Mikal Cronin is a highly respected musician and songwriter fromm the US west coast who, apart from his solo stuff, plays in a row of indie bands, including that of Ty Segall. He released his new album in May of this year and is live on the 8th in Lido. We stopped for a chat with the gentleman.
indieberlin: Mikal nice to meet you, and welcome to Berlin. You’ve had a haircut since I last saw a photo of you.
Mikal Cronin: Haha thanks. It’s cool to be back, and yeah I’ve cut it all off. It gets so ratty I just cut it all off every year or whatever and start over.
indieberlin: I know that feeling. So you’ve hung out in Berlin a bit before?
Mikal Cronin: Not tons, but I was here last year with Ty Segall’s band; we played right across the road at Astra in that old industrial warehouse setup they’ve got going on over there.
indieberlin: Yeah Astra is not far. Thats cool you remember. Speaking of Ty, I’m a huge fan of both his music and yours. How did you two come to working together?
Mikal Cronin: We went to school together in the O.C. We’ve been playing music together for like 15 years; crazy to think about really. But yeah we’ve always played in bands together, playing house shows and stuff growing up.
Mikal Cronin: Yeah we both lived there for a while, but we both moved back down recently. I only moved back a few months ago.
“There is a ton of awesome bands in San Francisco.”
indieberlin: How did you end up living in S.F?
Mikal Cronin: I moved up ’cause tons of my buddies moved up for school or whatever, so I moved up to go to school too, and to play music. For so long I was delivering pizzas and working in record stores, it still blows me away that I’m in Berlin to talk about my music, it’s mental.
indieberlin: When I think of San Francisco and garage I think of you, Ty Segall and Thee Oh Sees, is there a super healthy garage scene up there?
Mikal Cronin: It’s not huge. I guess comparing it to L.A, the city is so small and so much more compact that everything happens right in S.F, where as in southern Cali it’s so much more spread out. But yeah, there is a ton of awesome bands in San Francisco.
“We had a string quartet come into the studio for like, just two hours, and bang it straight out.”
indieberlin: Your new album MCIII came out May 5. I was reading the press release and it said you recorded all the instruments on the album, and even arranged a string quartet. Tell us about that.
Mikal Cronin: Yeah I recorded all the instruments except for the horn and a few others. But yeah I also wrote sheet music and had a string quartet come into the studio for like, just two hours, and bang it straight out. It’s crazy we got all it recorded in such a small timeframe but they’re professionals and just basically read it straight off the sheet and played it just about perfect first go, it was easy for them.
indieberlin: It’s been two years since your last album MCII, and compared to a few other guys you play with… they seem to put out new material it seems every six months?
Mikal Cronin: I suppose my music is a little more “poppy”, but you’re right, guys like Ty (Segall) and John (Dwyer from Thee Oh Sees) are so talented that they can put out fresh stuff consistently, and good material, too. They’re crazy. They can write on the road but I like to take my time and put all my effort and creative energy into it, which I don’t think I could do if I tried writing while I’m away.
indieberlin: When I started listening to you me and my mates would call you “Mick-ul” and not Michael; I wasn’t sure if we were saying it wrong or what?
Mikal Cronin: I get all sorts of stuff all the time, Often its “Mee-kal” but yeah it’s pronounced the same as every other Michael. It’s technically the traditional spelling from the old Irish Catholic days, but I just started writing it as my name in school or whatever to see if my teachers would say anything and it kind of just stuck.
“They are so sick, you should check them out.”
indieberlin: So what’s on for the rest of the year for Mikal Cronin?
Mikal Cronin: I’ve got a short tour in the spring to coincide with the album release, then a short tour early in the summer here in Europe. Then a bunch of festivals, and yeah, just tons of shows. I’m playing Primavera Sound this year which I’m really excited about.
indieberlin: What albums have you got on rotation right now?
Mikal Cronin: Elton John’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, some Paul McCartney, and my buddies from home called Wand; you know, like the lightsaber? They are so sick, you should check them out.
indieberlin: Thanks for the tip, I will definitely look them up. Well good luck with the release and your tours, and I will see you in June.
indieberlin: Nice one, see you then.
Mikal Cronin’s new album MCIII will is now out on Merge, and he will play Berlin Lido on June 8.
Interview by James Rippon for indieberlin