A conversation with Daniel Michalak of Bombadil

By James Dicus

September 5, 2015

With five full-length studio albums, countless festivals and a fair sum of marathon tours all within seven years, Bombadil has been making waves across the country in what some are calling the modern folk revival. Hailed as a punk pop band with poignant lyrics, Bombadil’s music tells an unmistakable story most often relatable yet always specific and vivid. With their recent success along with the release of their new album, as well as some potential challenges they’ve overcome with their recent line-up adjustments, Bombadil’s dedicated fan base is most eager to see what success the coming year has for them.

We had a chance to chat with Bombadil founding member Daniel Michalak.

Daniel Michalak

CLTure:  How much of what you guys write is based off personal experience?

Daniel Michalak: 110% – 10%!

CLTure: How do you guys balance your music with your personal and family lives?

DM: It is a challenge. Lots of fancy vacations, trying not to be gone on tour for more than two weeks at a time and bringing our spouses and partners along. There really is no balance, everything in our lives is just thrown into a big compost pile where it does its own thing.

CLTure: What other investments are most important/time consuming to you outside the band?

DM: Oh, I like investing! Berkshire Hathaway! The S&P 500. Emerging Market exposure. I like gardening. James devours podcasts and comics.

CLTure: My personal favorite off your new album is “Rhapsody in Black and White”. Is there a real story behind this song?

DM: Always a real story! This was a close friend I had a crush on in college. [I} never told her. We still talk. She bought the album, but I still don’t think she has figured it out.


CLTure: What other artists and styles have influenced your new album?

DM: I honestly don’t remember what I was listening to. Probably other Bombadil songs that didn’t make the record. However, we like to think of baristas as coffee artists and panang curry as a style we all can get behind.

CLTure: I never thought of you as a folk pop band. What are your thoughts on being labeled a part of this genre? Does your categorization matter much to you?

DM: We don’t like it. Our lack of being able to categorize ourselves has been a double-edged sword. We are different (which I guess is good?!) but it is hard to put in words. We would love to have a Wall Street marketing team on our side to help us make sense of what we are doing. I used to think categorization did not matter, but lately I have been thinking that the context of music and the story behind the music are integral to people liking or even finding the music.

Vintage Polaroid Photo by Jeff Howlett at the Triple C Folk Fest

CLTure: What’s been the greatest challenge in the wake of Stuart’s departure?

DM: Losing a close friend and excellent musician.

CLTure: What do you lead with when writing your music, lyrics, chords, or a steady inspirational beat?

DM: Lately, I have been trying to do a mix of all of these, but traditionally I start with the melody, then words, then chords, then powerful BEATS!

CLTure: Also what song do you feel most powerfully embodies the way you see the Bombadil legacy?

DM: Great question. Maybe songs such as Angeline (off Metrics of Affection) or Amy’s Friend, as both were super-collaborative.

CLTure: We’ll be at Hopscotch later this month. Where are some of the places you recommend us eating while we’re in Raleigh?

DM: Joule and The Morning Times for coffee. Sitti for great Lebanese food.

Daniel Machalak, James Philips

CLTure: Why do you guys incorporate French into some of your songs?

DM: First, my wife is French. Second, as a music listener, whenever I hear music in another language, my brain immediately gives the lyrics more weight, in an emotional and romantic sense, your imagination is all you have to decipher the lyrics. It adds a level of uncertainty that is often lacking from music in your native tongue.

CLTure: What are some of your favorite places to eat or visit while in Charlotte?

DM: Fuel Pizza, Independence Park, Old Settlers’ Cemetery, Noda, riding the light rail.

More about Bombadil.

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