They grew up listening to the same stuff I grew up listening to- Muddy and BB and Jimmy Reed and all the great Chicago Blues-men, there's a common thread I would like to explore.
What are your rehearsals generally like? Or, how do you prepare for a live show?
Rehearse like it's a show. Just like a sports team. You practice like its a game. All the effort all the time. If you wash over mistakes in rehearsals and don't correct them, they will show up in the show and that's not good. Rehearsal is where the band comes together, "Hey I love it when you did this here" or "play that again in the chorus because that rocked". you can't get that on a show. Rehearsals should be creative and lively and where you prep for a show. To me, what people see at a show is 10 percent of what goes into it musically.
Pick one song that was your greatest challenge to write. Tell us about it!
I think the song "King of Nothing" off the latest record 'Faith & Whiskey' was a challenge. Originally started out as a Dylan type song but had some pushing and pulling in rehearsals and ended up with some U2 type vibe with a little early Killers thrown in. You always try and work the song and make sure its on the right track and the vibe is there. That can be difficult with some songs.
What's coming up in the future?
Shows, more writing and prepping for another record, Making sure that the material is there. Spotify campaigns and really trying to be as zen as possible to where I am right now. I think I am trying to find appreciation in every day. That can be tough in an already tough industry.
Tell us where fans can access your music?