Interview with Mike Jansen and Markham Jenkins
Mighty Fox’s first show ever was on February 13, 2013, but being that the members have come from bands such as 1994 and I Fight Dragons they are no strangers to the music industry. What started as just a casual interest has now become a wholeheartedly pursuit. This Chicago based Alternative band is composed of Mike Jansen (Vocals / Guitar), Markham Jenkins (Guitar), Johnny Walker (Bass), and Chad Van Dahm (Drums). Look out for more information regarding their EP release this June.
In this interview find out how this band came together, read how singer Mike Jansen helped out with Go Radio’s song “The Ending” off of Close The Distance,, as well as find out what band they covered for an upcoming tribute album.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you knew you wanted to be a musician.
We all grew up in separate, but loving households. There is definitely a passion for music in all of our lives but there is a certain drive that is needed in order to make it a career path and thankfully, we all share that drive.
This band is really new, how did the band come together? Would you say it was an organic union, or were you all looking to start a band?
We'd like to think it was a very organic build. What started as a casual "what if" conversation, quickly turned into a full scale project. It's amazing what you can do with a music family behind you that shares your same vision.
Were any of you in bands before? If so, what bands?
Yes we were all in bands. Most recently three of us were in a band out of Atlanta called 1994 and our drummer played for a Chicago based band called I Fight Dragons.
You released two songs in February, what are the plans for more new music?
We have an EP which will be released in June. We also did a cover of a song by "The Get Up Kids" which will be released for a tribute album at some point. Mighty Fox is always writing and recording. We have spent more time on this than any other recordings we have ever individually put out and we are extremely proud of it.
How has the writing process been? Is it an individual thing that comes together over time, or is it a group effort?
The process has been challenging. It's been awesome as well. We all provide something to make these songs come to life. No matter how big of a part or little. Everything counts. We all feel very connected to them. Some songs are purely Mike's doing with Marc McClusky's influence. Others are written by a few of us and Marc will re-arrange them. It's all one machine with exchangeable parts. We do what is necessary to make them happen.
Is there any interesting backstory in how the songs came to be?
Art cannot be made without experience. Our lives have been very interesting to say the least. We have been through a lot together and individually. We have really been tested in this life to stay on the paths we have chosen. Listen to the songs and learn the lyrics. The way Mike sings them says more than I can ever tell you in a question here.
The band had your official debut show on February 13, 2013. How did that go?
Our first show was unreal. The support we have from our families and new friends in Chicago had almost brought us to tears. It is one thing to believe in yourself, it's another when you find that people believe in you as well. Not without mistakes though, not without realizing we still and always will have a lot of work to do.
Are all of the band mates from Chicago?
We are from all over. Some of us were raised in Georgia, some here. We have all moved around. Mighty fox was born in Chicago but we as individuals come from other places.
What is the local Chicago music scene like? How has it changed over the last few years?
Well so far it's been great. There are so many different venues. We have been given the opportunity to play several different places (Beat Kitchen, Double Door, Reggies). For me it makes going to shows more exciting. It becomes less of a thrill when every time you go see a band it’s in the same spot every time. After our third show at Reggies I received a group email from Matthew in the band Comasoft expressing what an awesome show we all had and for us to stay in touch and play more shows together. It was really awesome to get that and see that Chicago bands want to work together not against each other.
What have been your favorite bands to come out of Chicago?
Alkaline Trio, Fall Out Boy, Cheap Trick and Common.
Singer Mike Jansen co-wrote "The Ending" from Go Radio's Close The Distance. How did this collaboration come about?
Mike lived with all of the Go Radio Family for 3 years in Tallahassee, Florida. All of them are very close and when the time came for them to write "Close the Distance", they asked Mike to come back to Florida and see if any cool collaborations could come from it. To no surprise, they came up with a very cool track for the album.
Will you guys collaborate with Go Radio again?
There's a very good chance of that happening.
What are your dream collaborations for this band?
Chris Martin of Coldplay and Jesse Lacey of Brand New.
Why should people want to know your band?
We believe that when we write, we should try capturing a feeling or emotion. We want people to connect with the music, as well as the delivery of the vocals and what we are saying. Too often we listen to bands where we feel there is a lack of vision. That is not Mighty Fox. You can never force someone to love your music or any music for that matter, but you can inspire them. That’s what forms a following and a community.
Have you had any mentors along the way?
Oh sure, our families, Marc McClusky, Johnny Minardi… Jameson, PBR. haha. No but seriously we all have enormous respect for the people mentioned.
What/who do you think changed the music industry? Why?
THE INTERNET. Because life is always changing. If it didn't we would be extinct.
What inspires and motivates you to still pursue a career in music?
Life fulfillment. It is the path we have chosen for ourselves. When you find something you want to do, you stick to it, you believe in it with all your heart and you never let go of it. Letting go of a career in music would be to let go of who we are on a very profound level.
Lastly, what are your favorite album releases, so far, from this year? What album releases are you most looking forward to be released this year?
Babel by Mumford and Sons, Some Nights by fun., The Heist by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, Battle Born by The Killers, What You Don't See by The Story So Far, Ex Lives by Every Time I Die, Red by Taylor Swift… but to be honest a few of our favorite records that we listen to almost every day came out one year prior in 2011. Mylo Xyloto by Coldplay, Simple Math by Manchester Orchestra, and The Season by All Get Out.