“Well not really going anywhere, safe, no trauma but would like to be doing better.” Mike Grogan is giving me a snapshot opinion over the phone on his beloved Portsmouth FC, not his musical career.

'Make Me Strong', his second album, has provided a platform to move forward with a direction and purpose. Although the album was released during the early part of 2014 its release was “soft”, Grogan explains.

“We were very happy with the album but decided its release should be without fanfare. Partly I wasn’t in a position to get involved with a tour and interviews, etc. Most of my previous material has been self-released, self-financed, so when I met with Mark Tucker who produced the album he knew what was required as an end product. He produced numerous albums for Show of Hands who I’ve always rated highly. I was delighted when Phil (Beer) and Miranda (Sykes) from the band agreed to provide support on the album. With the addition of Spencer Cozens and Phil Henry we had a very special selection of musicians.”

“Reaction to the album and certain songs has been very good. We decided to release it again earlier this year but with more PR and label support through James Soars and Poacher Records.”

“One of the things I wanted to improve was my profile. You know, get my name known in wider circles, get more airplays and general reaction to the songs. We are setting up a late summer UK tour. At present I tend to perform on my own, basically folk clubs around the south coast. Unfortunately getting a full band to play at small venues isn’t financially viable. So it tends to be me and my guitars at present.”

Grogan is a man who works at his own pace. He’s a craftsman. Over the years he’s mastered a wide range of instruments: acoustic guitar, electric guitar, tenor guitar, mandolin, piano and harmonica. From punk bands to acoustic sets, folk clubs and now sitting somewhere between Folk and singer-songwriter, he seems to have finally found his own voice.

An indication of direction, quality and content was apparent on 'My Brave Soldier', a five song EP released in July 2014 commemorating the outbreak of WW1.

'Make Me Strong' is well thought out in terms of arrangement and lyrical content. None more so than when he conveys a detailed history and recognition of how hard certain figures have fought for social justice and inequalities to be changed. 'One Grain of Love' celebrates Gandhi’s march to the sea in protest at British rule in India. The altruist John Pounds (song of the same title) has his personal misfortunes and lifelong crusade to provide a better education for the children of Portsmouth explained in heartfelt detail.

I ask why so many songs carry historical and social themes?

“I’ve always liked history, what people have achieved, the sacrifices they’ve made. When I find a story I tend to do a lot of research. The John Pounds Society here in Portsmouth have endorsed the song which has really pleased me. I spent a lot of time making sure the details and fact were right for a man who achieved so much for children of the area. One of the tracks, 'Nelson’s Blood', was picked up by The Nelson’s Society magazine who had some nice things to say about the song. It’s important people understand the narrative is factual. They aren’t made up stories. It’s how certain people lived their lives for causes they believed in,” he says with sincerity.

Grogan is a broad church. He has taken a decision to put his time and external resources into becoming something more than a south coast folk singer.

So if we chat again later in the year, what would you have hoped to achieve in 2015?

“Ideally that’s very simple,” he says. "I want to get the UK tour organised. A new album is being discussed and I have new ideas and themes which I’m playing around with at present. Jim and I agree the next album needs to be released with bigger coordination of gig dates and interviews so people know what to expect and where they can see me play.”

Throughout the interview it’s clear he feels this is now his time. All the components are in place for Grogan to get his music out to a wider audience. Unlike his beloved Pompey, the glory years could well be ahead for Mike Grogan.

To quote the man himself, “Time is precious, sow the seed.”










Related Links:

http://www.mikegrogan.co.uk/
https://twitter.com/mikegroganmusic
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mike-Grogan/344450119026830


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