Hi Mikala. Where for you is the most rock ‘n’ roll city on earth?

Mikala Taylor

Well, I lived in London, England for a little over six years, and what I loved about that insane city is that there was an embarrassment of musical riches.

One minute I was dancing at a fundraiser in a big club next to Keith Flint from the Prodigy while Massive Attack DJ’d upstairs and Daft Punk were downstairs, the next I was standing in front of (or, as the case always was, walking past on the street) Jarvis Cocker from Pulp at a Primal Scream show!

And then there was all the actual ticketed gigs, interviews, listening parties and random DJ nights in smaller pubs. I loved shows at the Brixton Academy, and the Astoria when it was around. And Camden’s Electric Ballroom and Underground were also rad. There was/is so much choice, which is why I was always skint there…and hungover!

As a self-confessed gig-addict, are you have any particular venues where you most like to see live shows?

For bigger shows, I have to say that I love the Commodore Ballroom in my new hometown of Vancouver, British Columbia.

I hate that they charge a fortune for shitty beer, but I love that even when it’s sold out, it doesn’t feel claustrophobic (as the Brixton Academy does when it’s oversold), and that there’s tons of bars and a bouncing floor (there’s horsehair and rubber tires under the wooden floor so you can actually feel the floor bounce when the crowds go wild!).

For smaller shows, and because I can always meet the band that’s playing there – a key thing for a real music obsessive like myself – my favourites are Vancouver’s Biltmore Cabaret, Seattle’s Tractor Tavern, Copenhagen’s Lille Vega, London’s Scala, or the Mercury Lounge in New York City.

Do you have a favourite album or a series of albums which you like to play when out on a road trip?

Mikala likes the Easy Rider soundtrack for a roadtrip

Yeah, but I tend to fly more places than I road trip, and when I fly I like to chill out.

I have favourites that I always fall back on: Midlake’s Courage of Others, Massive Attack’s Mezzanine, David Sylvian’s Secrets of the Beehive, Foals’ Total Life Forever, The New Folk Implosion album, Grandaddy, that kind of thing.

But for rock ‘n’ roll road trips, I find that good, loud, cheesy stuff does the trick for me. So I often haul out some old music by The Cult, Alice Cooper, The Damned or the Easy Rider soundtrack. And I have a huge love for this electro album by a band called Futureshock, which has some banging tunes on it!

Finally, I like to listen to a lot of camp stuff: The Gossip, Scissor Sisters, The Hives. And I never go anywhere without my Sebadoh/Dinosaur Jr. playlists!

Have you had any particularly memorable road trip/travel experiences?

Oh God, that’s tough. Everything I do, is kinda wrapped up in music. I try to fit it in on every trip.

For rock ‘n’ roll road trips, I find that good, loud, cheesy stuff does the trick. 

I have decided this year to go all out and combine music with travel – there’s nothing better than getting a taste of new places and at the end of the day seeing one of your favourite bands perform – and I am very fortunate to work with indie rock legends Sebadoh.

This year I travelled with them to shows in San Francisco, Portland, Seattle and back home to Vancouver (where they stayed on my floor) and just got back from three dates in Germany with the band. Pretty cool stuff.

And on the total other end of the spectrum, driving to Redmond, WA to see Duran Duran a year or two ago with a friend, was damn fun. I also love going down to Seattle for shows. Last time I combined the Nirvana exhibit at the EMP with a Twilight Singers gig at the Showbox, and I even met Greg Dulli again briefly, 17 years or so since I’d last hung out with him!

Have you ever been on any rock ‘n’ roll pilgrimages?

Mikala has visited Jim Morrison’s grave in Paris

I’m so obsessed with live gigs that I kind of think that everything I do that involves music in a city that I don’t live in, is a pilgrimage. It’s a big effort to figure out a new city and go to a new venue, or go on your own, and to try and meet new people. But it’s so much fun.

I have, however, gone out of my way to visit Jim Morrison’s grave in Paris, and I once had an absolutely amazing, personalised tour of Liverpool with all The Beatles highlights.

I got to see a side of The Beatles’ city that the big tour buses don’t get to see – and I will never forget the time I was standing outside a church hall where John Lennon had played his first show with The Quarrymen.

It wasn’t open to the public, ever, but a woman with a Girl Guides troupe or something came out, and our guide and her started chatting and she let us into the hall. I stood on the stage where McCartney saw Lennon play as teenagers. It was wonderful. She also invited our group (of six) back to her house for a beer, totally randomly. And I bought a bottle of wine on Penny Lane which was brilliant!

Finally, do you have a dream trip for the future?

Any time I get to travel and see bands or musicians I love, I am grateful and feel blessed.

I’d really like to spend more time exploring New York and Brooklyn, and see more gigs there. And I keep saying I wanna do SXSW (South By South West festival in Austin, Texas) but it seems so expensive and so overwhelming.

And while I wouldn’t exactly call it a “dream trip,” I will be going on perhaps the “most absurd trip” in January 2012, when I travel from Miami to Cozumel, Mexico aboard ‘The Weezer Cruise’ in which I get four days of ridiculousness.

I get to hang out with Weezer, Dinosaur Jr, Lou Barlow, Sebadoh, Yuck, The Antlers, Wavves, Nervous Wreckords and more. I have never wanted to write about anything so bizarre in my life, so that should be fascinating to be a part of. I will go broke as a result of it, but hey, it’s rock ‘n’ roll right?

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