When I sat down to update this bio, I thought man this thing is long-winded, and now I'm making it even longer. Why not just delete most of it? Nobody's gonna read it anyway, what with the shorter attention spans of the ever devolving human race. But then I decided, screw it, leave it mostly as is, update a few things, create a short version and a long version, and people can skip some or all of it as their life priorities dictate. So here goes...
Michael Starks has been kicking around the Tampa Bay area since the early 1980s, when he came to the area to attend graduate school. Starks’ intent was to find an occupation that would enable him to save the world, so he became a hydrogeologist and embarked upon an environmental consulting gig for several decades. Recognizing early on that saving the world was a long shot at best, he constantly fell back on his passion for music and songwriting. He played with a band called The Utensils in the late 80s/early 90s, then set out on a solo career that eventually resulted in four “solo” albums. A few years ago he formed a new band – Quaint Delusions - based in the urban wilderness of Dade City, Florida. In March 2021 the QDs released their debut album called "Basking In Irrelevance", and in November 2022 they released their second album of red-hot rockers and other top 10 hits called "This Far Out". To check out the QD releases, go to the Discography page or to www.quaintdelusions.com.
Once upon a time...
A long-ago graduate of the rust belt, Michael Starks’ musical world stems from a wide variety of influences dating back to the mid 1970s when he honed his skills as an air guitar player, flawlessly accompanying the likes of Queen, Rush, Aerosmith, Kiss, and the New York Dolls. Starks took up playing real guitar as a college freshman and began writing songs shortly thereafter. Starks counts Frank Black, Radiohead, Built to Spill, Sparklehorse, Helvetia, Jason Falkner, Guided By Voices, and the Beatles (and a couple hundred others) among his recent musical influences.
Starks relocated to Tampa in 1983 to attend graduate school at the University of South Florida, with the intent to eventually save the world as a hydrogeologist. There he met several geology grad students (Gregg Jones, Terry Griffin, and Jon Klay) and a professor (Bruce Nocita) that eventually began playing music together. They had no drummer, but fate stepped up in the form of a random supermarket encounter that then led to a change of evening plans and a rendezvous with “a drummer!” (“What the hell you wanna jam here for when we can go play with a real drummer!”) At that rendezvous, the fellas met Tom Overbey, and the rest is history, largely unwritten until now, and certainly warped and semi-accurate at best as presented here. As any scholar of rock history knows, Overbey soon thereafter became the Utensils’ drummer, tilting the now sextet toward jazzy improv jamminess. Or tried to. Anyway, the band, playing mostly covers initially, hit the Tampa Bay area club scene in 1988 and later gravitated to more originals. Starks was one of the band’s songwriters/guitarists/vocalists.
As fate would have it, original bassist Jon Klay left the band for the west coast to ride around on a big research boat, making way for Paul Reside to enter the picture. Much to the band’s utter astonishment, Paul showed up at the first “audition” knowing just about the entire catalog of songs. Since by virtue of that fact alone he knew the songs better than anyone else in the band, Paul passed the audition. Paul filled in ably for a year or two, before he too left for the west coast. But, fate was smiling and soon thereafter delivered the young and snotty Kevin Knoll to provide his impressive bottom-feeding skills to the band.
About the time the band somehow decided on a name, they set out on an endless quest to change it. But they never were able to agree on anything even remotely socially acceptable, even though every alternative considered was superior to the default moniker. (For those keeping score at home, legend has it kitchen utensils provided rhythm section assistance sometime early in the band’s formative days, hence the name.)
The band recorded Real Fine World in 1992. Rhythm tracks for the 13 songs were recorded live over two nights, with overdubs completed later. Songs on the CD reflected the diverse writing styles of the band members, principally Gregg Jones and Starks. The CD was locally well-received when it was released in 1993. The band continued playing out locally, eventually disbanding in 1995 when bassist Kevin went to Nashville to be a real musician.
Around 1996, Starks began working on a solo CD project that eventually became Mumbo Chit Chat, released in 1998. Many of the songs had been kicking around in Starks’ head for a few years, with several dating back to the days of the Utensils (“American Dream” was performed live by the band on numerous occasions). Starks produced the CD, and employed the assistance of Bruce Nocita and Tom Overbey (guitar and drums, respectively), both ex-Utensils, who played on most of the tracks. Appearances by Tampa popster Robert Wegmann (bass/vocals), Sean Malone (bass), and Terry Griffin (keyboards) added to the festivities. The CD was released on Robert Wegmann’s Fumiko label.
It wasn’t long after the release of Mumbo that songs for what would become Shadowcasting began to take shape. Never one to work at lightning speed, Starks recorded tracks for Shadowcasting over a several-year period. The recording process this time involved a lot of home recording. Everything except drums was recorded either at Starks’ home studio (Pseudostudios) or at Robert Wegmann’s Fumiko Studio. Drums for most of the tracks were recorded at Morrisound Recording in Tampa, which also is where the record was mixed and mastered. Starks produced Shadowcasting and employed the assistance of several long-time musical friends and cohorts to put it all together. The CD was released in 2004 on Tampa's Fumiko Records.
Mr. Starks’ next offering to the rock gods - There Goes Our Ghost - came along a few years later. True to form, Starks took the slow approach, beginning tracking in July 2007 for what was then a fully undefined “project”. The recording process again involved a lot of home recording. Most of the drums were recorded (and played) by Mark Prator at Redroom Recorders. Some stuff was recorded at Fumiko Studios. Just about everything else was recorded in Starks’ barn, and the thing was mixed and mastered at Morrisound.
There Goes Our Ghost mines more of that endless rock vein of loud guitars and drums, with a few creepier spots creeping in. Songs about mortality (or lack thereof), perpetuity (more or less), societal ineptitude (despite disingenuous promises to not go there again), inevitability (or lack thereof), and god knows what else, all tied together with some string theory, make for what we hope is the magical salve for the masses that cures all that ails everyone, everywhere, all the time, forever...but why limit it to just that?
Fast forward some more…
...to 2017, when Starks released Rolling Off The Edge. They say its never a good idea to tell anyone which kid is your favorite, but with enough lubrication Starks would likely admit that he considers Rolling to be his best solo effort to date. Lyrically it mines some of similar themes as past efforts, albeit with some snarky but enthusiastic sarcasm and ho-hummed-ness, and a heavy dose of obvious. The tired old "If I were you I'd do this" condescension that some of us high-minded arrogants subscribe to seemed a good topic for a song. And of course everyone wants to be an up-and-comer-out-and-go-and getter and a riot act in big shiny letters, so that's something to talk about too. And man those Teton elk can sing!
If you've read this far, thank you so much for your interest, and if you just skipped to the end, that's OK too, since you could be doing just about anything else besides reading this. But it gets better, cuz now Mike is in a cool band called Quaint Delusions, which also includes Roger Hughes, Steve Dicks, Kevin DeHart, and "sweet" David Lane. In March 2021 the QDs released their debut album called "Basking In Irrelevance", and in November 2022 they released their second album of red-hot rockers and other top 10 hits called "This Far Out". To check out the QD releases, go to the Discography page or to www.quaintdelusions.com.
© 2022 Michael Starks