Volume 96, Issue 90
Thursday, March 20, 2003

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Lawless Piano Man returns home to The Spoke

By Maggie Wrobel
Gazette Staff

Gazette file photo
HA! THAT'S NOT ART. Mike Lawless disdainfully diverts his eyes from a graffiti-tagged door.

Tonight, The Spoke is getting a little more Lawless.

Former University Students' Council president Mike Lawless makes his highly anticipated return to The Spoke tonight to perform original material he has composed over the last eight years.

"It's great," Lawless says of his return to his old stomping grounds. "I get to return and concentrate on music, something that I love to do. I'm glad to return in a more relaxed role, a role that I enjoy a little bit more."

As last year's USC president, Lawless rivalled former U.S. president Bill Clinton's prowess on the saxophone by performing Friday afternoons at The Spoke with his trusty piano. He believes his experience playing for Spoke audiences taught him a lot about entertaining.

"It was definitely an interesting experience," he recalls. "I found I was playing other people's music a lot more than my own, which helped me develop the entertainer side of being a musician. It also taught me to play in an environment where everyone wasn't necessarily listening so intently."

He likens those afternoons at The Spoke to his current Friday and Saturday night gig at the Rockwater Brewing Company in the Galleria mall. Lawless reveals that his residency at the popular downtown restaurant is becoming increasingly well-attended.

"In the beginning, we had 15 or 20 people attending regularly each week, and it's really becoming a regular spot for a big bunch of people," he says enthusiastically.

Lawless is excited that this regular gig finally allows him to play some of the original music that he's been consistently writing for almost a decade. He says that, while he wants to stay true to his artistic vision, he is also aware of a musician's responsibility to be a crowd pleaser.

"I know that if I want to make [music] a career, I have to strike a balance between the artistic side and the entertaining side. A lot of my songs include my personal feelings and things that I've taken directly from my life, and I hope that people will be able to relate to them. However, it's also important to me to play good melodies that will stick in people's heads the next day."

Lawless reveals that his career in politics is over for now, and that he's in the process of giving a career in music a proper shot. He has plans to record an EP in the near future and is currently applying for government grants to help fund this project.

You can't help but compare Lawless to Bill Clinton. After all, both juggled the roles of president and entertainer. However, Clinton also found time in his busy schedule to be a bona fide womanizer. Therefore, the question arises: did Lawless get more girls as USC president, or as the Piano Man?

"I've had friends ask me that!" he laughs good-naturedly. "Right now, I love making music, and anyone who knows me knows I want to be a rock star, but there aren't a ton of girls who are into the aspiring rock star."

Mike Lawless plays on campus at The Spoke tonight along with Dave Ford and DJ Shishah Fiend. The show is free and starts at 9:30 p.m..


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