Discovery: Miko and the Musket
Published June 8, 2011
We sat down with Miko de Leon, creative force and frontman of the folk-rock band Miko and the Musket (who are currently tearing up the Lower East Side’s underground music scene) in the restaurant where he spends his days slaving in the cramped basement office. The band started as a collaboration between de Leon and best friends Molly McAdoo and Lannon Killea and has grown to a regular band of balladeers, including an electric guitarist, a bassist, a cellist, a violist, and a drummer named Moses. Their first song, “The Hymnal,” which you can see de Leon, McAdoo and Killea perform above, is bluesy and slightly haunting, while “Bright” (watch here) channels Amos Lee’s soul with de Leon’s own brand of hipster-friendly youthful optimism. Amid several interruptions (liquor deliveries and phone calls for reservations), here is what de Leon had to say.
CURRENTLY RESIDES IN: New York
GENRE ASSIGNATION: I wouldn’t quite call it bluegrass, just because I never grew up playing bluegrass. Probably a more accurate description would be folk. It’s Americana-inspired music. There might be bluegrass flavors in there, but I don’t know enough about bluegrass to say that that would be an applicable description. Folk rock would be the flavor that the band would be best affiliated with.
INFLUENCES: I grew up listening to a lot more acoustic pop kind of stuff. When I first started writing solo stuff I was listening to John Mayer, Jason Mraz, Jack Johnson, but I grew older and my tastes matured. I really am into Amos Lee currently, Ray LaMontagne, old-school guys like Loudon Wainwright. And that’s where I think I started gravitating towards the whole Americana feel. I think for me, [the appeal] is the storytelling. I love lyrics in songs—more than any aspect of music—and those guys especially have such a strong grasp of storytelling and communicating and using words in really great ways.
ON DECIDING NOT TO PURSUE A CAREER IN MUSICAL THEATER, WHICH HE STUDIED AT NYU: I think right after I graduated, I just knew that the acting business was not for me. I just didn’t really have the guts for that particular art form. It’s a really demanding field, and I don’t think my passion for the arts was really in that department. And I had always loved singing and always loved music.
WERE YOU ALWAYS A SONGWRITER?: I started writing songs when I was in high school, more as a hobby. At that point in my life, I wasn’t looking too far into the future, but when I graduated school, I started hanging out with more professional songwriters and musicians, and that community was so attractive to me, and I wanted so badly to be a part of that. And to find out that that career was a real possibility was exciting.
ON HIS SIGNATURE CABBIE-HAT-AND-GLASSES COMBO: The hat… I got… from a store. [laughs] The glasses—I’ve always wanted to wear glasses, but I have perfect vision. The band and I have always called them the thinking glasses. When I write, I wear them. And they kind of help ease my nerves, to be honest. When I wear them I get to be an exaggerated form of myself.
LIKE THE INVERSE OF SUPERMAN?: I guess so, yeah. [laughs]
MIKO AND THE MUSKET WILL PLAY TOMORROW AT 8 PM AT THE NATIONAL UNDERGROUND ON THE LOWER EAST SIDE.