Chances are that if you’re in the Pop Punk scene then you have heard the name Mike Ziemer, if you haven’t then you’re missing out.
Mike is a successful concert promoter, artist manager for Evolve Management, and has a recording label called Third String Records. He is most known for promoting shows in the Texas area and running the festival South by So What?!
Aside from all the incredible hard work he puts into the music business, he is most known for being a really rad dude in general. Connecting with fans throughout social media, offering his personal phone number for kids that just need someone to talk to, and giving so many young people with music dreams ample opportunities, resources and support he has easily landed a place in many people’s hearts.
Although Mike is currently working insane hours prepping for the upcoming South By So What?! festival (March 19-20th) and going through over 60 applications for an internship with him (to the kids that didn’t get picked-he guest listed them for the festival) he took time out of his day to answer some questions for me!
LL: Tell me a little back story on you.
MZ: I started promoting shows in high school, had no idea it was going to be a career, and I still feel lucky as shit to do what I do. That’s the short version.
LL: What’s the most fun thing about being a promoter? What’s the most frustrating?
MZ: The most fun is working with your best friends, bands you’re friends with, and being around music all the time. The most frustrating is when people are negative and talk bad about people or bands.. or just unnecessary stuff that can sometimes be distracting.
LL: What song or moment first made you realize that music was going to be a substantial part of your life?
MZ: The album Dookie by Green Day. I couldn’t stop listening to it and I wanted to feel that energy live and be a “punk,” haha.
LL: I know you reached out to Kevin Lyman years ago with dreams of starting your own festival..now that you have..how does it feel?!
MZ: It feels great, especially to have people like Kevin being so supportive of myself and the scene we are both in. It’s kind of a full circle thing to talk to him and share ideas now.
LL: Who are some of your favorite bands to work with?
MZ: Neck Deep, State Champs, Dance Gavin Dance, Knuckle Puck, The Word Alive…too many to name. I have sooooo many friends that play my shows now it’s insane.
LL: Any crazy on the road stories?
MZ: On one of my first tours, we were in Roswell, New Mexico and the show got cancelled so we all went to a Whataburger parking lot and did an acoustic show. In the middle of it, a fight broke out between two drunk dudes (that weren’t with our group, just randomly there), and I filmed the entire thing. Then on the tour recap video I put it to a Miley Cyrus song. It was dope.
LL: What advice do you have to kids who want to follow in your footsteps and storm the scene?
MZ: Come work for me!!!!
LL: You seem so kind and humble..that’s hard sometimes to find in the music business..how do you stay grounded?
MZ: I always try to remember why I am here and that’s because I love music. I would love to have a big fancy house, a ton of cars, and all that cool stuff, but at the end of the day, I get to pay my bills and live because of music… the one thing I have always loved. I don’t understand why it’s hard to find in music. We all just need to remember why we are here and be grateful we aren’t working 9-5 jobs we hate with bosses that hate us.
LL: Would you have ever pictured yourself here 5 years ago? Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?
MZ: 5 years ago I was planning my first show at the baseball stadium (So What?!) and I was terrified. It was me going “all in” because if it didn’t work, we were done. We put all our money, heart, and soul into it and it worked. 5 years from now I want to be doing festivals all over the place, living in a nicer house in LA, and running my own charity. Let’s see what happens!!
LL: Who influences you? Musically or personally?
MZ: My parents are always a huge inspiration to me. They taught me at a young age to work for everything I wanted. Besides them, my team and the people I surround myself are all pretty inspiring people who influence me to do a lot of cool things.
LL: Any secret talents?
MZ: I snap my fingers really weird, I’ve never met anyone else that can do it the way I do, haha.
LL: What is your must have snack for long nights/days on the road?
MZ: Coffee. Coffee. Coffee. Coffee.
LL: What 3 songs do you require on a road trip?
MZ: Welcome To Paradise by Green Day
Work (Remix) by ASAP Ferg
Anything by Bring Me The Horizon
LL: What is the one thing you’d like the world to know about Mike Ziemer?
MZ: I have two dogs, one is a derpy little deaf dog and they are my heart. I would be the saddest of sad boys without them.
LL: Most embarrassing or a guilty pleasure song/artist that you like?
MZ: Justin Bieber
LL: Music is subjective, but how does it affect you personally?
MZ: Pretty much all music motivates and inspires me in different ways. Surprisingly, I listen mostly to hip-hop music. It’s always been my first love.
LL: There has been some negative backlash in the scene mostly to do with the unfair treatment of women working in the scene and young fans being taken advantage of..what do you think needs to be done to change this? Do you think this needs to be a more talked about subject?
MZ: Guys need to stop being shitty and learn to respect women. It’s such an easy concept and yet there are still a lot of shitty people. I was raised to respect women and I will never understand why respecting anyone is hard in the first place. I don’t think you could possibly discuss the topic enough, it’s so important and it needs to be discussed as much as possible. I posted my personal phone number to let girls know if they feel uncomfortable at our fest they can personally text me and tell me what the issue is.
LL: How do you balance promoting, running a management company, and a record label? Is there one that you enjoy doing more?
MZ: The festival is my #1 with the rest #2 because I LOVE working with bands and being able to help them grow. I would be nothing without my team though. I can balance everything with such a solid team.
LL: You have made it known that you are supportive of kids wanting to get into the scene and you offer mentoring sessions. Tell us a little bit about those? Where can we point people if they want some knowledge dropped on them?
MZ: I’m dropping that. I was charging like $50 a session but I feel like it’s lame to charge for that. If people want to talk to me they can email me, message me, whatever, and we can talk. I don’t wanna make money off anyone wanting to learn, schools do that enough. These are the people who could work for me one day.
LL: Can we be BFFS 4L? 😉
Make sure to check out the So What festival and pick up some tickets here.
Also, check out this awesome deck for only $35 that will be sold at the festival. I want..no..I NEED one!