An Interview with Mike Loughlin of Screaming Broccolli

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They always say you should shop local. You know…keep the corporate machine at bay. Well, the same goes for your local bands too. So, when I had the chance to interview one of NYC’s premier cover bands in Screaming Broccolli, I took it.

Screaming Broccolli hail from Staten Island, NY, and have been around since the mid-90s. They were born in the Grunge era but have managed to not only endure but thrive within their perspective scene. As a cover band, they’ve traveled the world and played some pretty incredible gigs. Along the way, they’ve been recognized by many publications as the top act within their realm.

Today, I’ve got the band’s frontman, Mike Loughlin, with us for a chat. We touch on the band’s early days in the Grunge scene, the origins of the band’s name, winning competitions singing Irish Folk songs, and much more. If you would like to learn more about Screaming Broccolli, head over to their website here. After that, check out this chat with Mike. Cheers.

Andrew:
Mike, thank you for taking the time to speak with us here. It’s been a weird year. What have you been doing to pass the time?

Mike:
Well, I would like to say thank you for thinking of us at this unprecedented time! It’s becoming extremely challenging for all of us, considered lifers in the cover band world. We basically are just trying to pass the time being home and staying with our immediate families trying to stay healthy and safe.

Andrew:
Tell us about your backstory? How did you get into music?

I got into music at a very young age listening to my parent’s records such as Elvis, The Beatles, Johnny Cash, etc. We had this big huge record player, I would see them on television throw on the record and try to mimic them as best I could, but they are still pretty tough acts to follow.

Andrew:
What are some of your earliest memories associated with music?

Mike:
When I was a kid, my mother would enter me in these amateur competitions in the Catskills every year, when we would go away on our family vacations in the summer months, but it was very Irish oriented, so it wasn’t what I was listening to at home on that big record player. They were Irish folk songs, more or less, but looking back and listening to those songs now and actually winning prizes for singing them is something that I will always remember and cherish.

Andrew:
Tell us how Screaming Broccoli came together. How did the members meet and form the band? What’s the origin story, so to speak?

Mike:
We were all musicians that knew each other well, and it was the years of the Grunge era. We started out doing material from the Chili Peppers, Smashing Pumpkins, Blind Melon, Pearl Jam, and wanted to come up with a silly name around the artists we had been covering. A friend of mine mentioned Screaming Broccoli sort of as a joke, that was 1994, and here we still are.

Andrew:
Which bands and artists have had the biggest influences on Screaming Broccoli as a band?

Mike:
I’m a big fan of all kinds of music and bands. It’s not just one thing for me, from Elvis to Billy Joe,l to Johnny Cash, to The Beatles, to the Hairband days of Bon Jovi and KISS, to incredible singers like Chris Cornell from Soundgarden and Eddie Vedder from Pearl Jam. I love all genres of music and bands, and I believe I’m speaking for all of us.

Andrew:
You guys are pretty well known for your ability to cover a wide range of artists. What lead you guys to want to go in that direction?

Mike:
Well, the Grunge thing basically died out. If we were going to do this the right way and get on the circuit and be competitors, we had to branch out and do all different fun and energetic material, and that’s what we did and still do.

Andrew:
As a cover band, how do you ensure the music sounds authentic?

Mike:
When you have great players that know their positions, you don’t worry about it so much; it just sounds authentic. Everyone does their part.

Andrew:
How do you put your setlists
together? How do you keep your catalog up to date? As a cover band, it’s got to be something of an endless task in terms of learning new music while maintaining the classics at the same time.

Mike:
I used to think like that, but when you are doing this for a long time, you sort of know what works and what doesn’t. You try new things to see if they work, but if they don’t, we know by the crowd. So, you either scratch it or keep it in the mix. But we work so many different venues and events; for example, we are not going to necessarily play Metallica at a couple’s wedding unless that is their thing, it just won’t work, and it’s not usually the venue for it. You would basically pull a song out like that for the proper venue, like a jersey shore gig. You still have to make it fun when writing out a set, but you have to be careful in what goes into that set at that event, and we pretty much have that down to a science, but it took a few years to get it that way. Also, I have to give credit to my bass player, Gary Ryan, who always writes out a kickin’ setlist.

Andrew:
SiLive.com named Screaming Broccolli “The Best Cover Band” in 2014 and 2016. How gratifying was that for you?

Mike;
That was extremely gratifying to be around as long as we have and still be considered one of the best cover bands years after we started Screaming Broccolli.

Image Credit: Steven Trooskin Photography

Andrew:
Are you into vinyl? Tapes? CDs? Or are you all digital now? Like me, you’re from NY. Are there any shops here you like to frequent?

Mike:
When I have to learn new material for the band, I like to listen to it on a CD and take a ride in my car. I have been learning like that for years, so I like to burn a CD and listen. I’m a little old school. [Laughs].

Andrew:
What are a few albums that mean the most to you and why?

Mike:
Slippery When Wet and the New Jersey album from Bon Jovi. Those stand out for me because they remind me of growing up and having fun with your friends.

Andrew:
Once COVID-19 is done with us, what’s next for Screaming Broccoli?

Mike:
Just not accepting the new norm and getting back out there, and doing what we all love to do; playing live shows.

Andrew:
Last question. You guys have been at it a long time. Looking back, what are some of your fondest and proudest memories as a band?

Mike:
I want to say; in my opinion, it was the weddings we did overseas, in Italy. It was a far cry from The Wave on Bay Street or the Blue Willow, some of the bars we started out playing at. To be hired for a wedding, in that beautiful country, more than once and having that experience; it’s a very special feeling.

Interested in learning more about the work of Screaming Broccolli? Check out the link below:

Dig this interview? Check out the full archives of Vinyl Writer Interviews, by Andrew Daly, here: www.vinylwritermusic.com/interview

About Post Author

Andrew Daly

Since he was a young child growing up on Long Island, NY, Andrew has always loved writing and collecting physical music. Present-day, Andrew is proud to share his love of music with the world through his writing, and the result is nothing short of beautiful: articles and interviews written by a music addict for fellow music addicts. Andrew lives on Long Island and works as a Horticultural Operations Manager by day and runs the Vinyl Writer Music website by night.
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