White Lion Interview

White Lion

Michelle LaRose talks with Mike Tramp for Metal Masters
Photographs by Michelle LaRose

Hi! Welcome to Metal Masters. I hope you’re enjoying the show tonight. I’m Michelle and tonight we have a very, very special guest, somebody that I’ve liked for many years, we’re going to be talking to Mike Tramp from White Lion.

White LionMM: Ok Mike, we’re going to get the low-down on your career starting back in the 70’s you were in a popular band called Mabel in your home land of Denmark?

Mike: Yes. I’m one of those that started very early on. I got into music already at the age of like thirteen and a half. Was involved in a youth club that was very musically active, theater and stuff like that. Then one thing led to another. When I was fifteen and a half, I somehow ended up joining a professional rock band with three members that were ten years older than me and already finished their High School, College, University etc. I went straight from not finishing my High School straight into that band. I played with that band up until 1982 which was basically when we ended up in New York City. It finalized our career right there, then I took over and started White Lion from that time. Prior to that time from 1976 to ’82 I was living in Europe, of course, playing around in all the different country’s. Recording albums. I was just a pup; I just ended up learning everything on album and on stage instead of in the rehearsal room, where maybe if I look back at it all I would have preferred to have it that way.

MM: You came to New York and formed White Lion, which was really huge in the 80’s in the U.S. and abroad too. What are some of your fondest memories of being in White Lion?

Mike: This is the kind of question that you get asked a lot of times because people always think you get to play Madison Square Garden or something like that or you get your Platinum album and that’s the highlight. But when you really look at it, to me it was really the formation of the band and the writing of the songs. Vito Bratta, the guitar player and myself who formed the band who wrote every song in the band’s history… To me when I look back at that, “That” is my greatest accomplishment, creating the music that has lived on. Because, yes, I’ve toured with the greatest bands in the world. I’ve played for millions of people, I’ve sold millions of records but all that stuff is gone now and basically the only thing that still is there are the songs.

MM: You’re here in the U.S. for just a very short time. You’re here as “Tramp’s White Lion” and you’re only touring for a month? Why so short?

Mike: That’s just basically what the tour is. These days, you’re not nineteen anymore, you have more things in your life than just going out there and giving it all up for rock-n-roll. There’s a fine balance in the whole picture in why you’re doing it. With that, I have another life too. I have a son. I live in Australia. Tramp’s White Lion is basically just a band right now that’s going out and playing White Lion songs in the clubs. And besides that, I don’t want to be negative or pessimistic but there’s really nothing else to it. There’s no future career in it. We’re not going to sell any albums etc., etc. So it’s just something I kinda’ got talked into. Since ’95 I’ve had my own solo career and I’ve already recorded five solo albums and that is what I do. When I get to do Tramp’s White Lion and I go out there and I play some of the old songs for the fans and stuff like that, It’s really just to give something back to those who still hang onto it. But really, at the end of the day, there’s very little in it for me.

White LionMM: As you mentioned, you’re living in Australia. Why Australia as opposed to your home of Denmark?

Mike: To make a long story short, I have a son with an Australian woman and she decided she wanted to go back to Australia and I wanted to be where my son is.

MM: I hear you’re currently working on an autobiography?

Mike: Yeah. This is something that has been in the works for quite a few years, between me and a very close friend that I met many years ago that did an interview with me. When I later read his interview, it was the first time I saw somebody writing and telling the story the way that I had told it. It was an interview that I’d done that was very deep so I really had an opportunity to really talk about that. It was also in my home country. This book has been written in Danish, which is my language, and later on we will translate it. It’s more than just a musical book it has a lot to do with the whole way of growing up and the struggles that I went through. It’s not so much about playing Madison Square Garden and selling Platinum records. It has a lot to do with the steps I took in life and the road that I’ve traveled.

MM: You’ve been working on your solo career. When your done with Tramp’s White Lion here, are we going to see you come back as Mike Tramp with your solo music?

Mike: I would love to sit here and say “yes.” It’s kind of like when fans email me, “Why are you not coming to Canada? Why are you not coming here?” Basically the reason I’m not coming to Canada is because I’m not going to take $2,000.00 out of my pocket and fly to Canada and not have a gig. It really comes down to, “Is there a place for me to play?” It’s already a struggle going out as Tramp’s White Lion. It’d be ten times more of a struggle to go out as Mike Tramp, but that is the music I play today, it’s what I do. That’s obviously my goal but then again everything has to fit in the right boxes and the budget has to make sense. One thing I know for sure is that another album will come and where that will lead to is yet to be found out.

MM: Well I sure hope we see you as Mike Tramp, the solo artist back here in the States soon. Now we’re going into some vintage White Lion with the video Wait right here on Metal Masters.

White Lion