I had the wonderful opportunity to speak with Texan alternative rock band City Of Auburn’s frontman, Michael Osborn. A complete and utter Star Wars nerd (I mean, who isn’t?) and an accredited singer/songwriter, Michael has been gracing the Texas scene with his presence since his childhood. We chatted about his background in music, his struggles as a previous solo artist, and what’s next for the revamped City Of Auburn.
Ouch That Hertz!: So, first, tell us a bit about yourself!
Michael: Well hi! My name is Michael. I sing for City of Auburn. I’m 20 years old, currently a college student. I’ve had a beard since 6th grade. I’ve been playing music for as long as I could remember and I’ve been involved in so many bands. I’m a total nerd; Star Wars is pretty much my favorite thing ever. Dogs are better than cats; Chipotle over Freebirds.
OTH!: So, Michael, how did you get your start in vocal music and performance? What made you realize that alternative rock was what you wanted to play?
Michael: I’ve always wanted to sing in a band ever since I was little, but I think I was 16 when it really started to develop. I played in this metal band on drums, and I did background vocals here and there. I had to write some choruses for the album, and that really kind of started it for me. I began to sing a lot more boldly then I did before, and I was really discovering what I could do as a vocalist. I’ve just been growing from there. Alternative rock is a really amazing genre. For me, it gives me so much room to be expressive. It’s something that everyone can bang their head to, and everyone has a chance to sing along. There’s as much depth to the music as there is fun. I just love it.
OTH!: As I understand it, City Of Auburn was originally just your solo project. I know being a solo artist can be exceptionally difficult and disheartening when your music gets overlooked; I’m glad you weren’t discouraged by it and decided to continue on with a fully-fledged band! But, if you don’t mind me asking, could you expound on your time as just a solo artist? What were some of the difficulties that you faced that are now more eased or solved with COA as a full-band?
Michael: I mean I think one of the hardest things about doing something solo is really the obvious fact that you are alone. You write everything, you record everything, you pay for everything, you market yourself alone, there’s just no help. I remember that when I was writing, I couldn’t ask for a second opinion because there was no one there. I was always pretty sad that live shows could never happen with me alone. It was definitely frustrating, but I never hated it. It’s never been better now to have people behind you giving suggestions and wanting to help with everything. We can now play live as a band, and we all give the support the project needs. We’ve done more as a band in 3 months than I have alone for years. I’m so grateful for them.
OTH!: Speaking of COA as a full band- you’ve got some mighty talented bandmates! How did you find them and how did COA actually come to be a full band?
Michael: I’m so glad to have the people I have for sure. I was in an older band before this called Citadel, and during my time with that band I had made a lot of really cool friends. When that band dissembled out, City of Auburn became my main interest and live shows were something I wanted to work on as fast as possible. Some of the friends I had showed genuine interest in it. Before I knew it I had a line up in front of me. I met James (Drums) at a CD release party for Citadel. I met Luke (Bass) at a church group that I go to on Tuesday nights, but I really got to know him from him coming out to so many Citadel shows. I met Jake (Guitar) at a Steak and Shake after a Levi the Poet show. And I met Jordan (Guitar) at a Citadel show. They all supported what I did in the past and I ended up asking these guys to be a part of it. We’ve just been jamming ever since.
OTH!: In the past year, Texas has thrown the music industry some absolutely brilliant bands and artists (yourselves included). What’s it like being up against such tough competition and how do you handle it when the “going gets tough?” What keeps you going?
Michael: Considering how new this band is and how new we are to the scene, it’s extremely overwhelming to develop a large fanbase. You sometimes really don’t know where to start. To play a show, you obviously have to bring out your fans. But to build a fanbase you obviously have to do shows. It sometimes is hard to figure out what shows to do because you’re trying to find that balance of what shows are going to benefit you. What keeps me going, is that I look at the music, I look at the heart of this band, and it’s something I really believe in. It’s one thing to be in a band and it’s all in good fun, but it’s something else to completely believe in what you’re doing. I love people, and I want to play music that can touch people’s lives no matter where they are. I want to play music that is real. Pouring out your heart into something so that you can touch someone else’s is a beautiful thing. Even if it’s only one person, then it’s a job well done. If I can impact people by making music, then that’s worth every effort. That’s what keeps me going.
OTH!: 2014 aw the release of your EP Soul-Searcher, an incredibly emotional and heartfelt album filled with blood, sweat, and desperation instrumentally and lyrically. You’re now gearing up for your 2016 debut full-length, to be released this fall. If I remember correctly, you just jumped into the studio for it this past February. Can you tell me a bit about the writing process for this album and how you and COA as a band are moving forward in your discography?
Michael: Yeah! We started recording the album last month. Drums are done and I’m about to go in and record guitars. When I sat down to write this album, I knew that it had to be bigger than anything I’ve done previous. I had to write an album that was a step forward. I was listening to so much Balance and Composure and Being as an Ocean, and I think that really shaped the big sound I wanted to occupy. I remember that the writing process was actually the most enjoyable one I’ve experienced thus far. Obviously, it got unbelievably frustrating when I was writing the final songs because I wanted to end the album right, but discovering these songs was seriously the greatest joy. The thing that is weird with this album is that this album was basically completely written before we formed as a band, so the guys really didn’t have the opportunity to write anything for the album. Don’t get me wrong, they’re on the album, and they definitely will be present in the songs, but this album was just treated really different because this album was pretty much already prepared to go before we even played our first show. As far as the future of our discography, I think this album is really going to be a staple in our sound, and now there will be 5 people writing instead of one and the sound is just going to be a natural progression of the band. It’s going to be different for me because I’m so used to writing alone, but I’m ready to try new things and write another great album. It’s going to be a journey.
OTH!: Furthering that last question: can fans and new listeners expect that same emotionally desperate quality that you so artfully spun in Soul-Searcher?
Michael: I think the emotion expressed on Soul Searcher is just the smallest fraction of what’s to come on this new album. I cannot be more excited.
OTH!: As I recall, you kicked off this year with a show that spontaneously turned into a regional weekend tour. Was that your first ever tour and how was it? Was it as exciting as I imagine it to be?
Michael: It was my first tour ever. I don’t think I can think of a better experience that I’ve had in any band. I had so much fun and that whole weekend I just felt so blessed to be where I was. I really have no words. It was the greatest experience. I cannot wait to hit the road again, even if it’s just another weekend, it’s such a blessing.
OTH!: Furthermore, can we expect more tour stints- long or short- from City Of Auburn in the future?
Michael: Ohhhhhh yes. I’m already planning out dates and planning to go out of our state. We want to promote our new album as much as possible. I want really create a buzz.
OTH!: While we’re still on the topic of future plans, what’s next for City Of Auburn once your new album drops? I know you just recently won a preliminary Battle Of The Bands in Dallas (and congratulations!) Can we expect anything further from that? Or perhaps an album-release tour or any upcoming music videos?
Michael: Obviously, I think the dream would be to have a record label that believes in us standing by our side supporting us. I’d love to tour as support to other bands and just build our fanbase further. I’d love to make this a career and I’d love to make this go as far as we can. Whatever doors open for us and whatever happens, I think the goal is really just to keep doing what we want while we can, and writing another album is something to look forward to for sure. And yes, music videos are so much fun. I definitely want some more coming.
OTH!: Alrighty, Michael, I always like to end my interviews with something sort of silly. Let’s say the End is nigh and it’s a free-for-all as far as rioting and crime goes. Armed with only a utility knife, a Remington pistol, lime salt, and a chicken fried steak in your back pocket, you set forth to conquer and cause mayhem- and you can have only one person by your side in your last hurrah of chaos. My question is this: who do you call to stand by your side a wreck shit with as humanity loses its cool?
Michael: Oh man this is such an amazing question. Okay so first, I’d eat the steak. I mean c’mon, it’s the end of the world and I’m going to have some freaking chicken fried steak. I’d fill the utility knife with the lime salt, so if I had to defend myself with it, the knife is laced with something that will make the wound hurt more and therefore slowing down my enemy, and then I’d have the pistol with me for extreme circumstances. Honesty, I’d take my older brother with me. If I’m going out, I’d go out with him. But in reality, if the end is nigh I’m probably just going to watch Netflix until the riots take out my internet, and then at that point the world has a reason to fear me because NO ONE takes out my internet and gets away with it.
Thanks for taking the time to speak with me, Michael! Before I let you go, is there anything else you’d like to add?
Michael: Thank you so much for such wonderful questions. Thank you for your time and we hope we can talk again after the album! For everyone else, check us out on Facebook!
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