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Revenge is an exceptionally powerful human emotion. It has started wars, has been the main plot point of countless horror slashers and has served as the driving force behind some intense music, including Mike’s Dead’s most recent EP. “The title track, ‘REVENGE,’ marks a significant change in my life,” Mike says. “I was very amped after coming back from my first headlining tour, but I came back to a lot of issues with now old friends. I had a fallout with a ton of people who were close to me and when you listen to the title track, you hear it in there. I got stabbed in the back and that was my mindset when I was writing this EP.”

Although Mike released his aforementioned EP in mid-September 2021, he began working on it in early 2020. It was a period of transition, not just for his personal life, but also for his music as Mike was set on taking his sound to the next level. “I wanted to push what we were doing,” he says. “I think I only had one song out that incorporated any screaming, whereas four of the six songs on the EP feature screaming. We took everything I was doing and put it on steroids. It’s where I’ve always wanted to take my sound and we finally started to do it.”

Photos by Troy Conrad

Photos by Troy Conrad

Reworking one’s musical style is a massive undertaking, but Mike was able to take advantage of his time sequestered at home during the pandemic to write music every single day. This gave him the opportunity to flex his creativity and bring a range to his work that has surprised even his most hardcore fans. “You get all aspects of what I bring to the table,” he says. “For example, ‘BEES,’ the last single I rolled out, is more industrial rap. ‘DEAD’ is more hip-hop with a rock crossover. Then you have ‘SICK,’ which is more of a metal track and ‘NIGHTMARES’ is all singing. All of these songs incorporate singing, screaming and rapping—which really shows my versatility.”

While Mike is the face, pipes and overall mastermind of “REVENGE,” he wasn’t alone in creating this EP. He teamed up with his close friend Taylor Wilzbach, who acted as co-producer, early on and this partnership kept the project cohesive despite the many genres Mike experimented with. Additionally, he brought on several features to spice up some of the singles, notably Ash Costello, lead vocalist of the alt rock band New Years Day. This endorsement helps Mike to be appreciated, not just as a hip-hop artist, but as a bona fide rockstar.

“When I first started, [my music] was still hip-hop and dark,” Mike explains. “We’ve really ramped up the production to be a lot more in your face and leaning more toward the rock side of things. This is something I’ve wanted to do for a really long time and bridge the gap into being rap-rock. I’ve been able to do this by creating this type of production, using this type of vocal tone and learning how to scream properly.”

Photos by Troy Conrad

Photos by Troy Conrad

“REVENGE” is the just latest chapter in Mike’s Dead’s continuing evolution, a story that began around two years ago. In that time, Mike has not only grown up as a musician, he has built up an impressive collection of juxtaposing tattoos. “My tattoos are all realistic pieces, but they’re all in heavy black, which shows my personality,” Mike says. “I have a massive Beretta with a silencer tattooed down my leg. Then literally right next to it, there’s a fucking Hello Kitty tattoo. My right arm has super dark and heavy imagery with snarling Dobermans and a fucking AK-47 blasted across my forearm. But I also have Pikachu on my leg and doodles on my thigh.”

Thus far, Mike has yet to mark his body with an homage to his music, but that will change some day as he’s set aside his chest to start off a larger torso piece with his emblem. Many of his diehard fans have beat him to the punch with Mike’s Dead tattoos of their own. “I think it’s crazy and I love it,” Mike says. “Seeing that people have looked at me in the sense of, ‘Damn, this kid’s music has really shaped my life,’ is a huge reward to me. To me, the social media stuff doesn’t matter, numbers don’t matter—none of that stuff matters. But if I see something tangible like a tattoo, it gives me so much more serotonin.”

With the support from his fans, a game-changing EP available on every major streaming service and plenty more on the way, this only marks the beginning of Mike’s Dead’s saga. It’s clear to see the only thing dead about his career is his moniker, and we’re pretty sure he’d raise some serious hell in the afterlife. After all, isn’t that what rockstars live to die for?

Photos by Troy Conrad

Photos by Troy Conrad