By Todd Houston
Exclusive to TRRT
Rockford Rocked Interview: You’ve been playing drums in some very popular local area bands for quite some time now. How did you get your start in music in general?
Mike Bunjan: I’ve played drums since I was a kid. I played in a couple bands in high school, but took a break until I was out of college so I could focus on my design career. I moved to Rockford from Chicago in 1987 and immediately started seeking out the local live music scene. I met a guy by the name of Brent Shelton and little did I know that would be the key to my musical future. He was forming a new band, Essie Ecks, and I was in the right place at the right time. We played our asses off all over the state for several years. Then, when For Christ Sake needed a drummer, I auditioned and got the gig. Again, I was meeting more musicians that would become life-long friends and very important to me. For Christ Sake were on the tail end of their deal with Gary Taylor, but I was still able to play and record for a year or so. When that ended, there were pieces of those two bands, plus several others (Sarkoma, Pandemonium Carnival) floating around. We all stayed in touch and had various jam sessions. Those sessions evolved into Fluid Oz. That band was wild and free and again we played relentlessly. Agent Zero and 420 followed. I am currently drumming for the Hilly Jones band.
RRI: You seem to be quite versatile as far as musical styles of playing. Did you listen to a lot of different styles of music growing up?
MB: I grew up in the ’70s and ’80s, so yes, my musical tastes are all over the place.
RRI: You seem to be the one of the “go to” guys when a band needs a fill in drummer for a gig. What was the least amount of time that you had to prepare for a gig like that? It must be nerve racking to play songs you’ve never played before in front of an audience.
MB: There are so many incredible drummers here and I’m honored to be thought of as a “go to” guy, especially in this town. Not sure what the shortest prep time was, but it’s more exciting than nerve racking to play with a new group for the first time.
RRI: The music industry has undergone drastic changes since the advent of widespread digital distribution of music via the Internet. Having said that; a lot of people are rediscovering analog recordings and buying up used vinyl and tape. Where do you fall into the mix?
MB: I definitely use digital music more than vinyl. I’m always on the go, so it’s a matter of convenience. I think there’s a lot more depth and warmth to vinyl, but rarely do I have the time to just chill and drop the needle. I miss that actually.
RRI: Tell us about your business Bunj Killer Creative and what it’s all about.
MB: Bunj Killer Creative is the extension of my graphic design career. After co-founding and working at MedicineMan for 20 years, it was time to move on and now I work independently. The projects I work on have always varied wildly and that continues today. I do everything from traditional print collateral, to digital design and illustration, video, and to everything in-between. My clientele ranges greatly, which is how I like it.
RRI: Is it difficult being the owner/operator of a small business in this day and age? What are some of the obstacles you’ve had to overcome thus far?
MB: Yes, it’s difficult, because the landscape of the business and the markets I serve changes constantly. Being a one-man army is also tough. You have to do everything from sales, to the work itself, the billing, etc. It’s a lot to keep moving at a consistent pace. Plus, everyone has the capability to produce a printed page these days, so convincing people that you know a better way and that the time and experience you have has worth, is an on-going challenge.
RRI: I’m going to say a word or phrase and you answer with the first thing that pops into your head.
RRI: Favorite Saturday night album?
MB: Jamiroquai / Synkronized
RRI: Rock stars dropping like flies in 2016.
MB: Oh man. I’m just glad I’ve been alive during the period in time when these artists were creating music.
RRI: Mary Ann or Ginger?
MB: As a kid, I would say Mary Ann, but now, definitely Ginger!
RRI: The Black Crowes.
MB: One of my favorite bands.
RRI: Ludwig or Pearl drums?
RRI: Reservoir Dogs (Movie).
MB: Another one of my favorites!
RRI: What’s next for Mike Bunjan?
MB: Never sure exactly. I’m just constantly moving forward. I always have a number of irons in the fire. Musically, Hilly Jones is getting ready to release a CD this spring/summer. Bunj Killer Creative is pushing into some new and exciting territory, and I’ve been expanding my skills in sales at Lonnie’s Carpet Max. It’s never too late to teach an old dog some new tricks!