Mike Clark's advice for aspiring musicians? "Don't do it." Then he laughs. Mike Clark '88 is a rock musician in the truest sense of the word. As the guitarist in the Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, he packs his bag every few months, leaves his home in Portland, Oregon and hits the road. It's grueling, but Mike wouldn't have it any other way.
Fresh from a performance on KEXP radio in Seattle, Mike and I met before his concert later that evening. He has spent the last ten years playing and recording with the Jicks, performing all over the United States and Europe as well as in Australia, South America, Japan, and Iceland. He describes traveling as a musician as one of the best ways to see the world.
Mike was a Bush "lifer" and fondly remembers his Eighth Grade graduation in 1984 when he and Warren Capell '88 performed their original composition "Graduation." He was electrified by the experience. "I remember it like it was yesterday. I was totally inspired by this chance to collaborate." At Bush Mike was surrounded by music. Among others, he remembers looking up to Al Anderson '81, a talented Bush musician who recorded with his band, Pop Defect. He vividly remembers taking a harmonica class and accompanying Dana (Wasserman) Wooton '88 at their senior Baccalaureate.
Mike attended Reed College in Oregon and soon integrated himself into the Portland music scene. While working at the Multnomah County Library in Oregon, Mike wondered: should he go back to school and get his degree in library science? Then an opportunity to tour came up and the decision made itself. Nothing compared to making music, and performing. Graduate school would have to wait.
Today, making music for a living is hard. Mike explains, "Nobody buys music, so everyone tours. But Mike is lucky because the Jicks have a dedicated fan base and they always get a lot of attention. “We try new things, we mix it up, and the people with whom I play are talented and good at what they do. We still rely on instruments and a bit of attitude."
As Mike heads off for a sound check, he acknowledges that he is doing just what he wants to be doing. "I may regret when I'm 60, but I guess when that happens, I can always revisit graduate school.” And with that he is off to make music with the band.