Mike Wojciechowski goes by the moniker Thick Red Wine, which is apt, seeing as his noisy, sing along style of punk is at once honest, intoxicating, and raw. The San Francisco-based songwriter admittedly finds strength in burritos and revisiting the awkwardness of school dances and growing up, and it’s this uncensored and nostalgic approach to music and lyrics that immediately struck our fancy. But don’t let those seemingly “low-brow” subjects fool you; Wojciechowski has a strong head on his shoulders — he just likes to keep it real.
Looking to dig a little deeper, we hit up Thick Red Wine to get the scoop on what helps him put it all out there. From hugs to feminism and the Boss, check out the what occupies Thick Red Wine’s headspace. And be sure to pick up his new EP, Homesick, out on cassette and digital from Breakup Records.
1. Old R&B
I listen to a lot of old R&B songs from the mid-to-late ’90s/early 2000s. There has been a wave of “New R&B” artists who play spacey and lonely little indie R&B songs. I like these artists. But I don’t like them more than Jodeci. Mainstream R&B was a much larger fabric of the overall music culture during the ’90s/early 2000’s. People forget how everyone in America could sing the vocals to K-Ci and JoJo’s “All My Life.” I will never forget.
2. Joan Didion
Joan Didion is my favorite writer. I’ve devoured all of her books during a lot of late nights and trips. It always seems ridiculous hauling around the gigantic hardcover collection of all her nonfiction writing, but she captures the subtext of humanity in a way that I have always admired. Her writing inspires my songs, my thoughts and my life.
3. The Best Show on WFMU
This show has been a soundtrack to my life for the last six years. There’s something really amazing about doing a three hour comedy/music/call-in radio show every week for 13 years. Tom Scharpling is the host of the show and Jon Wurster (drummer for Superchunk/Mountain Goats/Bob Mould) calls in as a different character each week. It’s brilliant and hilarious long form comedy. Last spring, I drove by myself from Philadelphia to San Francisco and listened to at least 15 hours of The Best Show on WFMU.
Hugs are great. I always err on the side of giving a hug to someone versus not giving a hug. I am also a bad businessman and often judge my live shows in terms of how many hugs I give out — not how many things I’ve sold.
5. Bruce Springsteen
I grew up in New Jersey. When I lived in Chicago, I flew home to see Bruce Springsteen play his last show at the Meadowlands. It lasted for three plus hours and I was down on the field crying tears of joy with my friends during “Jersey Girl.” It’s always funny meeting people into indie or punk music who are glibly dismissive of Springsteen. I’m not very good at keeping my mouth shut about his awesomeness.
It’s not a dirty word. Strong women make the world go round. Not enough are provided the opportunity. It’s 2014. Any reasonable person should be comfortable supporting social, political & economic equality for all genders/sexes.
7. House Shows
House shows have been very important to me throughout the years. It’s an opportunity to really reach people that isn’t always available at a bar or a club. I’ve played lots of them and you pretty much always meet interesting and supportive people. The DIY house show circuit stretching across the country is awe-inducing to me. There are so many articles about the cities I’ve lived in not being “cool” anymore, venues closing, etc. But at least where I grew up (Philly area), the response to this has been “Yeah, you know what, it’s not the end of the world that some bar or venue closed. We’re going to put on shows and have bands play at our house.” It’s wonderful.
I don’t have a strong urge to keep producing physical copies of my songs. Instead of just making CDs or tapes in 2015, I’m moving to a monthly subscription model. You’ll get a songbook in the mail. Then each month you’ll get access to the digital copy of a song and two pages to add to the songbook with a note about the song, a drawing and the lyrics. Receiving mail is a really wonderful thing when it’s good mail — mail from people you like instead of companies sending bills. I want to be a part of people’s lives every month and snail mail is still an amazing way to do that.
Homesick is out now from Breakup Records.