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A Dirty Dozen with MICHAEL JAHNZ from RICHRATH PROJECT 3:13 – July 2021

| 14 July 2021 | Reply


According to a recent press release: “Michael Jahnz started the REO connection when he became lead vocalist and front man for the legendary Gary Richrath, former lead guitarist and song writer for REO Speedwagon. They toured together for over a decade as the Gary Richrath Band playing the songs Gary had written for REO Speedwagon as well as original Richrath tunes and songs Michael had written with Gary. Michael and his band Richrath Project 3:13 continue to honor the memory of the late Gary Richrath at every show!” We get Michael to discuss new music, influences, and more…

1. Tell us a little about your latest release.  What might a fan or listener not grab the first or second time they listen through?  Are there any hidden nuggets you put in the material or that only diehard fans might find?

“Help Me Save Me from Myself” is a song that Gary Richrath wrote years ago and brought to me during our time together in the 90’s. We worked on it together in the studio, but we never released the song on our Only the Strong Survive album, and this song kind of just got tucked away for all these years. After the record company decided to start working on resurrecting the Richrath Band in 2019, I dug out a few of these old tunes that Gary had written and that we had worked on together. This particular song, I hope rings a chord with many people. All of us have our struggles, some more than others and this song although it starts out sad, shows that if you ask for help, there can be light at the end of the tunnel. Diehard Richrath fans will definitely notice Gary’s signature guitar sound. We pulled his actual tracks off the demos he and I did all those years ago and it actually sounds like he is in the studio right there with us. The little nugget that people may hear if they listen close is Gary’s voice signing background vocals along with mine. That’s a cool fact about this track.

2. What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a musician?

As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a musician. I grew up around music with my family all playing instruments. I started with trumpet and continued on with bass guitar. I actually performed “professionally” for the first time at my 8th grade graduation dance. I only started playing rhythm guitar after I met Gary Richrath, who taught me himself, after he decided I should be a lead singer and front man for his band.

3. Building on that, is there a specific song, album, performer, or live show that guided your musical taste?

My first concert when I was 12 years old was the band YES with Chris Squire on bass. That’s when playing bass first intrigued me and the vocals were also awesome. RUSH was also a huge influence on me early on in my career. I started to notice and appreciate vocals more and more with bands like Chicago, Little River Band and Ambrosia and of course later on, The Eagles.

4. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a song with, who would it be, and why?

I’d have to say Diane Warren. She is an amazing songwriter and literally has endless hits. I would like to learn a secret or two from her.

5. What is your favorite activity when out of the studio and/or not on tour?  What do you like to do to unwind?

I love to hang out with my family and just relax, but my favorite hobby is actually working on collectable cars.

6. How would you describe your music to someone who’d never listened to you before? What is the one comparison a reviewer or fan has made that made you cringe or you disagreed with?

My music is primarily Classic Rock, but I always make sure to include a good Pop hook.  I’ve been fortunate enough to not have had much criticism in my career this far, but I know it may be lurking around the corner at any time, especially being in the public’s eye.

7. When your band is hanging out together, who cooks, who gets the drinks in, and who is first to crack out the acoustic guitars for a singalong?

Anne is our “band mom” who takes care of all of us, including food and drinks and making sure everyone has what they need. Occasionally, Dennis and I will pull out the guitars and jam a bit, especially if we’re hanging in the coach.

8. When was the last time you were starstruck and who was it?

I truly can say I never really get starstruck much. I’ve come to find out over the years and from meeting so many people, that everyone is just a regular person deep down inside, once you get to know them.

9. What is the best part of being a musician? If you could no longer be a musician for whatever reason, what would be your dream job?

Performing in front of people. The bigger the crowd the better. I love entertaining and I love seeing the reaction from the crowd when they dance and sing along to every word. Making people happy with music brings me joy. My dream job, hmmm, I guess my dream job has always been being a “Rockstar”. It’s just part of my DNA. If I couldn’t do what I do, I guess I’d be an entrepreneur and still make people happy with whatever brilliant ideas I could come up with.

10. What is one question you have always wanted an interviewer to ask – and what is the answer? Conversely, what question are you tired of answering?

The question is, “What REALLY happened with Gary and REO”. The answer is, “You’ll have to wait for the book”.  Part two… ditto.

11. Looking back over your career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over,” even if it didn’t change your current situation?

There have been many ups and downs, highs and lows in my career. I have to say, everything has been a learning experience and I believe everything happens for a reason. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without mistakes, but I can’t off the top of my head choose just one instance that sticks out as a “do over”.

12. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording sessions for any one record in history, which would you choose – and what does that record mean to you?

This may sound strange with everything I’ve said so far but, Tumbleweed Connection by Elton John. Gary had me listen to this album over and over to hear the vocal phrasing. The sound of that album is just amazing. Everything is so simple yet so crisp, especially with the technology for that time. It influenced me tremendously.





Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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