“Sometimes nothing changes except your attitude and the perspective you have on what has happened to you,” singer/songwriter/drummer Mike Rizzi recently said about his forthcoming album, Appreciate What Remains. “These songs were screaming to get out of me — so I felt the need to take them to another level. In the end, I hope the lesson everyone experiences is getting to a place of gratitude.”
A tribute to his son, Rizzi’s debut solo album is being produced by John Driskell Hopkins (of Zac Brown Band). The music represents his favorite genres, ranging from Rock to Americana, and Folk to Country while incorporating a diverse range of styles. Timeless bands like U2 and The Beatles find there way into his songs. “My musical influences are broad, but the melodic, story-telling songwriters such as Tom Petty, David Gates (Bread), Ray Davies (The Kinks), Neil Finn (Crowded House), and Pete Townshend (The Who) always inspire and keep me writing.”
Rizzi has spent 30 years touring the as a drummer with The Sweet Tea Project, Five Eight and Sonia Leigh among others … and he has shared the staged as a member of these bands with groups including REM, Zac Brown Band, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, Styx, Foreigner, The Jayhawks, Willie Nelson, Loretta Lynn, Chicago, Blackberry Smoke, Need to Breathe, Lynyrd Skynrd, Drivin-N-Cryin, Starship, Band of Horses, Cheap Trick, The Killers, Collective Soul, Seven Mary Three.
Most recently, Rizzi has a featured song, entitled “Nothing Fades,” on The Sweet Tea Project’s new album, Alder Lane Farm — the band is an Atlanta-based Americana rock and roots band, featuring Ed Roland from Collective Soul. He also shares time playing and writing with Hopkins, his long-time friend and multi-instrumentalist of the world-famous Zac Brown Band. Rizzi has started recording on Hopkins’ new record, to be released in 2018, and they are also creating music for a soon-to-be-released movie in which Hopkins is featured, “Adolescence”. Hopkins plays a biker who sings in a band, and Rizzi plays the drummer.
A native of a small upstate New York town, Endwell, Rizzi was practically born with drumsticks in his hands. At age 3, he began drum lessons and was reading music before fully knowing the alphabet. During this time, he developed an affinity towards singing and creating songs while drumming, accelerated by his discovery of The Beatles. Embracing Ringo’s approach to drumming, he was drawn to their strong melodic songwriting. By ninth grade, Rizzi began singing lead from behind the drum kit with his band, Uncle Jam. Throughout high school, he was writing and recording albums while selling cassettes out of his locker daily. After experiencing the power of performing original music and seeing the affect it had on others, he was determined to make this his life’s work.
Over the years, Rizzi began co-writing with band mates on the road. While touring with Sonia Leigh, the two penned their first co-written song, “Great Divide,” inspired by the fact that they were both forced away from loved ones. “I strummed an E chord and sang the line ‘The only thing between us is this great divide,’ and the rest just emotionally and quickly poured out of us,” Rizzi said. The song was performed 3 days later while opening for Eric Church in South Carolina in front of 18,000+ people. “Seeing ‘Great Divide’ come to life was truly a special moment in my career.”
Another of Rizzi’s dreams came to fruition in 1998 when he became the drummer for the Athens, Georgia power rock group, Five Eight. “I had been a big fan for nearly a decade, and then fortunately got to rock with them for 9 years,” Rizzi shared. Five Eight was featured on Atlanta’s legendary 99x radio station in 2003, with two singles in heavy rotation: “Square Peg” and “I’m Still Around.” In 2004 Five Eight was hand-picked by REM to open their “Around The Sun” world-tour. “A musical highlight in my career. I was such a huge REM fan, so to be asked was beyond a dream coming true,” he said Five Eight relocated to Los Angeles in 2007, which is when Rizzi left the band to work with friend Thomas Tull (CEO of Legendary Pictures) to develop music for video games and movies under a band they co-founded, Ghosthounds. They recorded a full-length record produced by Nile Rodgers (Chic) and engineered by Bob Clearmountain. Two of these tracks, “Ashes to Fire” and “Wind Me Up,” were featured on the Rock Band II video game.
“It’s cathartic to revisit my feelings of the past and present — from the darkest struggles to the most euphoric moments; embracing them equally and finding motivation to move forward in a positive direction while honor the experiences,” said Rizzi about his new album. The songs on Appreciate What Remains explore the challenges of remaining grateful and positive while experiencing life’s intense highs and lows. “When writing this record, I never had a conscious idea to make a particular style of song, the emotions and words drove me,” he explained. “I always wanted the music to compliment the feelings my lyrics were trying to convey — the angst of betrayal, the high of happiness, and sometimes the depth of sadness — while aiming to tame the fear and attempting to live in the middle while riding the wave of the life events we’re dealt with.”
Appreciate What Remains is available now worldwide!
RIZZI WEBSITE: https://www.rizzimusic.com/
CMT (VIDEO for GREAT DIVIDE):