RRI: You and your bands The Rude Boys and Robin Banks were a big part of the early ’80s music scene here in Rockford, IL. Before we get ahead of ourselves first tell us how and why you got into music in the first place.
MB: My dad was a singer and guitar player. I grew up listening to him and naturally wanted to follow in his footsteps. I was also influenced by arguably the best bands and era of music of all time, up to this point in time and I wanted to be like them.
RRI: Where were the best clubs to play at when you first started playing out live?
MB: CJ’s Lounge, Great Illinois Purchase, Prairie Moon, Off Broadway, Plaza Suite and later Park Place. Let’s not forget about Beloit, which was a good outlet for us, starting with Sgt. Peppers and the Pier!
RRI: I recall seeing Robin Banks perform at the annual Mother’s Day concert (Rockford Speedway) in front of a huge crowd! Do you remember anything about that particular show?
MB: I honestly don’t remember much about that show except that my dad was there, right up front, which was a rare thing! It was a great crowd and a beautiful sunny day, I do remember that much. I believe the headliner was Art in America.
RRI: A short time ago I spoke with Brent Alberts (former Y95 Program Director) about the good old days of Rockford radio. He told me that he was involved with managing Robin Banks early on and mentioned that you guys did a video for the WYFE Y95 Radio Vision show. What was that like?
MB: We did three Radio Vision videos, two with the original Robin’ Banks lineup. It was a blast! For all three videos we performed original tunes. Brent was always a great help to Robin’ Banks and to other bands in our music community as well.
RRI: More recently you were involved in a project with Rick Pemperton. Reports say that you gave the mic up to Holland Zander. Thoughts?”
MB: I was the original singer and one of the founding members of the Sensations. It was really cool to work with Rick, he is a great guitar player and a nice guy. When I stepped out, the band got better when Holland stepped in. She has the talent, energy and “essence” the band needed to move forward. Great band!
RRI: Rumor has it that one of your former bands had all their equipment stolen at one point! Did you ever recover anything?
MB: This goes way back to the Arctic Waste Band. The thieves chiseled through the brick to gain entry and robbed us blind. It was honestly heart breaking for all of us.
RRI: Please elaborate on the following if you would: Superstring Studios.
MB: I built a pro-audio recording studio called Superstring Studios. I did the best I could with the design, outboard gear and mic collection. I have been tracking a few local and regional bands, as my time allows, pro bono. The studio allows me to stay active in music and to support and enjoy the creativity of others, which is really cool! The studio keeps me creative as well.
RRI: Harley Davidson motorcycles.
MB: I don’t know much about Harley Davidson motorcycles although I do own a Road King. I don’t consider myself a biker. I am a musician with a motorcycle. Motor Bikin’!
RRI: David Spencer (local musician).
MB: David (Davey Love) has to be one of the coolest guys in this town and he is a nice guy! That’s a unique combo!
RRI: The Great Illinois Purchase (former Rockford club).
MB: What a live music club should be! The constant stench of stale beer and cigarettes and a really cool stage that had a trampoline effect! You could bounce all over the place…I loved it! The dressing rooms were pure Rock & Roll, painted flat black and seedy to the core!
RRI: Off Broadway (band).
MB: One of my favorite bar bands of all time right up there with Cheap Trick! I have both of their discs in my car right now.
RRI: Where can we go to hear new music from Michael Banks?
MB: I have been working on a new record, although I am not ready to release anything to the public, yet…maybe this fall. When I do it will be available for free downloads.
RRI: Anything else we should know about?
MB: I am proud to be a Rockford musician and to be part of the current musical community history. We should all be proud. This is a great town for music, past and present. So many people are knocking Rockford right now, we can always find the bad if that’s what we are looking for it but that doesn’t mean the good no longer exists. Rockford has a lot to offer music lovers. Thanks for Rockford Rocked, it’s a really cool thing and is waking people up to who we were and who we are. You are doing a really cool thing here!