Stereo 550 ft. Madigan’s Attic
Q&A with the Acoustic Trio Madigan’s Attic
Stereo 550 has been a musical platform at GTB for 10 years, bringing art and soul to our agency and drawing people together through music. Over the past decade we’ve hosted nearly 100 shows, from emerging artists to seasoned performers such as Portugal. The Man, American Authors, Neon Trees and Third Eye Blind.
Our Dearborn office invited Madigan’s Attic to the agency for a special St. Patrick’s Day Stereo 550. Madigan’s Attic is an acoustic trio from metro Detroit comprised of Doug, Bruce, and Bob (one of our very own!). They play a mix of both traditional Irish and contemporary music at various pubs and festivals in the area and are known for their tight harmonies, eclectic sets, and good sense of humor.
We caught up with the band after their performance to chat about how they got their start in music and learn more about their musical inspirations and influences.
Q. What got you into performing?
Doug: I’ve always liked carrying a tune and singing along when I saw other people do it, so I thought I’d learn enough songs to do a little bit of performing myself. Bruce, you can speak to that?
Bruce: Yeah, my sister and I used to sing with my mom when I was a kid. That’s where I learned to harmonize which turned into performing when I was in grade school and I just never stopped.
Bob: I’ve never been too far away from music and performing was just the next step in the evolution.
Q. How did you three come together?
Doug: Well, seven years ago I had a duo performance scheduled for St. Patrick’s weekend and my counterpart dropped out at the last minute. So, I asked Bob if he’d be interested in playing because we used to sing in choir together. And Bob knew Bruce so he looped him in on it too. I asked them if they could cram and learn enough Irish tunes to keep the gig — needless to say, we did it. After that performance, we decided to learn other stylings of music to round out the set and play year-round. And here we are.
Bruce: The funny thing about that story is Bob called me up and said, “So Bruce, do you know Irish music?” and I said, “Like to listen to? To play? No, not really…Let’s do it.” So, we did.
Q. How do you decide what songs to cover?
Doug: Well, we send links to each other and think about songs that fit the acoustic trio — something we can make our own, if you will, that has enough instrumentation to cover all our bases. We thumbs down probably more than 50% of songs because somebody doesn’t want to do it. In that case, we just move on and pick a different song.
Bruce: We’re pretty ruthless about it. If something doesn’t work, okay that’s it, let’s cut it. It’s either a good song for us or not.
Bob: Yeah, we know pretty quickly if it’s going to work for us or not.
Q. What’s your favorite song that you perform together?
Doug: We have a few different favorites, but it really depends on how well we think the song will go over with folks. Drift Away is great because people get to swaying and everyone seems to like it and sing along. But there are so many others, especially silly songs like If I Had a Million Dollars that folks automatically warm up to. The songs that we personally like to play are a little more “college radio” obscure, such as the Decemberists or other Indie rock bands. We really feel that kind of music fits right in our sweet spot, but they’re not as recognizable for the majority of folks.
Q. Who or what is your greatest influence?
Bruce: The Beatles.
Doug: Well, early on my greatest influence was Neil Young because the songs were great and the chord structures and harmonica parts were very approachable. To this day, I also have a sweet spot for America’s Greatest Hits, I cannot lie. I love 70’s pop music as well.
Bob: I don’t think I can nail down any one particular artist as my greatest influence — I like to listen to a whole bunch of different music. I do tend to gravitate toward really good harmonies and instrumentation, focusing on musical components like that rather than a particular artist or genre.