Saturday, January 8, 2011
Tony Memmel is a songwriter and performer with unique charisma and creativity. He was born missing his left forearm and taught himself to play the guitar, piano and harmonica. It is my contention that if you heard a song of Tony’s on the radio or on one of his CDs (“The Tale of an Underdog” (’08), “Potter Road” (‘09) or his brand new album "Here We Go") and were not aware of his being an amputee, you would never know the difference at all. In fact, many people are often shocked to learn of it and/or don’t even notice at his live shows until he wipes the sweat from his face with the two characteristic arm bands that he wears on his left bicep.
But, Memmel is not one to try to sell you on his handicap alone. His music most definitely stands on its own. It is catchy, without sacrificing sincerity, and his lyrics are personal and real. Memmel has earned a Bachelor’s degree in music and is a classically trained and acclaimed vocalist. He has gained a loyal following and support from fans and musicians alike in the Midwest, the Country, and even the World.
Though you will most often see Memmel playing solo, his band has rapidly worked its way onto the scene. In 2008, drummer and longtime friend Brian Farvour began collaborating with Memmel. Tony soon recruited his wife Lesleigh Memmel to join the cast. She contributes backing vocals and piano/keyboards to the group’s signature sound.
Memmel has toured extensively and is making a name for himself in such places as Milwaukee, Boston, New York, Chicago, Philadelphia and Minneapolis. During the course of his latest tour he was honored to take first place in a prestigious singer-songwriter competition in Boston. He's sold hundreds of CD's and t-shirts, out of his trusty brown leather suitcase, to a growing national fan-base.
It may sound trite, but in this case trite is just plain accurate, Tony Memmel has a talent and personality that you simply do not see every day. It doesn’t fit to say it’s the beginning, as Memmel has accomplished more in his life with one hand than I have with two. Get on board now, as many already have, and be on the lookout for great things from this bright young artist.
INTERVIEW with JEN ANDUJAR and TONY MEMMEL
Before we get into the interview, could you please give a brief introduction on who you are/where you are from?
Hello, my name is Tony Memmel and I'm a singer-songwriter from Milwaukee, WI.
In one sentence, describe your music to someone who may have never heard you before.
Singing, song-writing, good old fashioned one-armed folk rock!
What makes you stand out compared to other artists in your genre?
There are a lot of tremendously talented artists in my genre. Being a singer-songwriter is challenging. It demands the focus of the listener, and the songs and stories are usually very personal - You put yourself on the line everyday. What makes me different... It took me a LONG TIME to figure out how I could even play the guitar and get in front of people as a solo artist... Years. I've pushed myself doubly hard to develop into a songwriter that I can respect and be proud of. I have a unique story and it's one I'm glad to be able to share.
At the end of the day, I know that I am one of the hardest working artists out there.
Do you have any formal training?
Yes, I have a degree in Music Business and I am a classically trained vocalist. However, I am self-taught on guitar and have never had a formal lesson.
Who are your biggest musical influences?
My biggest influences are: Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Ben Folds, Iron & Wine, Tom Petty, The Swell Season, and more recently The National, and the Arcade Fire.
Describe your dream tour.
My dream tour was my first tour (2009). Now, touring is a reality and a huge part of who I am as a musician. I LOVE being on the road.
I plan to continue expanding my reach, keep going east, start going west. In the next few years, I'd love to travel to Europe to tour.
A dream tour would be to open for one of my aforementioned influences... Or better yet, have them open for me! ;)
What is the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened while onstage?
I'm not too easily embarrassed, but a few years back I was playing an outdoor show and when I inhaled to sing, I inhaled an Asian beetle and choked on it. That was pretty nasty and took a while to recover (physically and mentally)!
If you had one hour to spend with any musician (dead or alive), who would it be and what would you do?
I'd probably buy Bruce Springsteen a beer, hang out, and pick his brain a bit. I think that would be really cool.
You are stuck on a deserted island. What are three things you can’t live without?
My wife, my guitar, and an MP3 player with all of my favorite music.
If you could be rich OR be a musician-which would you choose?
I'd be a musician. I think richness can be defined in many different ways. Right now I am a musician with a growing fan-base, a wife who loves me, a supportive family, and friends I enjoy spending time with. I travel, I write, I work from home many days... Sounds pretty good to me.
What is your favorite...
movie? Tough question, I love film... I particularly enjoy Martin Scorsese films - (The Aviator, The Departed, Gangs of New York, No Direction Home etc.).
song? "Born to Run" by Bruce Springsteen
color? No one has asked me this in a while... Green or blue... They're all pretty nice!
animal? Dogs and/or cats.
vacation spot? I'd love to make it back to Europe again. I also enjoy the American east coast... Or Disney World :)
food? I love Mexican food!
What's one random fact that not many people know about you?
I'm competitive... Especially when it comes to board games or four-square.
Where can we learn more about you/buy your music?
You can learn more at: www.tonymemmel.com, www.myspace.com/tonymemmel, look up my Facebook artist page, www.twitter.com/tonymemmel, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can buy my music at www.itunes.com/tonymemmel and at www.tonymemmel.com
Any last thoughts before we wrap this interview up?
Thank you so much for taking time to interview me. I really appreciate it!