ELKTON – A growing number of music fans are discovering Elkton native, Mike Eldreth Jr.’s good old boy music. It’s part country, part rap, part hip hop. Mike is proud of his town and loves the area and locals he has made friends with. The new year has brought new goals, new tours, more college and internet radio stations and new transportation to his performances. After last year’s, Country To The Bone CD, he is looking towards new heights. We sat down for lunch on Monday morning holding the interview with Mike at Simply Savory Catering eatery in Elkton after a photo shoot in nearby Farr Creek area.
“We’ve been doing a lot of touring and getting ready to start working on the new album, Mike said. “It’s just a whole new journey that I never thought I’d be in right now.”
To begin his 2016 tour, Mike is leaving his pickup behind as he travels the states and performs new gigs while keeping himself rooted in his hometown. “We already bought a Chevy eight person transit bus from an adult daycare that they had. We’re just an independent powerhouse now. We don’t have to use anyone’s stuff. We bring our own equipment. We just needed bigger room now because traveling in a little truck doesn’t work anymore. We were using a little pickup with a trailer. Some days it would be alright and then others would want to ride with us. Trying to squeeze four guys in a little extended cab doesn’t work everyday.”
What kind of music does he play? “What they’re starting to label us as is “hick-hop,” but it’s still considered country rap. They can’t find a genre to fit us in yet, so we’re trying to make our own way pretty much. Right now we were nominated for the hip hop category in the Maryland Music Awards. People started tagging me on Facebook asking me ‘like how do we vote to get you on here?’ I told them that pretty much whatever they thought I’d fit in, to just start voting for me. The nominees stopped last week and they put up the finals. We actually made the top five in Hip Hop, so that was pretty cool. We’re finally start getting recognized.”
His rap is his autobiography. “That’s what we try to aim for. A lot of people say to just make up words, but you feel it more if you write what you’ve been through. I try to tell a story on how my life’s going and hopefully someone feels the same. I hope it helps them get through the day. If I do the song about my grandfather (What Would He Say?), you’ll see people start crying in the crowd and it’s just a new feeling to me. Makes me want to cry.”
“We just released a new music video, “Everybody In The Mud.” They wanted me to shoot it out in Nashville, but I had to keep stressing I wanted to shoot it in my hometown. It makes me feel not at home when I’m down there. Down there, I don’t know anybody, but here I have family and friends. Everybody can see what we’re doing, instead of just telling them ‘oh we’re in Nashville doing this.’ If I bring it home, then these people believe and feel more, then I can make it into what I’m trying to do. It was a really fun time doing that video.”
About the record company. Dammitboy Entertainment is based out of Nashville. They’re up and coming in this genre. The producer ” Jon Conner” has worked with every artist that is out there right now. It’s good to know that he’s worked with Colt Ford and Thomas Rhett. It’s like hey, I’m working with that guy now.
On stayed rooted in Elkton while being a welder by day. “All my life I’ve been here, can’t get rid of me (laughs). It’s always good to come back home. We went so many different places last year. We went all the way down to Georgia doing shows. It’s nothing like coming home and seeing my family instead of being somewhere that I don’t know anyone. It’s good to be out and meet new people, but it’s always good to come home too.”
“We’ve talked about moving before to get closer to Nashville because that’s usually where that music is, but even when you talk to them people, they say, ‘man you don’t what to move here, you’ll want to get out of here too.’ It’s the same thing everywhere. Everybody talks about the issues around here, but every place has that. You can’t get away from it. Might as well find somewhere you’ve always been and stay with it. I’m hoping to make it a positive thing. People believe that nothing good can come out of this town anymore. You have to keep hoping and praying that something can instead of thinking negative.”
Slight pause in the interview as Erica serves us two tasty Crispy Chicken Chesapeake sandwiches with crabmeat.
On bringing his dad on the road. “He’s my new road man. Sometimes when you’re doing a show, they give you 10 minutes to tear down. If it’s me and one other dude, that’s not going to be quick enough. My dad is on it like you would not believe. We’ve had professional bands say, ‘we need to hire this guy.’ (laughs). We want to help him sometimes and he’s like, ‘nah, you go down there and start selling merch,’ (merchandise, t-shirts, CD’s, etc). ‘I’ll make sure everything is off the stage.’ I’m like, you need help packing the truck and he says, ‘it’s already in there.’ It’s easier to do it (gear) all in one trip, than to set it on the ground and have to load it back up later.”
“We’re starting our new merch game now. We have shirts, we have hoodies, hats, cozies, we’re looking into getting stickers, CD’s are always a must. Slowly but surely, we’re just trying to get enough money to keep buying new merch and keep our name out there and flash it around. Every time we get an order in, it’s gone within two or three days and we’re ordering more. It’s always good to keep people interested in wanting our stuff. It makes us feel like we’re making something of ourselves. It’s always good seeing where we are mailing them to that’s far away. We’ve mailed stuff to Germany. I’m not even thinking that somebody in Germany would be listening to me. I’m like man, maybe we are doing something if Germany is getting word of us. They’re like, ‘we just found you because we like that kind of music.’ Hopefully one day it will be a genre to where we’ll be labeled something instead of going, ‘ah, they’re country rap or they’re rap or they’re country. If we’re a certain genre, they’ll be able to find us. That’s what they’re trying to work on now.”
On playing local. “We’re looking into talking to Gracie’s. I want to stop in there because they do an open mic night every Friday. My cousin and his girlfriend go in there a lot. It would be fun to go and listen to music. We’re going to look into going back to Triton (Marina off of Old Field Point Road). We did a show at Triton last year. We’ve been talking about Uncle Bob’s,” (Bob Jackson’s, Pleasant Hill).
Where can you find Mike, online? “My web site is. www.therealforsaken.com . You can find anything on there. My tour dates, my merch, all my videos. We’re on the right path. It’s been a fun ride this past year.”