Rockford Rocked Interviews: Mike Nelson
By Todd Houston
Exclusive to TRRT
RRI: What has Mike Nelson been up to?
Mike Nelson: I’m in Florida, married to Bridgette Goodreau Nelson. I drive an entertainer bus for RN Entertainment and hold a 100 ton captain’s license. I’m the captain of a boat where I run charter and fishing trips. Captain Ringo is my given name.
RRI: What music are you currently grooving to these days? (What’s in your MP3 player)?
Mike Nelson: I have an itouch and never knew it was an MP3 player and I just got one of those little Apple things. I am clueless when it comes to this stuff. I listen to a variety of music from UFO to Dwight Yocum.
RRI: Do you remember the first record you ever bought?
Mike Nelson: Growing up we had a jukebox in the house so my dad was always changing the tunes on that, and my oldest sister always had some pretty cool records so I never bought too much. The earliest I can remember was maybe 6th grade, a girl won an album at a dance and she didn’t want it. It looked really cool and I had to have it. I gave her three bucks and it was mine. It was the Pat Travers Band and I was hooked.
RRI: What bands were you involved with here in the greater Rockford area back in the day?
Mike Nelson: High School would have been Idol Dice. We played tons of clubs and I learned a lot. Then White Rose and Ript I guess.
RRI: Let’s talk about the band RIPT. Tell us how this band came to be and who were the original members.
Mike Nelson: Greg Utley, Mark Adamany, Wally Hauck, Gregg DeCarlo, Mike Bracket, Ian Serrano and Steve Moriarity were some of the members.
RRI: Singer Steve Moriarity was known for his wild antics on and off the stage. Did these antics ultimately get him fired from RIPT?
Mike Nelson: Wild antics on or off stage would never get you put out of Ript. That’s the way we were. Steve was a good singer. Next question please. (laughs)
RRI: You guys were sometimes known for playing at some shady taverns and bars across the Midwest. Any Blues Brothers’ type stories to share?
Mike Nelson: Yeah man, we played some real crappy places, too many to remember them all. There really were a lot of fights, drinking, etc. Not enough time to get into.
RRI: Was it embarrassing opening for the all girl band Vixen in 1989?
Mike Nelson: No. Not at all. It was a really cool gig I thought. We always felt that if we were playing, to us we were headlining. I remember doing an interview with WXRX that same day and recall something being said by (bassist) Greg Utley that got us in a bit of trouble. (laughs)
RRI: Rumor has it you liked to rule the band with an iron fist and even dictate what certain band members wore on stage. Any truth to this?
Mike Nelson: It was more what NOT to wear. We were all guilty of wearing some pretty stupid stuff on stage at one time or another. It wasn’t about ruling the band. It was about someone trying to keep everyone in some kind of order. None of us were real good at behaving, myself included. At one point or another alcohol, bail, etc was taking up a lot of our money. We just needed to check ourselves from time to time.
RRI: Most of the band lived together in a house dubbed “The RIPT HOUSE” – what was that like?
Mike Nelson: The RIPT house was awesome. It was Dan Beck’s (our light man and best buddies house). It was a great place that we all lived at some point or another. We met there before all local shows and had A LOT of great times. Dan really was the 6th member of Ript. He helped everyone out so many times. It just wouldn’t be a Ript show without Dan giving good advice and running the light board, upon which he passed out on more than once.
RRI: Over the years people have asked why RIPT broke up. Was it because of the emergence of Grunge music and bands like Nirvana? Please elaborate.
Mike Nelson: All that didn’t help I’m sure. But I’m pretty sure it was my fault to be completely honest. We had been on the road a long time and DeCarlo wasn’t in the band anymore. New guitarist PK was awesome but our writing changed and that was very frustrating to me. The chemistry had been tampered with and things just didn’t feel the same. Wally, Smut, Ian, and “Ton Load” ( DeCarlo ) and me was the best line up we had. We were a 3 chord hammer it out kind of band. As individuals not so good, as a band we rocked. It all felt right when we were together. So I guess you can say DeCarlo screwed it all up when he left. (laughs)
RRI: What is your take on the current state of the record industry today? Do you think bands will ever be able to actually sell CD’s again?
Mike Nelson: Confusing. I’m on the road a lot year after year and see first hand what’s going on. Times are changing and I believe CDs will soon be a thing of the past if they aren’t already.
RRI: What, if push comes to shove, is your all-time favorite album?
Mike Nelson: UFO, “Strangers in the Night.”
RRI: At the end of the day what does Mike Nelson want to be remembered for?
Mike Nelson: Who knows? I know what I know and people are gonna think what they want to think. I just want to say thanks to the extended RIPT family. Pat Phillips, Todd Fremoth, Jim McDowell and everyone who has been such great friends to us through the years. Thanks to you Todd and to all the Ripsters for all the support. See ya’ll soon. IF IT DON’T FIT!