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Interview:
Mike Posner flying high on first headlining tour
 

By GARY GRAFF
of the Oakland Press

» See more SOUND CHECK

Standing on stage in the Comerica Park parking lot during the Vans Warped Tour stop there in July, Mike Posner surveyed a hometown sea of bouncing fans that included many friends and family members.

“Man, the hair is standing up on my arms right now,” the 22-year-old told the gathering. “I promise I’m gonna remember this day for the rest of my ... life.”

If he has his way, of course, Posner, who was raised in Southfield and graduated from Wylie E. Groves High School before attending Duke University, will put many similar events in his memory bank.

During the summer, Posner was primarily known for “Cooler Than Me,” an infectious diss of a woman who thought she was, well, cooler than him, that reached No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Now he has an album, “31 Minutes to Takeoff,” that debuted at No. 8 on the Billboard 200 chart in August and has spawned a second single, “Please Don’t Go,” while Posner has hit the road on his first headlining tour, this time fronting a full band for the first time.

“I can’t complain,” Posner says with a laugh. “I made the album that I wanted to. My gratification comes every night, when I get to sing my songs and see people in the crowd sing them with me and realizing that they’ve made a connection. That’s pretty amazing.”

Posner is not, however, surprised that he’s able to headline so soon after his first album, citing a pair of well-circulated 2009 mixtapes — “A Matter of Time” and “One Foot Out the Door” — with building an audience that’s made sure “31 Minutes” did indeed take off. “Because of the mixtapes, I had done venues as big as this in the past and sold them out before my album came out,” he says.

And Posner is particularly pleased that he’s doing it with a band this time — which includes players “stolen” from Kanye West’s group — after spending most of his career so far as a one-man act working with keyboards, samplers and sequencers.

“We tear it ... down every night,” Posner crows. “All the energy that’s been a part of my show from the beginning, that’s still there. We’re just having a blast every night.

“Y’know, my dad was a Grateful Dead fan. He would always tell me, ‘Mike, the music I listen to all sounds better live. The artists I listen to, they’re much better when you go see ’em than their records. And the stuff you listen to, it all sounds way worse live than it does on the record.’

“So I always wanted to, as an artist, fall on that side of the equation and be an artist that could take my songs to the next level live and not just regurgitate the record but have songs sound better than they do on the album. And that’s what we’ve tried to put together here.”

“Next” is an active and operative term in Posner’s lexicon these days. After his current North American run, he has dates in Asia, Australia, New Zealand and Europe before appearing on the “American Music Awards” Nov. 21 and then playing radio station holiday shows in December. He’s also mapped time to hit the studio for his next album, which Posner actually started recording before “31 Minutes” was released.

“I’m experimenting with a lot of hip-hop producers,” reports Posner, who’s already worked with DJ Hi-Tek in Cincinnati and also plans to hunker down with Jake One and the Colorado electronic duo Pretty Lights and return to “31 Minutes” collaborator Benny Bianco. “It’ll be better than my first album ... just ’cause I’ve grown as a writer and producer and a singer.

“I know my best music is still ahead of me, so I can’t wait. I just look forward to making music that sounds different than anything else out there, and that usually means doing the opposite of what people expect.”



Mike Posner, Far East Movement, 2AM Club, Stephen Jerzak, Bad Rabbits and XV perform Saturday, Oct. 16, at the Fillmore Detroit, 2115 Woodward Ave. Tickets are $33, $89.75 for VIP and $90.80 for a four-pack. Call 313-961-5450 or visit www.livenation.com.

Web Site: www.livenation.com

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