To any music fan, the magic and excitement of attending your first real rock concert feels like a Right of Passage. For drummer Mike Fasano, his first concert experience is one he'll never forget, because it directly helped to shape the course of his future. "When I was a kid," Mike remembers, "I went to see The Police on the Synchronicity tour and was totally blown away. The band kicked so much ass and I got turned on to the amazing drumming of Stewart Copeland. I'd recently started playing drums," he continues, "and I was at that age where it impacted me and made me realize, This is what I want to do with my life."
Growing up in Burbank (on the eastside), California, Mike got his first marching snare drum at age eight, his first kit at twelve and joined his first band in Junior High. Mike played with friends in local rock bands throughout High School. His early drumming style was influenced by some of his favorite 80's Hair Metal bands but he was also listening to and inspired by a variety of music from Prince and Madonna to The Smiths. After graduation, Mike signed to an initial three-month contract playing drums on board Princess Cruise Lines. There, he expanded his drumming palette by learning to play a variety of styles outside the rock domain. "That turned out to be the best thing I ever did," he admits. "I learned how to play, traveled around the world and made good money. I also learned how to be away from home and deal with people." Now, when asked where he went to school, Mike replies, "Princess Cruises University."
After four years on the cruise ship gig Mike's roommate, drummer Matt Sorum (who had replaced Steven Adler in Guns 'N' Roses) convinced him to stay on shore. "Matt gave me a lot of encouragement to stay in town and start auditioning so I could further my career, which just made sense," says Mike. "I decided it was time to take what I'd learned on the ships and apply it to a band situation." Working days at a music store selling drums, Mike played out in the evenings with several different bands and continued to build a solid groove playing rock, blues and even country western. Thanks to Matt Sorum, Mike got to play percussion on one song for Guns 'N' Roses' The Spaghetti Incident. There he met guitarist Gilby Clarke, who later invited him to play drums on his 1997 solo album The Hangover. Mike toured nationally with Clarke in support of The Hangover and was again called on to lend his drumming talents to its successor, Rubber. "Touring with Gilby and playing on his records was a very cool experience," says Mike. "He was the first artist to give me that kind of opportunity and I'll always appreciate him for that."
By now, Mike had forged important social connections within LA's music scene that were beginning to pay off. When Clarke heard that guitarist Ryan Roxie was looking for a drummer, Mike - who already knew Ryan socially - hooked up with Roxie and bassist Stefan Adika to form the Cheap Trick-influenced power-rock band, Dad's Porno Mag. Dad's Porno Mag released its self-titled debut in 1999 and created a buzz from New York to LA. "That band was crazy and I had a great time," says Mike. "The DPM record is still one of my favorite albums that I've played drums on." It was also through a mutual friend that Mike met Go-Go's drummer, Gina Schock. "Gina was looking for a drummer for her band K5, because she was singing. I called Gina and she was just captivating. Once we met, that was it. The next thing I knew I was rehearsing in her home studio; writing songs, recording demos and putting the band together." Though the K5 project was waylaid by a Go-Go's reunion, Mike considers his collaboration with Gina to be an invaluable experience. "It was great to have another drummer dig what you're doing," he says, "and she's a great drummer."
In January of 2000, Mike was asked to join the well-established rock band Warrant after playing drums for a year with singer Jani Lane in an all-star cover band, The Underdogs. Mike toured nationally with Warrant and recorded the albums Under the Influence and We Wish You a Hairy Christmas with the group before moving on in 2004. "Playing with Warrant gave me the opportunity to do a lot of really cool things," says Mike. "We played some huge venues, traveled all over and met so many great fans. I was also able to meet and tour with some of my rock heroes - guys I grew up listening to - which was unforgettable. That band was a laugh and we had a really good time. The best part though was that I'd always wanted to give back, first of all to the fans, because I was a fan. I also wanted to give back to the companies like Pork Pie Drums, DW, Vic Firth sticks, Zildjian Cymbals and Remo Drum Heads that had supported me over the years prior to having the exposure of playing with a national act like Warrant. I'm glad I was finally able to do that."
After leaving Warrant, Mike had the opportunity to really stretch as a player when he was asked to play drums on III: Ghost Tigers Rise, the latest album by LA's psychobilly/punk rock band Tiger Army. "I had known the guys in Tiger Army for years and they're good friends," says Mike. "Six months prior to recording their new album their drummer, Fred Hell survived being shot in the head, but he wasn't fully rehabilitated to the point where he could do long days in the studio. I got a call from their singer/guitarist Nick 13 asking if I could play drums on the record and I wanted to help them out. When I explained to Nick that I'd never played anything like their style of music, he expressed complete faith in my ability to pull it off."
Mike considers III: Ghost Tigers Rise to be among the most challenging and rewarding experiences he's had playing on a record. "The tempo and dynamic fluctuation through the songs were all based on feel, since there was no click," Mike explains. "There were also beats that weren't straight ahead, four/four rock beats and it was just really different. Every time we'd get a song, Nick would say, 'Man, I didn't know our songs had sounds like this!' With me hearing things fresh, I think I brought a little bit more rock to their psychobilly punk thing and made it more solid in certain areas, because what I play is solid, basic rock. This would have been a challenging record for even a true session guy, and I feel like recording with Tiger Army gave me a great opportunity to show my diversity as a drummer. "Mike also went out with Tiger Army in the summer of 2004 on the Vans Warped Tour, where he played twenty-eight shows in thirty-one days!
2004 saw Mike staying very busy with a couple of interesting studio projects including Gloryhole UK, his collaboration with Buckcherry guitarist, Keith Nelson and vocalist Huck Johns. "Keith and I were already friends," says Mike, "but when he worked as a guitar tech on the Tiger Army record he got a chance to really see me in action. Keith suggested we get together with our friend Huck Johns to jam and we started writing and recording tunes, not knowing what would come of it. Then I heard from Billy Morris of Warrant that the lovely folks at Metal Sludge (metalsludge.tv) were putting out a compilation CD, Hey, That's What I Call Sludge. Keith, Huck and I ended up doing this great tune for the record called "Misery," and we gave ourselves the name Gloryhole UK for the project. That was really fun and we still might do more together in the future." 2004 also saw Mike reunite with his former Dad's Porno Mag cohort, Ryan Roxie to record the Roxie 77 disc Peace, Love and Armageddon.
As a drummer, it's important to Mike that he make a contribution to his drumming peers, which he's done through development of an innovative snare drum head, Remo's Emperor X. Mike explains, "I came up with the idea of asking Remo to make a heavier, more durable head. After a lot of trial and error we finally got the formula right." Remo's Emperor X drumheads are the most durable Mylar heads in the world. Made with two free-floating plys of ten-millimeter Mylar film with a five-millimeter reverse black dot, the head gives consistent, focused warm tones, accounting for their popularity among many of today's hardest hitting Rock drummers, some of whom were referred to Remo directly by Mike. "For guys who were having trouble getting through half a show, they can get through about six shows with this head, and heavy hitters can change heads every four shows instead if going through two snares a show. It's a great head and I'm very proud of my part in its marketing and development."
Besides his many live music and studio endeavors, Mike enjoys participating in charity events such as Alice Cooper's Celebrity AM Golf Tournament and, most recently, the 2005 Price Oil Celebrity Golf Tournament, which raises funds benefiting Florida's Make A Wish Foundation. "I first played in the Price Oil Tournament in 2004," says Mike. "This year Price's CEO, Todd Armstrong asked if I could also put together a band to play on the final night of the tournament, and I said yes, absolutely." For the all-star group, Mike gathered friends from the LA music scene including Ryan Roxie (Alice Cooper), John Corabi (Motley Crue, RATT), Stefan Adika (Dee Dee Ramone), Billy Duffy (The Cult), Dizzy Reed (Guns 'N' Roses) and Eric Dover (Slash's Snakepit, Alice Cooper). "I named the band The Hillary Duffers," Mike laughs. After the golf tournament wrapped, The Hillary Duffers gave an exciting performance at John Wehner's Village Door nightclub. "The manufacturers that I endorse, like Remo, DW and Vic Firth, all graciously donated items for an auction as well, so Price Oil raised a lot of money for a great cause that night and everyone had a good time. Playing drums is a great way to make a living and I love it," Mike continues. "But, for me, it's not about the money; it's about having a good time, working hard and reaching out, because music saved my life. Ultimately, I think we all want to be able to say that we've contributed to society and my contribution is making somebody have a great day through playing music."