Mike Dillon Can’t Slow Down

February 17, 2023
Marty Halpern

Percussionist Mike Dillon is blessed with an insatiable amount of energy and creativity – his musical wheels stay in overdrive and his output as of late is in a league of its own. One of his latest projects, Mike Dillon and Punkadelick, with pianist/keyboardist Brian Haas (Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey) and drummer Nikki Glaspie, has released its debut album “Inflorescence.”   

“Inflorescence” is the fifth album Dillon has released in the last few years, a run that kicked off with 2020’s “Rosewood,” followed by 2021’s trio of Covid releases, “Suitcase Man,” “Shoot the Moon” and “1918.” 

This latest project was born from the synergy Dillon and Haas found playing live gigs throughout the pandemic. The pair met Glaspie at a Mardi Gras gig in 2021, and the instant chemistry on and off stage dropkicked Punkadelick into orbit. Their album is filled with the New Orleans vibraphone jazz/punk/funk sound Dillon has made a career perfecting. Haas’s piano and Fender Rhodes shine throughout, but his bass Moog contributions will have your subwoofer bouncing in places it never has before.  

According to Dillon, the chemistry the trio found on the road transferred perfectly into the studio as they knocked out their debut album in record time.

“It didn’t even take us a full day. We went in around four and were done by nine,” Dillon states. “That’s the jazz tradition.” “I showed Brian some songs that morning on my piano. We rehearsed for an hour.

“We picked Nicki up from the airport and went to the studio. Then we did three takes and the third take was the one.”

The album includes songs both Dillon and Haas brought to the table. Several including “Apocalypse Dream,” “Devil’s Playground,” and “Homer and Deb” have been setlist staples the last couple of years. Haas’s contribution “Slowly but Surely” is a direct result of being urged by Dillon to create something unique.

“That song, I was like ‘Brian write a rock instrumental,’ and that’s what he came up with.” Dillon explains. “It’s a Brian Haas signature sound with me giving him focus and challenging him.”

Although the material on “Inflorescence” is filled with Dillon’s jazz/funk sound, there are a couple of areas intentionally missing from the mix. The album is instrumental and doesn’t have the hardest edge punk rock songs Dillon frequently includes on his releases.

Dillon says there was a method behind the madness for putting the debut together, saying “We recognized the strengths of this project. It was easier with our time restraints to say let’s make the first record instrumental… I wanted this record to sound like a rock instrumental, record and not an abstract record where people would critique every note you play.” 

He continues, “The punk rock isn’t going anywhere. I’m still doing that in my live shows. Nicki plays hardcore amazing. The way we’re playing some of my old punk stuff, she’s totally crushing it.”   

Thanks to Weise, who produced the previous four Dillon releases, the low end sound created through the bass Moog perfectly permeates throughout the album. Your subwoofer will definitely bark in places it hasn’t before.

Dillon adds “Chad Weise, my good friend, engineer, and co-producer is a sonic wizard. He has tons of old gear, including the mixing console that came out of Muscle Shoals or Stax. He’s like ‘I’ve got one Sly Stone used here, and Frank Sinatra used here.’ Whatever he used on the bass Moog, which was very old, really warmed it up and gave it a nice character.” 

Dillon says has no plans of slowing down during this latest creative outpouring. He’s cranking out new tunes at a record pace, and has also found inspiration in another musical project, Fackn A’. For Dillion, it’s full speed ahead.

“Right now, I have another jazz record mixed. Another “Rosewood”-type record. I also started a new rock record. I have three records mixed and ready to go, but I can’t kill my label and be like ‘can you put out these three records right now?’” 

Dillon concludes, “This is the commitment. My new band, Fackn A’, is fun and energetic and super punk as fuck. These are the two projects I see myself touring with. We did our first Northeast run with Fackn A’, it was three sold out shows. It’s something I’ll do on the road.

“Other than that, it’s Brian Haas and myself and a stable of badass drummers. Things have been flowing lately. I wrote three songs last week when I was home for a few days. You may not be John Lennon, Paul Simon or whoever your favorite songwriter is. If you write all the time, you get better. That’s always been my creed since I started writing music.”   

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