Mihali Sells Out Putnam Place, Discusses Creative Process, Inspiration and Gratitude

Mihali Savoulidis, the lead singer and guitarist from Vermont jam-band Twiddle made a stop on his solo tour at Putnam Place earlier this month.  Playing to a sold out crowd, the energy in the room was abuzz with excitement and positivity.  Playing a combination of covers, solo originals and Twiddle songs, Mihali shared his usual charisma with the audience and this spirit and animation carried over into our conversation after the show.   We discussed collaboration, inspiration and gratitude.

Emily VanderWiel:  A new song with Nahko and Trevor Hall just released, “Fading State.”   Can you tell me about what the creative process is like when working with them?

Mihali:   I wrote the tune and I had them in mind, so when I recorded I literally left those places blank and hoped that they would say yes, they are both some of my very good friends.   I met Nahko first, feels like many years ago, probably 6 or 7 years ago and I met Trevor a few summers ago and it was one of those things where both times we jammed, hung out and played.  We are all born in 86, we are kind of cut from the same cloth.  A blessing for me, truly though mainly because I was a huge fan of their music before I met both.  I knew their catalogue and their writing style, and I felt connected before I knew them, and it just flowed from there.

EV:  You are a role model for so many of your fans, both musically and personally.  How do you feel about the idea of role models, and do you have someone that you look up to?

MS:  I don’t think so, I’ve realized that all the people I have looked up to over the years, and just in general human beings are flawed, sensitive people and no one is really, truly a role model.  Nobody is perfect, no one is the end all, be all the best person there is.

EV: How about musically?

MS: Well, both questions go hand in hand because I have to say when I met Trey at LOCK’n two summers ago or something, I walked up to him and said, “Hey I’m Mihali from Twiddle, and thank you for showing me that recovery is possible and that music after recovery is possible.”  Trey is just always busy, trying new things, making music and I love that about him.

MS:   You know, the least favorite question I ever get asked is “what’s this song about.” It’s never what its “supposed to be about.”  It could be totally different than what the singer wrote it about but if it means something to that fan in their world,  I’m not going to bust their bubble and tell them that’s not what the song is about.  It’s all totally subjective.   My question is to the fan, what do you think it’s about?  Then I agree.

EV:   I have a fan question for you.  What was the inspiration for the song Juggernaut when you wrote it and how do you feel about the fan reaction to it?

MS:  At this time in age, and where we are right now I know the political climate is gnarly and we (Twiddle) have always stepped away from that because nobody wants to get involved with politics in music.   But when I think about my wife and my daughter and all the females in my life and the people around me that I love, and respect aren’t getting their dues, and they are not getting respected then it feels like I have to say something.  For the first time ever, well, I have always been the one in the band that’s been like No, no, no, let’s not get involved in politics.   So, I wrote it as a joke. In the studio I said “Let’s do a grunge song, Nirvana or something.  I’ll just write some chords and we will go record it.”  And Kyle, our guitar tech, he had told me a story about when he was in third grade, some kid came up while they were playing king of the kill on a sandcastle and kicked him in the face and said, “You’ll never be king of the hill!”  It was a big deal to him in third grade, and so when I was recording that first vocal “You want to kick me in the face cuz I’m different, yeah you think you’re king of the hill.”  I had recorded that verse as a joke, and we sat home for months with the demos for the album and as the political climate started changing and we started seeing what was going on, I thought that hey now that really fits.  The verses then came after that.  What can I talk about that is going on in the world?  What is bothering me, so that’s where that song came from.

Mihali’s solo tour has been very successful and is wrapping up Dec 15 at Gateway City Arts in Holyoke, MA.  Also just announced, Mihali will be joining Pigeons Playing Ping Pong Saturday January 26 at The Capitol Theater in Port Chester, NY.