Mike Starcher
Q: Thank you for agreeing to do this interview! To begin with, tell us about your
current projects.

Hey Julian! You're most welcome and I'm flattered you chose me. I hope I'm not too
boring. :c)

Regarding my main project, I've recently been offered (and accepted) the drum chair
in a Cleveland blues/swing band, The King Bees. I've just left Shady Drive, but on
good terms. It was just time to move on. I'm still very active with Prime Numbers and
as a fill in with The Burnt River Band.

Prime Numbers is mostly a fall/winter project, since all three of us are extremely busy
with our main gigs during the spring and summer months. Our schedule is just
starting to fill up for the 2008 - 2009 season. We're a classic rock cover band. Very
heavy on Stones and Beatles covers with some 80s and 90s stuff thrown in.

The Burnt River Band is a very popular blues band who've been around for 30 years.
I average about 10 - 12 gigs a year with them as a fill in.
Q: Do you have anything else in the works?

Shady Drive guitarist Rob Hayes is planning a CD of original tunes and had expressed some interest in my doing the drum tracks and
vocals. Not sure when that's going to happen, though. The King Bees do quite a few original tunes, so I would imagine we'll be going into the
studio at some point, though there's nothing planned at the moment. I did a reunion gig with The Remainders on October 3rd and I'm
expecting some nice audio from that featuring the new SQ2 kit.
Q: I know you have a new SQ2 kit, will you give us a rundown of it, and your thoughts
on the sound and construction?

Ordering them was pretty spooky, actually. I'd never heard an SQ2 in beech so I was
flying blind, basically. The first indication I had that I'd made the right choice was
hearing Steve Smith's 30th Anniversary kit when he was in Cleveland back in June.
My kit arrived about a month later and I couldn't be more pleased. They've exceeded
my expectations in every category. The entire kit configuration is 22"x17"BD,
10"x8"TT, 12"x9"TT, 14"x14"FT, 16"x16"FT and 14"x6"SD. I have them fitted with
clear Ambassador resonant heads and coated Ambassador batters. At the next head
change I'm going to try clear batters and see what they sound like with a
little less warmth and a bit more attack, though I'm really happy with the sound as
they are. They've got a lot of the warmth and bottom end of maple, but at the same
time they have that crisp, focused attack of birch. However, they don't muddy up like
maple does sometimes and they don't sound thin like birch can. I truly believe that
beech is the best of both worlds.

Regarding the construction, they're extremely well-built. The fit and finish is very high
quality. These are some gorgeous tubs! I've taken some photos but it doesn't do
the drums justice. The lacquer is even, no runs, drips or thin spots. Bearing edges
and snare beds are flawless. Hardware and fittings were perfectly installed.
Everything about these drums is top shelf.
Q: How does your new kit compare to the others you have?

Strangely enough, I'd say they compare more closely to the Hilites than to any of
my other kits. The Hilites are famous for that focused tone and the SQ2 takes
that a step further and refines it, so to speak. The Champions, Delites and
S-Class Pro are all great drums but they can't touch the SQ2.

Q: How did you decide on the specs of your new kit? Will it be
your gigging rig?

I planned the SQ2 as a gig kit to duplicate the sound of my Champions, so, yes,
they're my main gig kit in tandem with the S-Class Pro. I love the Champs but
they're just not practical to gig with. They're heavy and in large sizes, so they
get a bit hard to tame in small rooms, both footprint- and volume-wise. So, I
ordered the SQ2 in a medium beech shell and in standard sizes like the
Champions and I'm just blown away by them.
Q: What brought you to Sonor in the beginning?

I was getting back into playing after being away from it for 15 years. I was picking
out an entry-level kit (which shall remain nameless), and I found a Sonor Phonic
Plus 14"x8" snare and snagged it for $200. I played it once I got it home and that
was it. I was stung. Next I got the Champions, then the Hilites...I was a goner. I
had full-blown Sonor-itis. Now I'm up to 5 kits and have to take a breather until my
house is built. Then we'll see. :c)

Q: You are a Sonor endorser. Would you playing Sonor even if you weren't on
their roster?

Absolutely, without question. I played Sonor for 4 years before landing my
endorsement deal with them. I consider it a great honor to have been chosen as
an endorser, and I'm very proud of that, but if I weren't, I'd still be playing Sonor. I
think endorsing is all about playing what you believe to be the best, and not at all
about playing whatever gets you the best deal.

Q: Do you endorse any other products? (if yes, please explain)

I play Vic Firth sticks and I'm working on the folks there, but I don't have a deal yet.
Q: Back to your playing, tell us about the types of music you play, and what
areas of your playing you are currently trying to develop.

I try to keep my hand in a lot of different types of music. The King Bees is a
blues band, but we do some swing and some jazz-type things. I've recently
started studying jazz with a teacher from the Youngstown area and that had a
little to do with my move away from Shady Drive. Prime Numbers is pure rock
n roll. We venture into some Steely Dan, 80s and 90s pop, and even a little
country, but it's real heavy on the Beatles and Stones. The Burnt River Band
is blues. Not newer stuff, but hard-core blues stuff like John Lee Hooker,
Muddy Waters and the like. I try to keep it pretty varied.

Q: Do you ever see yourself playing fulltime?

I think everyone does, but not everyone gets that chance. I play pretty close
to full time now. Basically every Friday and Saturday and the occasional
weekday gig. So if the right gig came along, I'd absolutely grab it and run
Q: What lies ahead for you, musically?

That's a question I wish I could answer. Right now, I'm just starting out with
The King Bees and I'm really excited about the possibilities there. I think Prime
Numbers will be around for quite awhile, since it's an ongoing side project for
all three of us and we're all on the same page. Hopefully I'll continue to play
some gigs each year with The Burnt River Band.

The Gin Blossoms are getting a new drummer. I wrote to tell them that I was
available but they must not have gotten the e-mail because they haven't
called. (Ahahahaha) Seriously though...Mr. Fagen and Mr. Becker...if you're
listening, I can be available! ;c)