by Nick Scalera
I had the pleasure of speaking to Don Miggs, frontman and lead vocalist of the band Whole Damn Mess. In speaking with Don, there was a real sense of joy in his voice as a man busy with many projects and involved with various endeavours. He was personable, honest, genuine and very funny. The band is currently in the middle of an 8-stop tour of the Northeast in support of longtime Seattle-based alternative rock band Candlebox.
Nick Scalera: How did the band name Whole Damn Mess come about?
Don Miggs: Our slogan is “Love is messy. Life is messy. And if you dig deep and really get past the bullshit it’s a WHOLE DAMN MESS. Beautiful and weird and scary and sweet. Complex and simple. All of it.”
NS: How did your band end up on tour with Candlebox?
DM: I’ve been friends with Kevin Martin for a long time and filled in for Scott Weiland in the past on tour. Just the fact that we get to play shows with friends is really something special.
NS: While photographing your show last Friday at the Wellmont Theater in Montclair, New Jersey, I was really impressed with enthusiasm your band had on stage. It really seemed like you guys were having a great time!
DM: Thank you. It was a great time and playing music with friends is the best! We’ve had a great time on tour with Candlebox.
NS: Can you tell me the stories behind album titles, “The Queen And The Outcast” and “Princes Turn To Thieves”?
DM: The “The Queen And The Outcast” is autobiographical and about my the love affair between Lisa and I, how we met, fell in love and eventually married. “Princes Turn To Thieves” refers to the kids and the fears one has bringing them up in a world that is upside down.
NS: So it seems you have a lot of irons in the fire?
DM: (Laughing) Yes, you could say that. Between the tour, writing new music and producing, there is a lot going on. I’ve been working on music for the movie Skyman produced by Billy Corgan (Smashing Pumpkins) and Dan Myrick (Blair Witch Project), and a Food Network music project with Tyla Florence. I also produce compose and produce music at LaLa Mansion in Tampa, Florida and LaLa Mansion West in Hollywood Hills, California. I have a podcast called Miggs & Swig featuring my wife Lisa, Ben Swig, Jojo and myself talking about topics such as parenting, relationships, politics, etc. for two hours every week.
NS: Based on your 30+ years’ experience, what advice can you give to aspiring musicians or bands?
DM: Dream big, accept reality and be responsible about finances. In business, you have to be the last man standing. The music business takes a lot of hard work. If you have the stomach, balls and heart to survive, you will be successful. You need to work your ass off and be persistent. The music business is not for the faint of heart. There’s no magic potion.
NS: You know, that’s excellent advice, you should write a book!
DM: I did, it’s called Dads Know Best and in it I have quotes on fatherhood from both famous and everyday dads.
NS: How does the band connect with fans?
DM: Music and life are contact sports. We really enjoy meeting people at the merch table after shows and connecting face-to-face. We use social media as well including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for further reach.
NS: How are tracks produced and what is the process behind the music?
DM: We are fortunate in that all the members in our band play multiple instruments. We are a 6-headed monster and the songwriting is a shared responsibility with members having input on the songs at different times.
NS: I really enjoyed the short film on your website, “Redemption”, what message is the band hoping to convey to fans?
DM: Thank you so much. It’s a short film produced by Bill Fishman and it delves into the complexities between love and hate. It features the songs, “Be Good To Yourself”, “We Don’t Need A Reason”, “And Then We Were” and “Anywhere Without You”.
NS: Are there any pre-show rituals that you guys do?
DM: I am going to have you talk to fellow band member C. Todd Nielsen.
C. Todd Nielsen: We drink some Tequila before going on-stage to perform. We found a kind we really like called Clase Azul and the decanter it comes in is a one-of-a-kind piece of art. We keep it onstage with us too.
April 25, 2019