music morsels indie music October 2006 

by Mark E. Waterbury

Darren Wilsey

ARTIST NAME:  Robert Allen Mycko
MUSICAL GENRE: Country/folk singer/songwriter
# OF CDs SOLD:  450 (CD has been out 2 weeks)
FAN BASE: Several thousand worldwide

MW: How did you get started in music?

RAM: At church actually. I became involved with their music program, and I found out that I can sing. Then I got into percussion and started playing drums, and did a couple garage bands when I was younger. Then when I got into my mid to late 20’s I decided to pick up the guitar. I focused on self-teaching myself how to play and that is also when I started writing songs. Learning to play guitar seemed to come easily for me.

MW: Do you feel it was a natural progression when you began writing songs?

RAM: It was definitely natural. I had all these lyrics and ideas, and I just started writing them down. That is one of the main reasons I picked up the guitar, because I needed to put music to my words.

MW: What inspired your music in your early songwriting?

RAM: Probably girlfriends. Then later on, struggling for jobs, and more recently, world events and personal conflicts. Many of my songs are based on stories that other people tell me, and sometimes I will take the stories and change them around to how I want them to end. I would work the songs out on a four-track and then I would perform them at local places like coffee houses and singer/songwriter nights.

MW: Do you feel those experiences gave you a taste for performing and recording that you wanted to pursue further?

RAM: Yes, it really did. I did grow a local fan base and a lot of my family and friends would come. I would play at my friends' picnics and parties over the years. More recently, I have been playing bigger local events and venues, and since the press hit for my song “You’re My American Hero”, things have gotten very big.

MW: Let’s talk about “You’re My American Hero.” The inspiration behind that song is obvious, but how did that all come about?

RAM: I was watching the news and I saw that another soldier from Connecticut got killed. And it just hit me and disturbed me and it was on my mind. I was already in the process of recording my debut CD and I went to work next day still thinking about what I saw on the news. At work, there was a care package that was going to soldiers in Iraq, and on the list to send over there was music. So I wanted to finish some demos and make some CDs to get them in that box, I thought about it and realized I wanted to write a song for these guys. That is how “You’re My American Hero” was born, and I didn’t want to write the kind of song like the ones that had already been done. I wanted it to be more family oriented and focus on the family aspect of what people left behind have lost as well when their loved ones go overseas to fight. That is how it all came about, and I did get the CD in the care package. I worked it out very quickly in the studio and recorded it in one night and burned some CDs. I also, in the process, sent it out to some of my friends who were interested in my new recordings, and somehow a Marine got ahold of it. He asked a friend of mine if he could play the song at the wedding for his wife. Of course that was a huge honor, and then it ended up with a local TV news station. They asked me to come in for an interview, and it started snowballing from there. My state representative asked me to perform the song for all the lawmakers at the state capitol, and then it got even bigger.

MW: You wrote this song from the heart. Did you have any idea it would gain the notice it has?

RAM: I had no idea. I mean in the back of your mind you always hope that this is the song that can do something for you, and that hope is with there every time I am writing something. But I had no idea it was going to have this kind of impact.

MW: Has anyone thrown anything negative at you suggesting you are only doing this song to get attention or anything like that?

RAM: I have not had anything like that happen yet. Working in music and having people critique your songs, you have to develop thick skin, and you realize that not everyone will like everything. It is not a political song, so I did not think I would get any political backlash out of it. It is a bipartisan song, and I think when it comes to the betterment of this country, the thinking should be bipartisan. The day I played it in front of the state legislature, everybody was united and that was a great feeling.

MW: Of course the song is on the new CD along with all the other songs you wrote. Beyond riding the crest of any wave “...Hero” creates, what other marketing plans do you have to get your music out there?

RAM: Right now I have a personal manager who is working a lot of different angles for promoting the CD. We actually have made radio commercials about the CD and where to buy it. I have a PR company that I hired to help me, and those are a few of the ways I am trying to do this. I am using the internet a lot, with both a dot com site and a myspace site. Myspace is one of the better ways to market it, because people tell me my player has a lot of hits on it. I get a lot of emails from fans saying how “...Hero” has touched them because they have a loved one deployed overseas.

MW: With everyone getting touched by “...Hero”, do you also find them turning on to the other songs on your CD?

RAM: Yes, I have received great feedback from several other songs. “What’s Mine Is Mine.” “I’ve Just Gotta Be With You” and "Dangerous Girl” are some of the songs I have received great feedback on. The CD was reviewed by the Backporch Show in Oregon, and one of the things they said is that there isn’t a bad track on the whole CD, there is nothing to skip. They compared “...Hero” to the Lee Greenwood song, and said it could become bigger than that song. I have had tremendous amounts of positives and have had nothing negative about it yet.

MW: You recently played in Nashville. How did that go?

RAM: The reason I went down there is I have been working with this song plugging company called Jim and Joe’s Music to see if there are any other artists interested in performing or recording “...Hero.” I had a phone call about a week and a half ago about an artist that was interested in doing a duet with me on the song. So I went down to Nashville to showcase and to meet him and see what the situation would be. I also did a songwriters night and they guys from Jim and Joe’s Music came to the show and were very happy with the performance.

MW: Do you feel your music would fit with the corporate country music atmosphere in Nashville?

RAM: I think everything is cyclical, and I think the more Americana-based country is becoming commercially popular again. I listened to the local commercial country station in Nashville when I was there and I heard it tilting more in the direction of what I am writing. It may have a lot to do with the fact that the internet has become so prominent. Ten years ago songs like mine may not have gotten out there. Nashville could be changing the way they put things out. “...Hero” is a special song, but I do have songs on my CD that are more pop, and others that are more traditional. I really wanted to showcase all my different writing abilities, and that is how I chose the songs to go on the CD.

MW: Would you rather see success as a songwriter having someone else record and perform your music; yourself recording and performing your own music and making hits out of them, or would you rather just go with the flow and see where it takes you?

RAM:  That is a question that has been going through my head a lot lately. I am going to take it and see how it goes. Right now, if someone told me that a major artist wanted to record “...Hero” and could take it to the top, I would never turn that down. Songs are like your children, you want them to grow up and become big, (Laughs) As far as getting out there as a songwriter, I would love to do that. That has always been my intention with this whole thing. Then the focus changed over to me as an artist after releasing the demo of “...Hero.” It would be great to do both, to stay out and perform and write songs for other. But then my family would be living my songs, so there are sacrifices to consider also.

MW: What type of success level would you like to see, and what will it take to get there?

RAM:  If I could make a living and also maybe change the world a little bit with something I wrote, I’m a winner. With all the attention and everything I have received for “...Hero”, I feel successful with it, but it still needs to feed my family. If I can make a decent living and take care of everyone, I call that success. I think what needs to happen is the CD needs major distribution. Maybe a record label picking it up and re-recording it and releasing it. I am definitely looking for someone to say they want to jump in on this and they can do something with it. Someone with the clout and the juice to really do it. It also needs to get major FM radio play; more people need to hear it. I think the more people that hear it, the more they will want to go out and buy it. And if it also makes them think, that would be great.

Division of Serge Entertainment Group