The Mike Lynch band talks influences, venues and Polar Bear

By Chase Myers | @chasemyers_DE | Daily Egyptian

Since the group’s early formation in 2012 and multiple line-up changes, The Mike Lynch band has been grinding in the Carbondale music scene from large venues to small burger joints.

The band’s current line-up consists of guitarist and lead vocalist Mike Lynch, bassist and saxophonist John Bridgeman, drummer Tommy Embrich and guitarist Augustus Martini.

Lynch’s musical excursion began during his first year at SIU in 2012 when he performed as a solo act at various small venues and house shows. He began adding members as he garnered success to produce the substantial sound of a full band.


The DAILY EGYPTIAN had the opportunity to sit down with Lynch, Embrich and Bridgeman to discuss details of the band before its Friday night performance at Hangar 9.

How did you guys get started in music and eventually the band?

Embrich: I have been playing percussion since the fifth grade and I played drums in sixth grade. I hated my band teacher so I quit, then I played drums until high school and got back in drum line and stuff and now I am going to college for music. I met these guys, John, through concert band at the school here and that’s how I got the gig. I’ve been playing with them for about a month.

Lynch: I heard the song “Hello, Dolly” by Louis Armstrong when I was young and that was the first time I heard a song and was like “I have got to figure this out.” And sure enough, fourth grade came along and I picked up a trumpet. I played that for a while and then I eventually moved to southern Illinois from the St. Louis area. I did not have any friends or anything, so I got a guitar for my birthday. Eventually I played in bands, started covering songs, writing songs and it just kind of snowballed into what it is now.

Bridgeman: Music was always a big thing with my family. I always got CDs for Christmas and birthdays and then in fifth grade I started playing saxophone at school and I stuck with that. By freshman year of high school, I picked up bass and played for a while in a local metal band actually. After that, I came here, met Mike at freshman orientation and we kept in touch for the last couple years and at the end of the semester last year, he asked me to play a show with him at the Skihaus. I have been with it ever since.

What are your guys’ musical influences?

Embrich: I used to be big into Mars Volta and drummers like Thomas Pridgen and John Theodore. That is when I got really into my stuff and studying when I was younger. Then, I listened to guys like Tom York and Radiohead. Portugal. The Man is another big influence. These days I do jazz band every day so it is constant jazz stuff, anything from Herbie Hancock to the classics like Miles Davis. Now I am listening to Papadosio, they are sick.

Lynch: Louis Armstrong was the first thing that caught my attention. When it came to songwriting and stuff, the blues was what was important to me in high school. Everyone from B.B. King to Eric Clapton and John Lee Hooker were important, but once you got into stuff like Robert Johnson, the song writing and the sound became important. That is probably when I started writing, when I was listening to folk blues. Bob Dylan helped out a lot with thinking about words more.

Bridgeman: As far as my bass playing goes, John Paul Jones from Led Zeppelin is one of my favorite bass players and I think I get a little bit of my sound from him. Besides that, I am really into funk bass players like Maceo Parker and his band. Outside of my bass playing, I have always been into outlaw country like Willie and Waylon, as well as Johnny Cash. Lately, I have been getting into alt-country stuff like Lucero and Drive-by Truckers.

What’s your favorite Carbondale venue you have performed at?

 Lynch: Well, Tommy has only played with us at Hangar.

Embrich: So that is probably my favorite place. I have played a couple other places around here, smaller gigs, but yeah, good vibes at Hangar.

Lynch: I would say Hangar 9. Playing a basement is cool, but the crowd is eclectic and you never know what they are going to like and not like, which is cool, it tends to be more high-energy. We have played PK’s and that is always interesting. What is interesting about this scene though is each venue has it’s own kind of culture and we are grateful for having such a community and culture to play in. Caylan Hill, Hangar’s booking agent, has been great to us.

Bridgeman: My favorite place has to be Hangar 9 but from the house shows I have played, the people that come out to them are always super into it.

Lynch: They are also not there just getting drunk at house shows. They are there for the music.

With it being Polar Bear weekend, a party holiday here in Carbondale, do you expect the crowd to be “up” or “down?”

Embrich: The last show was a good time. There was a lot of hype in the crowd. If it is the same this time, I imagine the level is going to be very one-notch just for the holiday. People seem to really like that time of the year around here, with Polar Bear, Solar Bear and that kind of stuff.

Lynch: When we promote the shows, we try to use our networks and add a personal touch. My theory behind it is that we tend to get a very interactive crowd. At this point, a lot of them know “Bad News” and the words to “The Ride,” so they sing along and they tend to be really hyped. I expect them to be rowdy this Friday and we look forward to it. We will be rowdy too.