Michael J. Petrantoni Goes In-Depth About His Musical Journey

Please introduce yourself. What do you do? Why? What do you want people to know about you?

I began my musical career as the lead singer, guitarist, and primary songwriter for Rochester, NY band Exploding Boy in 1987.

In our 13 years together, the band performed thousands of shows all over the Eastern US and shared stages with A Flock Of Seagulls, Joe Walsh, Billy Squier, Cheap Trick, and The Goo Goo Dolls among others. We were named one of the “Top 12 Best Unsigned Bands of 1999” by Billboard and Musician magazines shortly before disbanding.

I launched a solo career in 2000 and went on to write with Stan Lynch, legendary drummer for Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers, and have also worked with Ken Block of Sister Hazel and Chris Nix, guitarist for Jonathan Davis of Korn. I have released 6 self-produced full-length solo records, several EP’s, and numerous singles, and also have production and engineering credits on releases by a number of independent up-and-coming artists.

I started a podcast called “Turn It On” in 2015 which features long-form interviews with everyone from bassist Billy Sheehan, to members of Daughtry, Chicago, The Goo Goo Dolls, The Doobie Brothers, Longwave, The Smashing Pumpkins, Vertical Horizon, and a host of others. There are currently 58 free episodes available on iTunes, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, and Spotify.

I live in Nashville, TN and since moving here almost 9 years ago have been an in-demand sideman for artists such as Brandon Ray (Sony/ATV), James Otto, Jessie G, Chuck Wicks, and Canadian country artist Aaron Goodvin (Reviver/Warner Music Canada).

I’m currently playing guitar, keys and singing backup vocals on the road with Country artist Jameson Rodgers (Columbia/Riverhouse).

What qualities make you different and unique from everyone else in the industry?

I would assume this is a tough question to answer for any artistic type of person because of the crippling self-doubt and imposter syndrome that I think we all suffer from, so I’ll do my best.

I bring a very diverse skill set to the table in everything I do. I started out as an artist writing songs, making records, and touring when I was barely 17 years old and had tremendous success out of the gate at that age. When my band broke up I rolled things over into a DIY solo career because I couldn’t afford to pay anyone to help me, so I learned how to do a lot of things on my own.

I had a second “season” as a solo artist performing acoustic gigs all over the country until I burned out on it completely after about 13 years. I had reached an age where I realized that I probably wasn’t going to have a career as a signed artist, so I moved myself to Nashville determined to stay in music no matter what I had to do.

Since I understood the role of the artist so well, having been there myself it was quite easy for me to step into the role of sideman or “support” for artists here in Nashville. This has allowed me to work and be involved at the highest levels with many of the top artists in Country Music today.

I’ve learned along the way to diversify and not to ever paint myself into any kind of corner. The recording and production skills I learned out of necessity early on are now helping me to produce and record other up-and-coming artists and those skills in turn have also carried over into the podcasting world and have allowed me to have some success in that arena as well.

I love all aspects of what I get to do regardless of whether it’s my own original project or helping someone else to realize their creative vision. The touring side of things is what I dreamed of doing ever since I was a very young kid so being out on tour with a guy like Jameson Rodgers who has had two consecutive number one songs has been the realization of a lifelong dream.

I can’t wait for more in 2022.

Describe THAT moment when you realized you’re doing what you were born to do.

I was lucky enough when I was living in Gainesville, FL in the early 2000s to get to play two songs at the University Of Florida’s Gator Growl 2002 (the largest student-run pep rally) in front of roughly 60,000 people.

Stepping out on the stage that night at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium just felt completely right. I can’t explain it any other way except to say that I knew I belonged on a big stage like that. It was strangely comfortable and consequently, every other big stage I’ve been fortunate enough to perform on has felt the exact same way.

What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve had to go through and how did you grow through it?

I think the biggest challenge I’ve faced, as I alluded to in one of the previous sections, was facing up to the reality that my initial dream of being a signed major label artist, either as part of a band or solo probably wasn’t going to ever become reality as hard as I worked and tried.

It was a VERY bitter pill to swallow but opening my mind to other possibilities and not being as rigid in my thinking has not only allowed me to continue being involved in music but to flourish in places that I never dreamed possible.

And the best part is that I’m still writing and recording my own music on my own terms and whether I reach an audience of 2 or 2000 I go to sleep every night creatively fulfilled. And people have been paying me quite well to be a part of their touring bands so I get to live a version of my dream even if it isn’t exactly as I pictured it when I was 17.

There is no downside.

Who are the TOP 3 people you’d want to meet that could elevate your career or business? Why these specific individuals?

The answers here might be a bit left of center but here goes.

Chris Hardwick would be number one for me because I have tremendous admiration for what he’s accomplished, and being a podcaster myself I just think he’s a master interviewer. His positive outlook on things and his drive to keep pushing himself in different creative endeavors are incredibly inspiring.

I feel like we’d have a lot in common. He’s also roughly the same age as I am so I think a chance to sit down and have a chat with him would be amazing. I feel like he would understand the internal engine that drives me to keep moving forward.

Butch Walker would be next on my list because of his production prowess and success. I’ve actually met him several times when I was much younger and didn’t have my shit together.

I’ve always enjoyed working with artists on the production side of things so I feel like any advice Butch might have as far as that goes would be invaluable. I’m also a big fan of his music and I think we’d also have a bunch in common.

Jimmy Iovine would also be on my list simply because of the incredible music he’s both helped to make and to bring into the world. I feel like his advice on music production and songwriting would be life-changing.

Drop your social media links.

Vianka Petines
Vianka Petines
Vianka is a bright, savvy, and capable marketing publicist. She brings a breath of fresh air with a very sound approach to strategy and campaign development. We're excited to have her on the team :)

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